Britain’s manufacturing sector was handed a boost on Wednesday as the country’s largest car manufacturer started production of its flagship car in Sunderland.
The production of the second version of the Nissan Qashqai has led to the creation of more than 500 jobs at the Sunderland plant. It takes the total number of employees there to an all-time high of more than 7,000 and makes Nissan the largest car manufacturer in the UK.
At the launch of production, Nissan’s chief performance officer Trevor Mann said the Qashqai was the “backbone of the success” at the Sunderland plant. “This car that is manufactured in Sunderland is the face of the brand,” he said, .
He said it had propelled the Nissan brand to new level in Europe and led the Sunderland plant to set “new standards in productivity and quality”.
The Nissan Qashqai started rolling off the production line on Wednesday morning at the rate of one every 61 seconds, with 300,000 expected to be produced each year. The Qashqai accounts for more than half of all the cars produced at the Sunderland plant, which last year produced more than half a million cars for the second year running.
The car was designed, engineered and manufactured in the UK. Mr Mann said he had “fought hard” to secure the UK’s role in its production before the first Qashqai in 2006 and again before the production of the latest model. “This will help us realise our goal of being the number one Asian brand in Europe,” he said.
In total, the production of the two Qashqai models has led to Nissan investing £534m in the UK economy.
Vince Cable, the Business Secretary, welcomed Nissan’s contribution to the British car industry, which he said was “thriving”, with car exports last year bringing in £30bn for the economy.
“We want to build on this. That is why we are working together with business to give companies like Nissan the confidence to invest, delivering skilled jobs, driving growth and building a stronger economy,” he said.
Car production in the UK has boosted the manufacturing sector, with several car manufacturers, including Nissan and Jaguar Land Rover, announcing they were increasing the number of cars they were making in Britain, which has also led to job creation.
Investment of £6bn over the past two years has helped to propel Britain to the top of the European motor league, boosting production and sales, creating more than 30,000 new direct and indirect jobs and reinforcing the industry’s “premium brand” position in the global marketplace.