THE start of a new era at Sunderland’s Nissan plant has moved a step closer.
The firm announced late last year that the Wearside factory was to build a new model, the Q30, for its Infiniti luxury brand from 2015.
The new car will need its own bodyshop at the plant and also requires an extension to the final assembly area.
Work on the project began yesterday, with a ground-breaking ceremony by executive vice-president – and former Sunderland plant boss – Trevor Mann, and Fintan Knight, vice-president for Infiniti Europe, Middle East and Africa.
Sunderland will be one of just four Nissan plants worldwide building cars for the Infiniti brand and the Q30 will be exclusively built on Wearside.
“Securing the Infiniti Q30 for production at Sunderland was a tremendous achievement by the workforce and reflects the quality levels which they have reached,” said Mr Mann.
“The existing Sunderland plant is already the largest in UK automotive history and this £250million investment will move the plant even further up the value chain, and reconfirm our commitment to their future.”
Fintan Knight told an invited audience: “This is a significant step for the Infiniti brand as we establish manufacturing here.
“The design centre in Paddington, the Technical centre in Cranfield and the ongoing partnership with the Infiniti Red Bull Racing team in Milton Keynes, testify to our strong link with the UK.
“Our investment here amplifies the brand’s presence in Europe, one of the key markets for Infiniti, but provides clear intent as we gear up for sales of the compact premium Q30 in 2015.
“Infiniti is committed to growing our product offering over the coming years as we challenge the traditional premium offerings.”
The new facilities will cover 25,000sq metres of new production space, with construction and facility installation due to be completed in time for the Q30 launch.
The new bodyshop facilities will allow the Q30 to be assembled on site, while the trim and chassis extension will include a new engine installation facility.