Car giant Nissan has started production of a new engine which could lead to the creation of 200 jobs, it was announced today.
The two-litre petrol engine is being built at the firm's plant in Sunderland as part of a £15 million investment programme over the next few years.
Around 60,000 of the engines will be produced each year, safeguarding 130 jobs and creating up to 200 additional posts by 2013, depending on the market.
Kevin Fitzpatrick, Nissan's UK vice president of manufacturing, said: "Today marks an important new stage in engine production in Sunderland.
"In recent years our employees have focused on improving the overall competitiveness of our engine operation so we are able to bring new business like this to the plant."
Margaret Fay, chairman of One North East, which gave Nissan a grant of almost £2 million, said: "This fresh investment from Nissan is a real boost both for the staff at its Sunderland plant and for the wider automotive industry in our region."