Boost for UK automotive sector as Nissan announces shift of production from Barcelona to Sunderland.

Nissan is to close its Barcelona main plant and two nearby facilities starting from December, but it will keep open two facilities in northern Spain, the company's Europe chairman, Gianluca De Ficchy, said.

"There was no viable solution for the future of the Barcelona factory," De Ficchy told reporters on Thursday as workers protested outside the plant.

The closure was announced on Thursday by Nissan CEO Makoto Uchida during a webcast detailing the automaker's new global business plan that includes a reduction of global production capacity by about a fifth to help cut €2.8 billion from fixed costs.

Uchida said Nissan will keep open its plant in Sunderland, England. "In western Europe we will maintain production of our core models in our UK plant in Sunderland and improve efficiency," he said.

The future of the Sunderland plant – which produces cars such as the Qashqai, Leaf and Juke – has been uncertain for some time, and so the news will be welcomed there.

Nissan made the decision to end its operation in Barcelona despite proposals made by the local authorities to keep the plant running, the Spanish government said in a statement.

The Barcelona factory currently builds pickups and vans.

The company plans to relocate production of the Navara pickup to South Africa, while a replacement for the e-NV200 van would be built at Renault's plant in Maubeuge, France, according to reports.

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