Nissan has dismissed as speculation a British Sunday newspaper report its UK factory in Sunderland is to lose production of the high-volume Micra small car when it is redesigned in 2010.

An announcement on the future of the plant is expected next month, the Sunday Times said.

The Sunday Times is speculating somewhat," a Nissan Motor (GB) spokeswoman Gloria Maydew said on Monday.

She added: "We're not in a position at this stage to talk [about product allocation to plants]."

She noted that the plant was currently adding a third shift employing 800 workers to cope with demand for the Qashqai.

"This is us looking at the plant long-term. We have every intention of keeping [it] at full capacity.

The Sunday Times quoted Nissan Motor president and CEO Ghosn as saying at a recent media event in Portugal: "There will be changes at Sunderland. The plant is efficient and, with the pound declining, becoming more cost-competitive. The Micra is competing against cars made in low-cost countries. It is not profitable in Europe, but the Qashqai is."

"Anything in the press about that is purely speculation," Maydew said. "Ghosn did not say the Micra is leaving Sunderland."

"When a new vehicle comes in, we do, of course, look  at the best place for that vehicle to be produced.

"Nothing has been confirmed at the moment."

The Sunday Times said Nissan is expanding links with other manufacturers. It already buys its Japanese market micro K-cars from Suzuki and plans to replace its Micra model with a Suzuki version made in India.

In return, Nissan will provide Suzuki with a compact 'people carrier', the paper added.

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