“NISSAN trusts Sunderland – Nissan trusts you.”
That was the message to Wearside workers from one of their own, as the car giant announced it is bringing production of its Infiniti luxury brand to the UK for the first time.
Colin Dodge is now a member of the board at the firm’s Japanese headquarters, but he was one of the original team who helped to set up the Sunderland factory, and he joined staff live by satellite link yesterday as Business Secretary Vince Cable visited the plant for the Infiniti announcement.
Speaking later exclusively to the Echo from Japan, Mr Dodge said the Wearside plant had earned the right to be entrusted with the firm’s most prestigious models and he had every confidence staff would rise to the challenge.
“It is a big announcement,” he said. “It is bigger than just one Nissan model being replaced by another Nissan – Infiniti is a premium brand.”
Sunderland workers had been rewarded for making their plant the most productive in Europe.
“I am very, very proud,” said Mr Dodge. “I was there from 1984, and for a big chunk of my life and I am very proud of them.”
Infiniti would see the Sunderland factory compete with the elite motoring names – a massive vote of confidence.
“They have done everything that was asked of them and they have earned the right to make a premium car to go head to-head with the German premium cars,” said Mr Dodge.
“Some things will be different – some of the process, some of the materials we use will change, but in terms of the fundamental skills of the people, we’ve already got them”
“You don’t go up against Mercedes, BMW and Audi unless you are serious. The kind of people why buy these cars are
At the moment, Infinity is better known in the US and Japan, but Nissan is keen to push the brand in Europe.
“I am sure people in this country will get used to Infiniti over the coming months and years,” said Mr Dodge.
“It is the first new car brand to start mass production in the UK since Toyota in 1992, so it does not happen very often.”
The new car would guarantee the future of the plant into the next decade, said Mr Dodge.
“We hope to start production in 2015 and a car typically last five to six years, so we will still be making cars in Sunderland until 201, and we will be bringing other cars forward, too.”.