The latest exhibit on show at SMMT’s Westminster exhibition space is a celebration of Nissan’s manufacturing presence in the UK. The Sunderland Plant’s 25th anniversary was marked last year with a string of new UK car industry records. 480,485 vehicles rolled off the production line in 2011, the most ever produced by a car plant in the UK, while the number of jobs there also reached an all-time high, with 5,462 people directly employed on site.
Opened officially in 1986 by former Prime Minister, Lady Thatcher, in a ceremony which involved painting the second eye on a traditional Japanese ‘daruma’ doll, the plant has since manufactured more than 6.4 million vehicles and 12 different models, including Bluebird, Primera, Micra, Almera, Note, Qashqai and Juke. The plant exports 80% of production to 97 markets worldwide.
Speaking at the anniversary ceremony, Carlos Ghosn, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Nissan Motor Co., said, “As the UK’s largest car plant, biggest car exporter, and soon battery plant - with battery production for the Nissan LEAF planned for next year – Sunderland is a beacon of Nissan’s exemplary leadership in manufacture, management and technology, which define a global car company in the 21st century.”
Staff are now gearing up for production starting at the company’s new lithium-ion battery plant in the New Year, ahead of Nissan LEAF production beginning at Sunderland in 2013. Nissan presence in the UK extends beyond Sunderland: the European Design Centre is located in Paddington, London and employs around 50 people, while 500 additional staff are based at Nissan’s European Technical Centre in Cranfield, Bedfordshire.
In June 2011, Carlos Ghosn announced that Nissan workers in the UK will design, engineer and build the next version of the company’s Qashqai model. Production of the new model will take Nissan’s total investment in its UK manufacturing base to £3.3 billion.
In March 2012, the company announced production of an all-new model, the Nissan INVITATION, creating around 2,000 new jobs at the plant and within its UK supplier base. This was followed in April by Nissan confirming production of a second all-new hatchback model at its Sunderland facility from 2014.
Find out about other high-profile announcements from UK automotive companies regarding investment, expansion, new models and employment.
Click through the slideshow below to see all the photos from SMMT’s exhibition space.