By Michael Northcott Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Nissan revs up Sunderland plant with £250m injection

Japanese carmaker Nissan has announced ambitious new plans for more 'upmarket' vehicles to be produced in its Sunderland plant, in an investment worth £250m.

Some good pre-Christmas news for people working in Nissan’s Sunderland plant today, as the firm announced that around 1,000 new jobs will be created by its decision to build a new premium car model under the Infiniti brand. 

Only 280 of these jobs will actually open in the plant itself – the others will be created in the supply chain – but the plans represent a £250m investment in the facility and should reassure everyone that the firm plans to stay put for at least the next few years.

Production of the new model will start in 2015, but the extra jobs and the choice of Sunderland for producing the new vehicle are a major vote of confidence in the UK’s resurgent car industry. The model was originally launched in the US as Nissan’s answer to Lexus, but this will be the first time it is seen on Britain’s roads.

It is thought that Nissan wants to produce around 60,000 units of the new model per year for both the domestic market and to be exported around the world. 

Predictably, the PM took the opportunity to put out a sound bite: ‘This announcement shows how the car industry in partnership with the government continues to win important long term investment projects in a tough competitive sector, helping the UK to get ahead in the global race.’ We’re not sure how much of it could have been down to the government however…

There is one downside to the news though: because of capacity limitations at Sunderland, a hatchback which was planned for production there – and which would have created new jobs – will now have to be moved elsewhere. It means the net jobs gain specifically at Sunderland will be just 22 posts. 

Still, it’s better than nothing, and there has been no suggestion that the other posts, which would have been created by the new hatchback, will move overseas. 

So with Nissan’s plans, Honda’s expansion in Swindon, BMW expansion of the Mini range and JLR and Toyota’s new jobs announcements, you could say the British car industry is really ‘motoring’. 

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