Japanese car giant Nissan is to build a new hatchback at its UK plant, creating more than 1,000 jobs at the site and at component companies. The announcement was made by Prime Minister David Cameron and Nissan chief operating officer Toshiyuki Shiga, during a visit to Nissan’s headquarters in Yokohama, Japan on 10 April, The Telegraph reported.
The new medium-sized model will be built in Sunderland in 2014, creating 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 plant will also produce a compact car based on the so-called Invitation concept model from next year.
The two new models will result in more than 3,000 jobs being created in the UK automotive sector within the next two years – 625 at Nissan and the remainder across the supply base.
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 half a million models.
Nissan said the new hatchback, which will be named closer to its sales launch, marks the carmaker’s return to the mainstream medium segment in Europe and will play a major role in the company’s continued expansion.
Around 80,000 of the new hatchback model 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 which 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.
In 2010 Sunderland became the first UK car plant to produce more than 400,000 models in a single year when 423,000 Qashqais, Notes and Jukes rolled off the line.
The record was beaten last year when 480,000 cars were produced, and Nissan said the plant was preparing to pass the half-million mark for the first time.
Nissan is investing an additional £127 million in its Sunderland operation, supported by an offer of £8.2 million from the Government’s 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% of production exported to 97 world markets.
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