Sunderland-made Qashqai boosts UK car sales

Sunderland-made Qashqai boosts UK car sales

The Sunderland-built Nissan Qashqai helped boost new UK car sales in March to the highest number since 1999.

Over half a million people registered a new car following the biannual number plate change on 1 March, according to the latest research by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

This led to March being the most successful month for new car sales in the UK since the current system for changing number plates was introduced in 1999.

A total of 11,355 new Nissan Qashqi’s were sold during the month, making it the fifth most popular car on the road behind the Ford Focus, Ford Fiesta, Vauxhall Corsa and the Volkswagen Golf.

This increasing demand for the vehicle has since led to Nissan announcing plans to invest a further £22m into its Sunderland plant to increase production capacity for the model.

With record volumes of 300,000 cars built every year on Line 1, equalling one car every minute, the expansion will help the manufacturer keep pace with demand.

Speaking in March, Colin Lawther, Nissan’s senior vice president for manufacturing, purchasing and supply chain management in Europe, said: “Through innovative engineering and productivity improvements, my colleagues in Sunderland have broken production records to keep pace with demand, but our new generation Qashqai has reached a tipping point.

“This additional capacity will give us free supply of Qashqai for the first time, ahead of the launch of a refreshed Qashqai equipped with Piloted Drive technology from next year.”

Commenting on the new car sector in the UK, SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes, said: "The sector's strong growth in March rounds off a robust first quarter as British consumers continue to demonstrate their appetite for new cars, especially ultra-low emission vehicles.

"This confidence should see registrations remain at a high but broadly stable level over the year, but could be undermined by political or economic uncertainty."

Demand was up year-on-year across all fuel types in the UK, with diesel and petrol registrations growing by 4.8% and 4.7% respectively, while alternatively fuelled vehicles enjoyed a rise of 21.5%.

Registrations by private customers rose by 3.8%, with fleet demand increasing by 6%.