Production of the third-generation Nissan Qashqai SUV was reportedly supposed to begin next month, but according to the Financial Times, the date has been pushed back considerably to mid 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Nissan told Autocar in a statement: “Preparations continue for the launch of the new Qashqai in Sunderland, which represents a £400 million (RM2.2 billion) investment in the plant. We have not yet announced a date for the next-generation model, but look forward to sharing some exciting news in the coming months.”

Apparently, the delay would also allow Nissan to work out its course of action should Britain not secure a post-Brexit deal with the European Union. The automaker’s plant in Sunderland produces approximately 500,000 cars annually and are exported to Europe – two-thirds of those are the Qashqais. Any trade tariffs with the EU would “jeopardise” Sunderland’s business model, it claimed.

The current, second-generation Qashqai has been on sale since 2014. Word is the new model will feature two new hybrid powertrains, one of which is likely the e-Power system. Nissan Europe’s vice president of product planning, Ponz Pandikuthira once said: “We’re investigating the e-Power technology for Europe,” suggesting the likelihood of its introduction in Europe. Expect its ProPilot advanced driver assist systems to be featured as well.

GALLERY: Nissan Qashqai spyshots

GALLERY: Second-generation Nissan Qashqai facelift