Nissan backs Britain again as second new car awarded to Sunderland

The new car will see both production lines in operation for the first time. Picture: Reuters
The new car will see both production lines in operation for the first time. Picture: Reuters
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Japanese car giant Nissan is to build a new hatchback at its UK plant, creating more than 1,000 jobs at the site and along the supply chain.

The new medium-sized model will be built in Sunderland in 2014, sparking an additional 225 jobs at the factory and 900 at component companies supplying Nissan.

The move follows an announcement last month that the north-east of England plant will also produce a compact car from next year.

Once recruitment for both models is complete, the Sunderland plant’s workforce will stand at a record 6,225, supporting annual production of more than 500,000 cars. About 80,000 of the new hatchback model –which will be named closer to its sales launch – will be built annually, triggering the need for the Sunderland plant to launch an additional shift.

This will see both the factory’s production lines operating around the clock for the first time in the plant’s 26-year history, a move that will take manufacturing capacity beyond 550,000 units.

The announcement also consolidates Sunderland’s position as the UK’s largest car manufacturer, a title it has held since 1998.

Nissan is investing an additional £127 million in its Sunderland operation, supported by an offer of £8.2m from the UK government’s regional growth fund.

Chief operating officer Toshiyuki Shiga said: “In Europe, Nissan has achieved record growth in recent years by providing innovative, customer-focused models like Qashqai and Juke that are designed, developed and produced within the region.

“Nissan already produces more vehicles in Europe than any other Asian manufacturer and the [latest] model will bring world-class quality and leading technology to our customers at the heart of the European C-segment.”

Prime Minister David Cameron, visiting Nissan’s headquarters in Yokohama, Japan, said the decision to build a further model in the UK was “fantastic news”.

“It’s proof of the strength and vitality of the British manufacturing industry that leading companies like Nissan are expanding their production in the UK,” he said.

“Nissan’s investment in the UK is a huge vote of confidence in the skills and flexibility of the UK workforce. We want to attract more investment like this and that’s why we’re encouraging foreign companies with incentives like the regional growth fund.”

Nissan built the Sunderland plant in 1984 and production began in 1986, with total investment set to reach £3.5 billion.

More than 6.5 million cars have been built at the factory, with 80 per cent of production exported to 97 countries around the world.

Paul Everitt, chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, said: “Nissan’s commitment to the UK demonstrates the growing strength and global competitiveness of our sector and with jobs being created at the plant and in the supply chain it shows the broader economic impact of today’s news.

“Manufacturing is at the heart of the recovery and with long-term investments being made throughout the automotive sector, it will play an increasingly important role in the UK economy.”