Tyne & Wear

Nissan to produce new hatchback in Sunderland

Nissan's new hatchback is to be produced at its Sunderland plant, the Japanese car giant has announced.

The model, which has not yet been named, could lead to the creation of 225 jobs at the factory and a further 900 in the supply chain by 2014.

The company's £127m investment is being supported by £8.2m from the government's regional growth fund.

It follows the announcement in March that Sunderland will also build the new Invitation model from 2013.

Once production of the two models begins, it is estimated the Sunderland workforce will stand at a record 6,225.

The additional 80,000 hatchback and 100,000 Invitation models will bring the annual output up to more than 550,000 vehicles.

'Tremendous work'

An additional production shift will be implemented allowing both lines to operate around the clock for the first time in the plant's 26-year history.

Nissan chief operating officer Toshiyuki Shiga said: "In Europe, Nissan has achieved record growth in recent years by providing innovative, customer-focused models like Qashqai and Juke that are designed, developed and produced within the region."

Speaking during a visit to Japan, Prime Minister David Cameron said: "I've already seen first hand the tremendous work at the Nissan Sunderland plant and it's great to be visiting the company's headquarters in Yokohama today.

"Nissan's investment in the UK is a huge vote of confidence in the skills and flexibility of the UK workforce."

Paul Watson, leader of Sunderland City Council, described it as "fantastic news" for the area.

He added: "Coming just weeks after the decision to build the Invitation model here, the announcement of an additional £127m investment in the plant is a proud testament to the skills and dedication of the Sunderland workforce."

North East Chamber of Commerce chief executive James Ramsbotham added that the performance levels of the Wearside workforce had convinced "Nissan's senior management that Sunderland is the perfect place to oversee production of this new vehicle".

"This is great news for the UK automotive sector, the region's economy and Nissan's North East supply chain," said Mr Ramsbotham.

He also pointed to the importance of Nissan to the regional economy citing that for every person employed by the company, "another four are supported in Nissan's supply chain and with employment at the plant reaching a record high this is another welcome achievement".

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