Sunderland Nissan factory hits record high

Nissan Vice President for Manufacturing in the UK, Kevin Fitzpatrick, marking production of the Sunderland Plant's six millionth car - a Nissan Juke - with staff on the production line.

Nissan Vice President for Manufacturing in the UK, Kevin Fitzpatrick, marking production of the Sunderland Plant's six millionth car - a Nissan Juke - with staff on the production line.

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NISSAN’S super Sunderland workforce was today celebrating a hat-trick of major milestones.

The 6,000,000th car has just rolled of the production line and new figures show 2010 was record year at the Wearside plant with Nissan named as the UK’s largest car maker for the 13th year running.

Figures published today by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders showed Nissan Sunderland accounted for more than one in three of all passenger cars produced in the UK last year.

There were 423,262 units manufactured, of which 81 per cent were exported.

The previous record for production at Nissan Sunderland stood at 386,555 in 2008, which fell in 2009 as a result of the global financial crisis to 338,150.

Nissan’s Vice President for Manufacturing in the UK, Kevin Fitzpatrick, said: “2010 was a landmark year for the plant and represents a superb achievement by our workforce.

“This performance also reflects the popularity of the models we are producing in Sunderland, especially the Nissan Qashqai and the new Nissan Juke, which have both been designed, engineered and built in the UK.

“By focusing on cost competitiveness, quality and being responsive to fluctuating customer demand, we have experienced significant growth in our operation where others have declined.

“This winning formula will be the key to securing future new products and continued growth.”

The Sunderland factory passed its latest manufacturing milestone this week, with six million cars now produced since operations began in 1986.

The landmark vehicle was a Force Red Nissan Juke, which passed its final safety and quality checks on Tuesday.

Councillor Paul Watson, Leader of Sunderland City Council, said: “When Nissan moved to Sunderland, it showed that it had a commitment to the region and that has never wavered.

“These figures, which we can all be very proud of, show how Sunderland and the North East region are at the heart of European automotive manufacturing with Nissan.

“With the development of the North East low-carbon area, Nissan’s multi-million pound battery plant and the electric Leaf, I’m confident that Sunderland is going to remain at the centre of automotive manufacturing for many years to come. We can be very proud of these Made in Sunderland production figures from Nissan.”

And Nissan and its 4,900 staff were praised by Washington and Sunderland West MP Sharon Hodgson.

She said: “This is great news for Sunderland and the whole of the North East, so congratulations to Nissan and all the other companies down the supply chain who have contributed to these milestones.

“The continued success of Nissan is vital to the region’s economic future, and with the country hotly anticipating the first Wearside-built Leafs rolling off the production lines in the next few years,

“I have no doubt that they will continue to go from strength to strength, and create more and more jobs and training opportunities for the young people of Sunderland.”

The plant’s record year was driven by the continuing success of the Qashqai.

A third shift was added to the line in May, boosting annual production of Qashqai and Qashqai +2 to 271,188, up from 198,841 in 2009.

Following the start of production in August there were 44,622 Jukes made at the plant.

Earlier in the year it produced 54,580 Nissan Micras, the last of which was made in July before production moved to India after 18 years.

The Note, which shares Line 2 at Sunderland with the Juke, also performed strongly with production increasing year-on-year from 50,880 to 52,872.

Last year Nissan announced the Leaf, the new European Car of the Year, would be manufactured at Sunderland from 2013.

Construction work is progressing well on the new battery plant at Sunderland, which will produce lithium-ion batteries for the electric car.