NISSAN’S latest success has been welcomed on an international, national and regional level.
But it is in the heart of Sunderland that today’s announcement has been most warmly received.
City council leader Paul Watson said: “The creation of a further 1,000 jobs at the Nissan plant and in the supply chain is fantastic news for Sunderland and the region.
“It confirms Sunderland’s position at the heart of European and world automotive manufacturing, and is further evidence that the city is open for business and open to business.
“Coming just weeks after the decision to build the Invitation model here, the announcement of an additional £127million investment in the plant is a proud testament to the skills and dedication of the Sunderland workforce.”
Plant manufacturing chief Kevin Fitzpatrick is the man with the responsibility for making the new car a reality.
The recent rush of good news was a direct result of the company’s business aims. “Nissan has a mid-term plan called Nissan Power 88,” he said, “which is about significant growth in the scope and the number of cars we make.”
“In the next five years, Nissan is going to nearly double its production output – to do that, it needs to expand the model range.”
Today’s announcement means Nissan will introduce four new models at Sunderland over the next two years, with the hatchback announced today joining the new-look Qashqai, the Leaf and a model based on the Invitation concept, announced last month.
“It is going to be quite challenging, but we have been recruiting engineers and technicians and we are going to be continuing that for the next year,” said Kevin.
The plant will introduce 24-hour working on its second line to cope with increased output: “It is quite a big step and we are going to be recruiting five or six hundred staff. We will need a new shift’s worth of supervisors etc, so it is gong to be quite a significant recruitment and training activity.
“But it is a brilliant problem to have. It is the best problem we have had for a long time.”
Gary Hutchinson, chairman of the North East Chamber of Commerce (NECC) Sunderland committee, said: “This is phenomenal news for Nissan Sunderland and this region.
“Again Nissan, as a global company, continues to invest in the plant and its future.
“This is testament to the workforce at the plant and the management in delivering impressive output on a sustained basis.
“Sunderland should be very proud of this announcement, as that confidence in the workforce and its manufacturing skill is a key decision behind this further investment.”
NECC chief executive James Ramsbotham added: “I would like to congratulate the company and its incredible workforce on another major coup for the Wearside plant.
“The unparalleled level of performance from the Wearside workforce can only have served to convince Nissan’s senior management that Sunderland is the perfect place to oversee production of this new vehicle, coming hot on the heels of last month’s announcement that it had secured the new compact model.
“The importance of Nissan to the regional economy cannot be underestimated.
“For every person employed by the company, another four are supported in Nissan’s supply chain, and with employment at the plant reaching a record high this is another welcome achievement.
“Today’s announcement, coupled with securing the Invitation, the Sunderland Plant set to launch Nissan’s first lithium-ion battery production facility outside Japan, and preparations well under way for the start of Nissan Leaf production in 2013, the year ahead looks incredibly exciting for the company.”