Nissan is cutting hundreds of jobs at its factory in Sunderland as demand for diesel cars continues to dry up.

The plant, which builds the Qashqai and Juke SUVs, will continue to build Nissan cars post-Brexit – and company insiders insisted that the UK's exit from the European Union had nothing to do with the decision – but falling demand in the wake of numerous diesel controversies in recent years and months has left the Japanese company with no choice but to cut jobs.

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'We will be managing a planned short-term reduction in powertrain supply and plant volumes,' Nissan said in a statement. 'This is not related to Brexit. In time we expect volumes to increase as we prepare to launch the next-generation Juke, Qashqai and X-Trail.'

More than three million Qashqais have rolled off the production line at Sunderland in its 12 years of production. Last year a record 346,856 units were built at the factory in the northeast. The small SUV, which also sold in record numbers last year, has seen production in Japan, China and Russia too. 

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In the first quarter of 2018, diesel demand in Britain fell by a third, while Nissan's sales in the UK alone have fallen by 35 percent – that's worse than the UK sales trend overall, which has slipped by 12 percent.

Nissan isn't the only carmaker cutting jobs in the UK – Jaguar Land Rover is culling close to 1,000 jobs, while employees at Vauxhall's Ellesmere Port plant have been under threat since PSA took over the company last year. 

Gallery: Nissan Sunderland