Nissan Qashqai in production
Nissan topped off its 30th anniversary in the UK in style after announcing it produced over half a million vehicles at its Sunderland plant last year.
Nissan recorded a significant 30th anniversary in the UK in 2016, with output of more than 500,000 vehicles, cementing its position as the largest British car plant in history.
Production in Sunderland of 507,430 vehicles last year was the second highest total in the plant’s history.
Highlights included record volumes of the all-electric LEAF and the 2nd generation Qashqai, with the original crossover now made on both production lines for the first time.
And 2017 is set to be another big year for Nissan in Sunderland. Total volume at the plant is now approaching 9 million since the first car rolled off the line in 1986.
Other milestones on the horizon include the launch of a refreshed Qashqai, and the introduction of Autonomous Drive technology.
Kevin Fitzpatrick, Nissan divisional vice president, European manufacturing, said: “Since the birth of our factory three decades ago, North East England has become one of the major international automotive centres.
“Britain is now home to Nissan’s best-selling and most technologically-advanced models in Europe, covering our market-leading crossover range, the world’s best-selling electric vehicle and two premium models for global export.
“This has been achieved through hard work, innovative thinking, ingenuity and strong partnerships with forward-thinking local companies. With future models secured and new facilities in development, congratulations to all of my colleagues in Sunderland and across the UK on another great year.”
Following the start of production of the Infiniti Q30 in late 2015, a second Infiniti model, the QX30, went into production for global markets in 2016 – which also represented the first time vehicles have been exported from Sunderland to the USA and China.
Other highlights in 2016 included the installation of 19,000 new solar panels alongside the plant’s existing 10 wind turbines, taking the contribution of renewables to 7% of the plant’s total electricity requirements.
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Looking ahead, new facilities under development at the company’s Sunderland plant include a new £37m Extra Large Press line, due to start production in the coming weeks. Other investment announced in 2016 includes the £22m Qashqai capacity expansion and £26.5m in manufacturing a future generation of electric vehicle (EV) batteries in the UK.
In addition to the company’s £3bn annual injection into the British economy through suppliers, services and wages, £650m ongoing investment in new facilities and future models in Sunderland will take the total capital investment by Nissan in the plant since it opened to beyond £4bn.
Cllr Paul Watson, leader of Sunderland City Council, said: “Nissan’s continued excellent performance at its Sunderland plant is great news for the city, the region and the UK. We have the UK’s largest car factory and the strongest automotive component supply chain all within our city.
“Sunderland’s central location in the UK, excellent infrastructure, UK and Europe leading connectivity all contribute to producing the tangible results we’re seeing.
“Now we have the funding in place for the International Advanced Manufacturing Park, located just north of Nissan’s plant, we are set to create further growth, thanks both to the number of jobs it will provide and the high-quality of the jobs in the industries the IAMP will attract.
“The city’s long-term plan for targeted growth underpins its continued success in attracting automotive, hi-tech and advanced manufacturing companies from countries worldwide.”
Nissan’s continuing investment in the UK has been supported by several previously announced UK Government grants for innovation and energy efficiency projects, including future-generation EV batteries (£7.1m).
Employment in Nissan’s UK design studio (Paddington, London), technical centre (Cranfield Bedfordshire), manufacturing plant (Sunderland, Tyne and Wear) and sales and marketing operations (Maple Cross, Hertfordshire) now totals more than 8,000.
A further 28,000 jobs in Nissan’s UK supply chain and 4,000 in its UK dealer network takes the total British jobs supported by Nissan to more than 40,000.