CAR giant Nissan is to stop making its Infiniti model in the North-East, putting 250 jobs at risk.

The plant on Wearside became the first Infiniti production site in Europe 2013, with the first Q30 produced in December 2015.

But now the Japanese firm has restructured its operations and will cease production of the Infiniti Q30 and QX30 in Western Europe.

OPINION: Why Nissan's decision is nothing to do with Brexit

It is in focusing on developing the brand on its largest growth markets, North America and China.

Sharon Hodgson, MP for Washington and Sunderland West, said: “Any announcement such as this is hugely disappointing.

“I have spoken to Nissan about these changes, and understand that they are a result of poor sales throughout Western Europe of the Infinity models which struggle to compete with other premium cars in Europe.

“I was assured that this announcement is not a reflection on the performance of the plant.

“Currently 250 employees work on the Infinity models, but Nissan have confirmed that efforts will be made to ensure any job losses are kept to an absolute minimum and I will be liaising with the unions in order to support where possible and if required.”

Last week it was reported that Nissan was proposing to reduce the number of shifts on a production line making Qashqai and Leaf vehicles, putting 400 jobs at risk.

The firm has once again described this as ‘rumour and speculation’.

Mr Hodgson said: “These are uncertain times for the automotive industry and I will continue to raise the concerns I have around Brexit and the move away from diesel with the Government.’’

The company has confirmed around 250 workers work on the Infiniti model, and that managers are in talks with those affected and their representatives to see if their roles can be absorbed into other areas of the business.

Nissan’s statement 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.

“As a result of this restructuring plan, production of the Q30 and QX30 is to cease by mid-2019 at the manufacturing location in Sunderland.

“Plant management will discuss any impact on the plant with employees and their representatives.

“Infiniti and Nissan Motor Corporation are confident in this restructuring plan for the long-term vision and success of the brand, for its employees, customers and shareholders.”

Last month, the firm announced production of its X-Trail model would no longer be carried out in the region, but at its Kyushu plant in Japan.

Steve Bush, a national officer with the Unite trade union, said the announcement regarding the Infiniti model was ‘sad news’.

He said: “Unite is confident however that workers on the Infiniti Q30 production line who want to stay with Nissan can be redeployed within the Sunderland plant onto other models.

“In the coming weeks Unite will be working closely with Nissan to protect jobs and ensure that redeployment is carried out in an open and transparent way.

“We will also be seeking assurances on future employment levels and the production of other models at Sunderland.”