Nissan will begin producing an extra model at its Sunderland plant in 2014. The new car was announced during a visit by UK prime minister David Cameron to Nissan’s Japanese headquarters.
The so far unnamed addition to the range will be a C-segment hatchback (broadly speaking, a rival for the Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf) designed to replace the Tiida, which is not currently sold in the UK.
This is the second piece of good news for Nissan’s UK factory in the space of a few weeks; the company used last month’s Geneva Motor Show to announce that it would build a new B-segment (Fiesta-sized) car at Sunderland from 2013. The two models are expected to generate 625 additional jobs at Nissan itself and a total of about 3,000 when the impact on suppliers is taken into account. The new recruits will take the total headcount at Sunderland to 6,225.
Responding to journalists’ questions on Twitter, Nissan’s UK communications director, Tom Barnard, confirmed that Sunderland would eventually produce five separate cars – the two new models, the Juke, a successor to the current Qashqai and the battery-powered Leaf, corresponding to production of some 550,000 units, or about the size of the entire Italian motor industry.
The expansion cements Sunderland’s position as the UK’s biggest car plant, which it has held since 1998. Last year, it produced 480,000 vehicles, a record for any British car factory. It also emphasises the growing gap between Nissan’s British production levels and the scale of activity at the plants operated by Honda and Toyota in the UK. Honda’s Swindon site was badly affected last year by the knock-on effects from natural disasters in Japan and Thailand but Ken Keir, executive vice-president, Honda Motor Europe, speaking to UK journalists at the Fleet Street Motoring Group last week, said that UK Honda production had now recovered to 250,000 on an annual basis. Toyota’s UK plant at Burnaston produced 128,000 units in 2011.