Production of a new engine has begun at Nissan's Sunderland plant.
About 60,000 of the two-litre petrol engines will be built each year as part of a £15m investment programme.
The work has safeguarded 130 jobs and, depending on the market, it is hoped that an additional 200 posts will be created by 2013.
The engine will be available as an option on several models including the Qashqai and Qashqai +2, also produced in Sunderland.
Kevin Fitzpatrick, Nissan's UK vice president of manufacturing, said: "Today marks an important new stage in engine production in Sunderland.
"In recent years our employees have focused on improving the overall competitiveness of our engine operation so we are able to bring new business like this to the plant."