Why Nissan should continue to invest in our Sunderland plant

Workers at Nissan's plant in Sunderland on the production line for the Infiniti Q30 vehicle, as the boss of Nissan has said future decisions about the car giant's Sunderland plant will depend on the outcome of Brexit negotiations. Picture by Owen Humphreys/PA Wire
Workers at Nissan's plant in Sunderland on the production line for the Infiniti Q30 vehicle, as the boss of Nissan has said future decisions about the car giant's Sunderland plant will depend on the outcome of Brexit negotiations. Picture by Owen Humphreys/PA Wire
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Nissan’s chief executive has said all decisions on the company’s investment in Sunderland are on ice until Britain’s Brexit deal with the EU is clear.

We look at why the manufacturing giant should continue to invest in Wearside and the North East.

Related article: Nissan halts investment decisions on Sunderland plant until Brexit deal clear - but boss ‘reasonably optimistic’

1) Our amazing workforce

A total 6,700 workers put their all into Nissan, day-in, day-out.

The plant’s success is attributed to its workers, with Sunderland’s skilled workforce steeped in a long history of manufacturing and heavy industry.

2) 30 years of experience in building Nissan cars

Since the first Nissan Bluebird rolled off the production line in 1986, a skilled, experienced team and hi-tech plant has been built up to make it a mighty powerhouse of car manufacture. Nissan Sunderland knows what it’s doing.

3) We were the first Nissan plant outside Japan – and the experiment paid off

It was a historic moment when Nissan Sunderland began production 30 years ago, starting with just 22 workers building 5,000 cars in its first year at what was the Japanese giant’s first car plant outside its home country.

Fast forward to today and we have 6,700 workers producing 500,000 cars a year. A tremendous success story.

4) We’re so good, we’ve even sent Nissan cars to Japan

Never mind coals to Newcastle, we’ve shipped Nissans to Japan. The Qashqai was the company’s first vehicle to be completely designed and built in the UK.

The first boatload set off from the Port of Tyne in 2007 destined for Japan, where it was sold under the name Dualis.

5) The Sunderland plant is the biggest car manufacturing site in the UK

According to Nissan itself, we’re the biggest and best in Britain – who would turn their backs on that?

6) We love our Nissans

We don’t just make them, we buy them. Hundreds of Sunderland-built Nissan vehicles can be seen buzzing round the streets of Sunderland – their owners proud their cars were built in the city.

7) We’re electric

Sunderland and the North East has become a leading light in the world of electric vehicle production – but it has also played a massive part in getting them on the road.

More than 1,000 electric vehicle charging points were installed for electric vehicles by 2013, providing a tremendous infrastructure to support sales of the Sunderland-built Nissan LEAF.

Add to that countless schemes to get people trying, buying and hiring the LEAF.

8) We’re the future

On top of Nissan’s own apprenticeship and training schemes, our schools, colleges and universities are geared up to the future of the car manufacturing and electric vehicles.

Ranging from specialist college courses on electric vehicle service and repair to the Skills Academy for Sustainable Manufacturing and Innovation (SASMI), the North East knows its stuff – and is ready for the future.

9) Our leadership is so good, you pinched our boss and took him to Japan

Durham Technical Collage graduate Trevor Mann joined Nissan’s Sunderland plant in 1985 and worked his way up to become plant manager and top boss of Nissan Motor Manufacturing UK.

His rise continued, however, and he in January 2014 he was appointed chief performance officer based at Nissan’s global HQ in Yokohama, Japan.

10) It’s all here – and you’ve invested millions already

Nissan Sunderland is in great shape with a full order book and fantastic, up-to-date facilities built up over three decades, including an on-site lithium-ion battery factory supporting electric vehicle production.

11) The powerful supply chain

More than 30,000 skilled workers are employed in Sunderland and elsewhere in the region, working for the scores of companies supplying components for Nissan vehicles.

It’s a powerful network of suppliers, each of which has made its own substantial investments to ensure solid, quality production.

12) Transport links

A fundamental part of Nissan’s decisions to set up shop in Sunderland in the first place, Wearside has good road and rail links to other areas of the UK, and a deepwater port just a few miles away on the Tyne allowing ready access to export markets.

13) Strong Government support

All Governments, national and local, have been strongly behind Nissan’s involvement in Sunderland from day one, with significant incentives and support for manufacturers in the region.

This has enabled Sunderland to flourish in Wearside, spearheading new developments and putting it at the forefront of the global car manufacturing industry.

14) Sunderland and Britain will remain strong, no matter what

Despite fears of the impact of Brexit, the UK remains, and will remain, a strong economy and a major player on the world stage.

Just as Japan remains a strong island national standing on its own two feet, so do we.