Nissan's Infiniti to exit western Europe early next year

Nissan to end Infiniti production in UK

Of a total of 442,000 cars rolling off the production lines at Sunderland last year, just 12,400 were Infinitis, down from 27,000 the year before.

Both vehicles manufactured at Infiniti's Sunderland, United Kingdom factory-the Q30 hatchback and QX30 subcompact crossover-will exit production by the middle of 2019.

Infiniti said this decision was part of a restructuring plan that allows it to focus purely on its most active markets - namely, North America and China.

The models' shuttering will be the second blow within weeks for the U.K.'s biggest auto plant after Nissan abandoned a plan to make the X-Trail sport utility vehicle there, citing uncertainty over Brexit as a factor.

"Western Europe remains the most challenging and competitive region for premium cars", Infiniti's chief spokesman, Trevor Hale, told Reuters.

According to Car Sales Base, the brand sold just 6250 vehicles across Europe a year ago, down from 12,571 in 2017.

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"The commercial reality for Infiniti in western Europe is that there is simply no visibility of a viable and sustainable business, especially given the regulatory challenges", he added.

Diesels are being discontinued, but gasoline engines are still very much a part of powertrain plans for the future, including Nissan's innovative VC-Turbo variable compression ratio engine that gives the gas engine the torque and efficiency of a hybrid or diesel.

The company will place more focus on its SUV line-up in North America, bring five new vehicles to China over the next five years, work to improve quality of sales and residual value, and realize more synergies with Nissan.

"Infiniti markets and sells independently as a premium brand", a company representative explained to The Drive.

All but Belfast's Mervyn Stewart Infiniti site are now operated by the Infiniti Retail Group.

It is unknown if the report of reduced operating hours is linked to the Infiniti decision.

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