LONDON — Nissan will resume vehicle production at its UK plant in early June, the automaker said in a statement.
The plant is the largest car factory in the UK and Nissan’s largest in Europe. The Qashqai and Juke SUVs, and the Leaf electric car, are built at the facility in Sunderland, northeast England. Production fell 22 percent to 346,535 units last year.
Vehicle production at the plant was halted March 13 due to the coronavirus outbreak. About 150 employees returned to work last week to begin engine production, Nissan said.
Nissan is waiting to see how car sales recover before ramping up the factory to full production.
“Our goal is to navigate through this crisis while maintaining activities critical for business continuity and to make sure we are prepared for the time when business resumes in Europe,” the company said.
Nissan will reopen its other European assembly plant in Barcelona, Spain, plant on May 4, it said last week.
Nissan said has spent recent weeks carrying out extensive risk assessments and benchmarking with other manufacturers around the world to put in place safety measures. The new protocols are currently being piloted at Sunderland by 50 staff in the powertrain unit.
Other automakers are reopening their UK plants ahead of Nissan.
Jaguar Land Rover, the UK’s largest auto manufacturer by production volume, will restart production at its Solihull factory on May 18, focusing on exports to China. Its plants in Halewood and Castle Bromwich will remain shut for the time being.
Rolls-Royce will resume output on May 4.”We are receiving orders from our customers and we are heeding the British government’s call to resume production and support the British economy,” CEO Torsten Mueller-Oetvoes said.
UK car production fell by 38 percent to 78,767 vehicles in March because of account the shutdowns, the SMMT auto association said on Thursday.