Nissan’s Sunderland plant has reached a landmark this week – producing its 10 millionth vehicle over the course of 33 years.
The factory has become the first UK car plant to hit the monumental figure, which means an average of one new car has rolled off the North East production line every two minutes since 1986.
But while the Japanese firm celebrates the achievement, the future remains uncertain for employees at the factory in the face of Brexit and the company’s decision to pull production of the X-Trail from the UK facility earlier this year.
The 10m landmark: Nissan’s Sunderland plant has become the first UK car facility to produce 10 million vehicles, but uncertainty over the factory’s future rattles on
Of all the models produced at the factory, it’s the Qashqai SUV that has been churned out in the highest numbers.
Some 3.4million examples of the SUV have been made in Sunderland since 2006 and the model remains the most popular 4X4 among UK buyers.
The Micra, Primera and Juke have also surpassed one million units at the facility, with the latter still built at the home of Nissan UK.
The car maker claims if all ten million cars were parked nose to tail they would stretch for more than 26,000 miles – which is enough to go all the way around the equator, with a few cars to spare.
The 10 millionth model produced was a Qashqai SUV finished in Vivid Blue
The Qashqai has been built at the factory since 2016 and has the highest output of 3.4m units
Steve Marsh, Nissan Sunderland Plant vice president, said: ‘Building ten million vehicles is a tremendous achievement for everyone associated with the plant.
The 10 million Nissans built in Sunderland
1. Qashqai (2006 – present): 3,416,472
2. Micra (1992 – 2010): 2,368,704
3. Primera (1990 – 2007): 1,483,059
4. Juke (2010 – present): 1,053,178
5. Almera (2000 – 2006): 642,420
6. Note (2006 – 2016): 676,438
7. LEAF (2010 – present): 141,517
8. Bluebird (1986 – 1990): 187,178
9. Infiniti Q30 (2015 – 2019): 76,166
‘Reaching this huge figure has called on all the ingenuity, commitment and spirit of our highly skilled workforce, many of who hail from the North East of England.
‘Together we are determined to continue to drive up the high quality standards our customers have come to expect over the last three decades.’
In total, nine different models have been produced there, including the electric Leaf that continues to roll off assembly lines today.
However, one vehicle that won’t be made at the Sunderland facility is the upcoming X-Trail, following a high-profile U-turn by the car maker earlier this year.
The large family SUV had been confirmed for production in the UK, however concerns regarding Brexit lead to the company having a change of heart and confirmed in February that the 4×4 would instead be built in Japan.
That’s despite claims of promises made by the Government in 2016 to offer up to £80million of support and Brexit-related assurances to help secure a major investment from the car maker, according to reports.
Over 2 million Micras were produced at the Sunderland factory between 1992 and 2010
The third highest output was the Primera, assembled at the factory between 1990 and 2007
The compact Juke is still built at the Sunderland facility and has surpassed 1 million units
The choice to switch production of the X-Trail to Japan was another huge blow to the UK’s car industry, which is already under the cosh caused by a downturn in demand for diesel cars.
The decision has caused uncertainty regarding jobs, with 7,000 staff employed at the factory.
Nissan chairman Gianluca de Ficchy said in a letter sent to Sunderland workers that much had changed since the Japanese firm announced plans to build a new Qashqai and X-Trail in the UK in October 2016.
There have been ongoing concerns about the future of the 7,000 jobs at the facility
Bosses decision to do a u-turn on production of the next-generation X-Trail in Sunderland was partially blamed on Brexit
‘Since that time, as you know, the environment for the car industry in Europe has changed dramatically,’ the letter sent in February said.
‘To meet the changing emissions regulations we’ve had to invest much more in new powertrains for our future models like X-Trail. At the same time, the volume forecasts for X-Trail in Europe have reduced.
‘For those reasons the company has decided to optimise our investments and concentrate production in Kyushu, instead of adding another production site.
‘For the European business, this does not change the fact that X-Trail is – and will continue to be – a crucial model for us.
‘Today’s announcement will be interpreted by a lot of people as a decision related to Brexit.
‘We have taken this decision for the business reasons I’ve explained, but clearly the uncertainty around the UK’s future relationship with the EU is not helping companies like ours to plan for the future.’
On average, a Nissan vehicle has rolled off the production line in Sunderland every 2 minutes since 1986
Sunderland is home to the electric Leaf, which is still produced at the facility
Britain promised Nissan up to £80 million of support and offered Brexit-related assurances to help secure a major investment from the Japanese carmaker in 2016, according to reports
Nissan looks set to miss out on it’s full-year profit goal and – for the first time in a decade – earn less than its sister brand, Renault.
The Japanese car maker has struggled to reignite showroom activity due to a drop in sales of diesel models, but has also been hammered by the arrest of its former chairman Carlos Ghosn.
The ex-boss was originally arrested in November for understating his pay and has since been re-arrested in Japan over suspicions he caused Nissan $5million (£3.8million) in losses.
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