Sunderland’s Nissan plant has helped the car giant reach a remarkable landmark.
The firm has announced it has produced 150million vehicles globally, including more than 9million built on Wearside.
Nissan says the number of vehicles built outside its Japanese homeland has rocketed in recent years, with 76.5% of its first 100million vehicles produced in Japan, but the same percentage of the next 50million built elsewhere, including 13% in Europe.
Production at Nissan’s UK, Spanish and Russian plants has now topped 13million vehicles.
Writing exclusively for the Echo, Nissan Europe’s Senior Vice President for Manufacturing, Purchasing and Supply Chain Colin Lawther paid tribute to the Sunderland plant:
"This month, Nissan surpassed an important milestone with the production of our 150 millionth vehicle worldwide. Considering that Sunderland is responsible for producing more than 9 million of these vehicles, including 10% of the last 50 million, this milestone would not have happened if not for the dedication and commitment by the team here.
"At the same time that we celebrate 150 million vehicles produced worldwide, the very first new Nissan LEAFs have also just started to roll off of our production line in Japan. This comes as trial production is gearing up in Sunderland for the new Nissan LEAF to launch soon.
"This new electric vehicle will be critical to helping Nissan produce our next 150 million vehicles worldwide, but also helping to move people to a better world.
"Alongside our latest Nissan milestone, our 7,000 employees in Sunderland have this year also become part of the world’s largest automotive group, selling more units per year than any other competitor as part of our global alliance with Renault and Nissan.
"Our global economies of scale and our Alliance synergies means that Nissan can continue to invest and assemble new products in countries like the UK, that form part of our continuing growth and product offensive strategy.
"For example, that strategy is reflected in our decision to make the next Qashqai and X-Trail here.
"Production of these important vehicles follows more than £4bn investment in Sunderland since the plant was established and production began in 1986. In the intervening years, we have increased employment more than tenfold and expanded volume from 500 to 500,000 per year.
"Our presence in this region and elsewhere around the world will undergo a major shift in the coming years as we prepare for the biggest shake-up in the automotive industry for generations: the arrival of autonomous drive technologies, digital connectivity, and growing the number of zero-emission vehicles.
"In every part of our operations, we are adapting to the impact of growing automation and data management – whether inside our vehicles, in our local dealerships, in our plants and all throughout our supply chain relationships. This forms part of our Nissan Intelligent Mobility strategy, which is harnessing emerging automotive technologies to move people to a better world.
"For many years, Nissan has localised production and continued to invest in our facilities. That will continue as our vehicles and our manufacturing become more sophisticated.
"As we mark the 150millionth vehicle produced by Nissan, we do so as Freemen of the City of Sunderland, following the most generous award from Sunderland City Council earlier this month.
"Reflecting our investment over many years, ‘Made in Sunderland’ will continue to be a stamp of quality and reliability.
"It is a good place to call home."