Nissan has done it again!
The Japanese car giant has announced its Sunderland plant is to produce a new version of its successful Juke small crossover, guaranteeing thousands of jobs into the next decade.
With the plant already producing a second generation version of the best-selling Qashqai, today’s £100million investment secures both production lines on Wearside and the jobs of 34,000 people employed by the firm and its British suppliers beyond 2020.
Chancellor George Osborne congratulated the Sunderland workforce on the news.
He said: “It’s fantastic news that Nissan will be building their new car in Sunderland and securing valuable jobs for thousands of working people in the area.
“Our ambitious plan to build the Northern Powerhouse means building on the area’s strengths – including manufacturing – and this announcement is an important sign of Britain being chosen as a global leader in car production.”
Nissan Europe chairman Paul Willcox joined the Chancellor at the plant for today’s announcement.
“The Juke’s unique design is one of the reasons Nissan is now the undisputed crossover leader, underpinning five consecutive years of sales growth in Europe,” he said.
“With the next generation Juke now confirmed for future production, customers can be assured that Nissan is going to remain the benchmark in the crossover segment for many years to come.
“This announcement also gives security to our Sunderland plant beyond 2020, which the team has earned through many years of hard work and their ability to continually raise the bar on quality.”
Like the current Juke, the new model will be a product of Nissan’s UK operation. The company’s European design team, based in Paddington, and its European Engineering Headquarters in Cranfield, Bedfordshire, will be instrumental in developing the new model.
Launched in 2010, the Juke has helped the Sunderland plant break the 500,000 production mark in each of the last three years.
The Wearside factory also produces the Note and the all-electric Leaf and is currently gearing up to start production for the firm’s high-end Infiniti brand later this year.
‘It is a really fundamental day for the plant’
Today’s praise from George Osborne is the second in little more than six months the plant has been congratulated by the Chancellor.
Mr Osborne was at the plant at the end of February to announce £1.4million of Government funding which the company would match to create a £2.8million project to support intensive training for 1,742 staff.
And the good news announced is just the latest in a string of positive developments for the Sunderland plant.
In June the firm announced it was to install a £37million new press line at the Wearside factory, with a life span of a quarter of a century.
Senior Vice President for manufacturing, purchasing and supply chain management in Europe, Colin Lawther, was in no doubt about the significance of the announcement.
“It is a really fundamental day for the plant,” he said.
“This is a new investment, £37million, and a 25-year life for this press, so it is really important for the plant going forward.
“Nissan thinks this plant is very fundamental to its success in Europe. It has a long history and we are sure it has a long future.”
June also saw the firm start recruiting for 300 new jobs as the plant geared up to begin production for the firm’s premium Infiniti brand.
Production of the new Q30 will begin later this year, when Infiniti will become the first new car brand to start manufacturing in the UK on such a scale in more than 20 years.
Business leaders’ delight
Business and community leaders welcomed today’s announcement.
“This announcement from Nissan is another vote of confidence in the workforce, the new technology, our city, and shows how the wider North East region has become a major player in the automotive industry,” said city council leader Coun Paul Watson.
“With a visit from the Chancellor, we can see how Nissan is important to not just the city or regional economy but the national one too.
“This is a company that produces more than half-a-million vehicles annually, more than the entire Italian car industry, and more than eight out of ten vehicles are exported.”
Nissan’s Sunderland plant is now the biggest producer in the history of the UK car industry.
The firm employs nearly 8,000 people in its UK design, engineering, sales and manufacturing operations, and supports 27,000 more jobs in the plant’s supply chain , as well as almost 4,000 in dealerships.
North East Chamber of Commerce chief executive James Ramsbotham said: “This is a wonderful announcement and is a well-deserved seal of approval for the Nissan team at Washington.
“This investment is a vote of confidence for the ongoing management of Nissan and one that its supply chain will be thrilled to hear.
“It certainly maintains the sentiment that the Washington site provides manufacturing of excellent quality and will continue to do in the years ahead.”
SAFC commercial director Gary Hutchinson, chairman of the chamber’s Sunderland committee and the Sunderland Business Group, said: “This is excellent news for Nissan and gives further confirmation of the Sunderland plant as a centre of global excellence for manufacturing – both within Nissan and motor manufacturing in general,” he said.
“The productivity they are achieving is staggering, and the people of Sunderland should be proud the plant is based in our city and continues to go from strength to strength, due mainly to its management and its people.
“This welcome news should safeguard and bring more jobs to the plant and supply chain, who between them now employ well over 30,000 people mainly in this region.
“Nissan is also playing a key part in the whole region’s export trade, which should not be underestimated.”