Record year for Sunderland’s Nissan plant

The body shop at Nissan's Sunderland plant.
The body shop at Nissan's Sunderland plant.
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NISSAN’S Sunderland plant enjoyed a record-breaking 2011.

Figures out today showed the plant smashed its previous top production tally, the best ever recorded by a UK car plant.

The Nissan factory turned out 480,485 cars last year, passing 2010’s record of 423,262, with more than a month to go, on November 16.

November was also the most productive in the 25 year history of the plant, with 46,606 vehicles built.

The plant’s record performance was led by demand for the Qashqai and Juke, with 244,298 Qashqais, 56,979 Qashqai+2s and 132,606 Jukes rolling off the lines.

The success reflects the fact that 2011 was the first full calendar year to see 24-hour production of the Qashqai and Qashqai+2 and was also the first full year of Juke production, helping Nissan achieve an all-time record European market share of 4.2 per cent.

Record production means record staffing levels, with employee numbers reaching an all-time high of 5,462 people directly employed on site.

The year ahead promises to be equally exciting, with the plant set to launch Nissan’s first lithium-ion battery production facility outside Japan and preparing for the start of Nissan Leaf production in 2013.

Kevin Fitzpatrick, Nissan vice president for manufacturing in the UK, said: “Our 25th anniversary year will go down in UK car production history and all our staff can be proud of the many milestones we have passed.

“Our 26th year promises to be equally exciting, as we launch the new battery plant at Sunderland and prepare the plant for production of the 100 per cent electric Nissan Leaf alongside the Qashqai, Juke and Note.”

Last year also saw the plant produce its six millionth vehicle in January, then in June Nissan’s Chief Executive Carlos Ghosn announced that the next generation of the Nissan Qashqai would be designed, engineered and manufactured in the UK.

And there was more good news for the plant in this week, with factory boss Trevor Mann being made a CBE in the New Year honours list, as reported in the Echo.

Washington and Sunderland West MP Sharon Hodgson, whose constituency covers the plant, said: “These record-breaking figures are great news for Nissan, Washington and the whole North East, and are testament to the hard work and skills of local workers.

“I’ve been to the factory to see the Qashqai being put together for myself, and I am in no doubt that the success of the car is down to the precision and quality of the production line and the skill of the workers on it.

“I hope 2012 sees even more records being broken, and even more jobs and training opportunities provided in Washington and right the way down the local supply chain.”