Sunderland’s Nissan plant smashes 500,000 mark again

A Qashqai on the production line at Nissan's Sunderland plant
A Qashqai on the production line at Nissan's Sunderland plant

Nissan built more than half a million cars at its Sunderland plant last year, the firm has announced.

The Wearside factory built 507,430 vehicles in 2016, the second-highest total in its history.

Kevin Fitzpatrick

Kevin Fitzpatrick

Highlights included record volumes of the all-electric Leaf and the second generation Qashqai, the best-selling British made car, now made on both production lines.

The factory’s performance in its 30th anniversary year in the UK in 2016, with output of more than 500,000 vehicles, cemented its position as the largest British car plant in history.

Plant boss Kevin Fitzpatrick said: “Since the birth of our factory three decades ago, North East England has become one of the major international automotive centres.

“Britain is now home to Nissan’s best-selling and most technologically-advanced models in Europe, covering our market-leading crossover range, the world’s best-selling electric vehicle and two premium models for global export. This has been achieved through hard work, innovative thinking, ingenuity and strong partnerships with forward-thinking local companies.

Congratulations to all of my colleagues in Sunderland and across the UK on another great year.

Kevin Fitzpatrick

“With future models secured and new facilities in development, congratulations to all of my colleagues in Sunderland and across the UK on another great year.”

And 2017 is set to be another big year for Nissan in Sunderland.

Total volume at the plant is now approaching 9m since the first car rolled off the line in 1986. Other milestones on the horizon include the launch of a refreshed Qashqai, and the introduction of Autonomous Drive technology.

Following the start of production of the Infiniti Q30 in late 2015, a second Infiniti model, the QX30, went into production for global markets in 2016 – which also represented the first time vehicles have been exported from Sunderland to the USA and China.

Other highlights in 2016 included the installation of 19,000 new solar panels alongside the plant’s existing 10 wind turbines, taking the contribution of renewables to 7% of total electricity requirements.

This year is set to be a big one, too, with new facilities under development including a £37million Extra Large Press line, due to start production in the coming weeks, £22million Qashqai capacity expansion and £26.5million in manufacturing a future generation of electric vehicle batteries in the UK.

In addition to the company’s £3billion annual injection into the British economy through suppliers, services and wages, the £650million ongoing investment in new facilities and future models will take the total capital investment by Nissan in the plant since it opened to beyond £4billion.

The car giant’s UK operation now employs more than 8,000 people directly, with a further 28,000 jobs in Nissan’s UK supply chain and 4,000 in its UK dealer network, taking the total British jobs supported by the firm to more than 40,000.