INFINITI has announced that it will be withdrawing from western Europe, including the United Kingdom, from 2020 and ending production in Sunderland this year.
The withdrawal will involve closing all retail operations. However, dealerships will remain open until a ‘tailored transition plan is put in place’.
The Nissan subsidiary has said the restructure will focus on growth in its largest markets, North America and China, but head of Infiniti Europe Steve McLennan said western Europe simply wasn’t a ‘viable and sustainable business’.
He explained: ‘The decision to withdraw Infiniti operations from western Europe was extremely difficult to take and only after careful consideration of all possible scenarios.
‘The commercial reality for Infiniti in western Europe is that there is simply no visibility of a viable and sustainable business either currently or in the years to come.
‘The global strategy for Infiniti is to focus upon the major growth opportunity regions of China and North America to optimise the business.’
Part of the brand’s new plan is to electrify all models in its portfolio by 2021 and discontinue diesel offerings, while putting more focus on its SUV line-up in North America and bringing five new models to China in the next five years.
In a statement, Infiniti said: ‘In anticipation of its planned withdrawal from western Europe in early 2020, the company is working to find alternative opportunities for any employees who would be affected, consulting with employee representatives where necessary and identifying opportunities for transition and training support where appropriate.
‘Once this is complete, Infiniti will work with its retailers to conclude end-of-franchise agreements, providing the support and services necessary to ensure a smooth transition.’