Automotive News – Nissan fuels a surge in UK production

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“Nissan fuels a surge in UK production” 

by Abby Brooke, Sales & Marketing Consultant, John Gibson Associates.

Sunderland (United Kingdom) — Japanese carmaker Nissan officially launched production of its new Qashqai model last week, coinciding with a renaissance for Britain’s car manufacturing industry that is set to smash records in the coming years.

The second-generation version of the car is being built at Nissan’s main European plant in Sunderland, northeastern England, boosting employment at Britain’s biggest car plant.

The Qashqai, designed in Nissan’s London headquarters and originally launched in 2006, is a crossover that combines elements of a sports utility vehicle and a hatchback, and is the Japanese firm’s best-selling car in Europe.

“The Nissan Qashqai blazed a trail when we started production in 2006,” Nissan’s chief performance officer Trevor Mann told journalists gathered at a launch event in Sunderland on Wednesday.

“It invented the crossover segment, propelled the Nissan brand in Europe to a new level and helped our plant in Sunderland to set new standards in productivity and quality.”

Nissan hand-picked Sunderland in 1984 as the location for the facility, which now makes four different models — the Leaf, the Note, the Juke and the Qashqai — and has produced a total of one million vehicles over the last two years.

Since the Qashqai was launched, around 1.75 million units have rolled off the production line at Sunderland.

“Looking ahead, within the next year this new model will take (total) Qashqai production at Sunderland beyond 2.0 million in eight years — and this will be another new record for the UK car industry.”

This week’s launch will create another 500 jobs at the plant, where the total workforce will top 7,000 for the first time.

“We have a big factory, it’s competitive, it builds good quality (and) it’s cost effective,” said Kevin Fitzpatrick, VP manufacturing for Nissan in the UK.

He added: “It has been quite a year for us here in Sunderland. Twelve months ago we were celebrating setting a new production record (for 2012), as we became the first UK car plant ever to make more than 500,000 units in one year.”

Britain’s long-troubled car industry appears to be flourishing once again, with the help of foreign-owned automakers like Japanese pair Nissan and Toyota, and Indian-owned Jaguar Land Rover.