Sunderland Nissan plant set for expansion under Infiniti plans

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SUNDERLAND’S Nissan plant has taken a massive step closer to production of its first ever car for the company’s exclusive Infiniti brand.

City council planning bosses yesterday gave the thumbs-up to plans to build a major extension to the record-breaking factory.

The new production area, designed to manufacture the first Infiniti model to be built in Europe, will cover 25,000 square metres and house specialist equipment in the body and final assembly areas of the production line.

The extension is part of a £250million investment by Infiniti which will create hundreds of new jobs in the UK automotive industry.

Nissan announced just before Christmas that the Sunderland plant was to produce an Infiniti model.

The move will create about 1,000 jobs across the firm and its UK supply chain, including around 300 at the Sunderland plant.

And here is the first look at what the new Infiniti model could look like.

The Q30 Concept vehicle which will be unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show next week, reveals a design vision of the future European production model.

“The Q30 Concept signals the next step in our strategy to significantly extend into new premium segments – and the production car will fully deliver on the concept’s promise,” said Fintan Knight, vice-president, Infiniti Europe.

“The compact segment is crucial for our future growth plans, and the decision to invest and build the vehicle in the UK further underlines our long-term commitment to Europe.” Construction work at Sunderland is due to start in the coming weeks, after planning approval was granted by the city council’s development control committee last night.

Kevin Fitzpatrick, Nissan’s vicepresident for manufacturing in the UK, said the move was an exciting one for the Wearside plant.

“The arrival of Infiniti will mark a new chapter in our operations in Sunderland,” he said.

“The Q30 Concept represents a new direction for this premium segment and for the Infiniti brand.

“Equally, this expansion reflects how Infiniti production will enhance manufacturing capability not only in our operations but throughout our supply chain.”

This latest phase in the expansion of the Sunderland factory comes after the plant cemented its place as the most productive UK car factory of all time by building more than 500,000 vehicles in 2012.

When production begins in 2015, Infiniti will become the first new car brand to be manufactured in the UK on this scale in 23 years.

Nissan’s Sunderland plant was chosen as the production location for this model in recognition of the workforce’s productivity and quality achievements over many years.