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MADRID: The last vehicle was expected to roll off the production line at the historic Barcelona factory of Japanese carmaker Nissan later Thursday ahead of its closure on December 31.

In the meantime, discussions continue as to the future of the site's 3,000-strong work force.

Before the pandemic struck the global economy amidships the Barcelona facility specialising in all-terrain vehicles was churning out some 200,000 cars a year.

Amid reports that Belgian manufacturer Punch could take over the site and use it to house some 2,000 jobs for a hydrogen car project, UGT union secretary general Pepe Alvarez said the closure "makes me very sad."

"Now we have to find a project to continue activity at the site," Alvarez insisted.

Nissan announced in spring last year it was mothballing the site as it sought to contain the fallout of Covid-19, sparking union anger.

After talks, the manufacturer agreed to delay closure to the end of this year from an initially proposed summer 2020 to allow more time for potential rescues for the three-factory complex at Zona Franca, Sant Andreu and Montcada abutting Barcelona's port area.

As the clock ticks down to December 31, uncertainty remains after one potential investor, China's Great Wall Motors (GMW) on Monday shelved a bid first tabled in September to take over the main plant.

"It's bad news," the reindustrialisation commission member admitted. But "there are other projects," notably Punch's hydrogen plan.

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