Infiniti is pulling out of Western Europe after Nissan’s premium arm was no longer considered a viable business here.
The move is part of a wider global restructuring plan for Infiniti. It will shift its focus to North America and China, and continue its smaller operations in Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Asia.
Infiniti launched in Europe and the UK in 2008, but it has never taken off here. The company has just 60,000 customers in Europe, 10,000 of which are in the UK.
The company cites no sustainable way of investing in the kind of technology needed to reduce its fleet emissions in Europe as the chief reason for the move. Like all other car makers Infiniti will have to invest heavily in electrification in order to reduce its fleet emissions, which are mandated at an average of 95g/km of CO2 in Europe from next year.
With the vast R&D sums needed to be invested in electrified technology, and a lack of buyers to help fund the development, the decision has been taken not to invest in the brand in Europe to meet the stricter European targets.
A spokesman said that the targets could be met by Infiniti, like any other car maker, with investment in electrified technology, but there was no viable way of the company to do so.
The early axing of the Q30 and QX30 from Sunderland, which were never big sellers but have been hit further by the drop in demand from diesel, would leave Infiniti with only the Q50 saloon as the sole model in its range.
Instead, the company will focus on producing more SUV models for China and North America.
Some 250 people work on production of Infiniti models in Sunderland, out of a total of around 7000. Nissan is hoping to redeploy Infiniti staff as much as possible across Europe.
Its dealers will stay open until early next year to work through a transition, and during this period Infiniti will work on a plan to ensure that customers are still looked after in the future for servicing, warranty, aftersales and recall work.