Instead, the X-Trail will now be produced at its Kyushu plant in Japan. Nissan has confirmed that future models planned for the Sunderland plant, the next-generation Juke and Qashqai, are unaffected.

Nissan Europe chairman, Gianluca de Ficchy, said: "Nissan is investing heavily in new technologies and powertrains for the next generation of vehicles in our Sunderland plant. To support this we are taking advantage of our global assets, and with X-Trail already manufactured in Japan, we can reduce our upfront investment costs.

"We appreciate this will be disappointing for our UK team and partners. Our workforce in Sunderland has our full confidence, and will continue to benefit from the investment planned for Juke and Qashqai.

"While we have taken this decision for business reasons, the continued uncertainty around the UK's future relationship with the EU is not helping companies like ours to plan for the future."

Business Secretary responds

The Rt Hon Greg Clark MP said: “Nissan’s announcement is a blow to the sector and the region, as this was to be a further significant expansion of the site and the workforce. The company has confirmed that no jobs will be lost. They have reiterated today their commitment to the UK by continuing to manufacture in Sunderland the current Qashqai, Leaf and Juke models and the new Qashqai model from 2020.

“The UK automotive industry is a vital sector for the British economy which draws on our combination of rich automotive heritage and cutting-edge innovation. Its role in providing high skilled well-paid jobs, innovative R&D and investment is why we are determined to build on these strengths to make the UK a leader in the next generation of autonomous and electric vehicles through the Automotive Sector Deal, as part of our modern Industrial Strategy.”

Nissan: Brexit is a sideshow

Dr Jonathan Owens, lecturer in operations management at the University of Salford Business School, and expert in supply chains, says there is more to the decision than Brexit: “Just four months after the 2016 referendum, Nissan said it would build its next-generation Qashqai sports utility vehicle and a new X-Trail model in Sunderland. It still has plans to build the next generation Qashqai sports at the Sunderland Plant, but not the X-Trail which will be manufactured in Japan.

“This announcement is more bad news for the British car manufacturing business, and no doubt this will be zealously linked to the uncertainty surrounding Brexit. However, we should acknowledge the global falling consumer demand for both diesel and petrol vehicles, this coupled to Nissan’s weak sales performances in Europe also played a big part in this decision.

“By keeping the production of the X-Trail in Japan clearly would keep upfront investment costs to a minimum. For example, now it is not necessary to develop a new production line, recruit or train a workforce, or develop a new supply routes for this model. Nissan have recognised this decision was a combination of investment needed for emissions regulations and reduced sales forecasts. Therefore, because of these aspects, the X-Trail’s life cycle may well have been already limited.

“Nissan have made big financial investments and technology upgrades to meet its low-carbon commitments. The 60 kWh battery pack for the Nissan Leaf has been talked about for a while now, but it’s expected to hit the market this year, making it an affordable long-range all-electric vehicle. The X-Trail is not on Nissan’s EV agenda just yet, and no car manufacturer anticipated the collapse of Petrol Diesel sales to be quite as quick as it has been.

“Brexit is a sideshow to wider changes in the car industry.”