Nissan hatches plan for another UK-built car

Nissan is investing $200m (£125m) in building a new hatchback at its Sunderland plant. Sweet timing for David Cameron, who's on a tour of Japan to boost trade links...

Last Updated: 25 Mar 2014
The as-yet-unnamed new model will go into production in 2014, and Nissan says it will spark 225 new jobs at its Sunderland factory and 900 British jobs in the local supply chain. This is on top of the $200m that Nissan plans to spend to build its new Invitation compact vehicle from mid-2013, also at the Wearside plant.

Of course the PM was all over this news like a fly to a windscreen, describing the investment as a ‘huge vote of confidence in the skills and flexibility of the UK workforce’. But it’s not just decent PR for the PM as he goes to neck sake with Japanese opposite number Yoshihiko Noda. With production rolling round-the-clock for the first time and churning out 550,000 vehicles a year, it’s estimated the Sunderland workforce will stand at a record 6,225.

That’s certainly a hefty boost to local job morale. And it's added horse power for the Government too, given it backed Nissan with a £8.2m injection from its regional growth fund. The last thing the PM needs is for public money to go to a Japanese firm that doesn’t reinvest in our workforce. As for Cameron’s Asia trip, it’s probably not a bad idea to reduce Britain's dependence on trade with the eurozone by courting other markets. British officials reckon more than £200m-worth of Japanese investment in Britain will be announced during Cameron's visit, including a Mitsubishi wind turbine research project in Edinburgh and a Panasonic fuel cell research centre in Cardiff.

This should all be music to British engineering ears. Similarly Nissan says its recent record growth in Europe has been built on models that are ‘designed, developed and produced’ within the region. Which is so much better than just being the place that sticks the parts together. So we do have something to offer beyond financial services and the Olympics after all. The investment from Nissan follows similar news of British investments from Toyota and Jaguar Land Rover. Once the German carmakers come over to pick our brains too we’ll really be motoring…

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