Japanese carmaker Nissan Motor Co said Tuesday it will build a new hatchback at its UK plant from 2014 – creating more than 1,000 jobs.
It follows an announcement last month that the North East plant will also produce a compact car based on a concept model – named the Invitation – from next year.
The company is investing 127 million pounds ($202 million) in the expansion.
It said the decision to make the hatchback at Sunderland confirms its return to the medium-sized car market in Europe.
Speaking to BBC’s Breakfast programme, Kevin Fitzpatrick, Nissan’s vice-president for manufacturing in the UK, said: “It’s over 1,000 jobs so it is significant for the region.
“We’ve just announced the fourth new model to be launched between now and 2014. This will put the plant on a 24-hour running so it does secure a lot of jobs. It’s a big vote from the parent company.”
Once recruitment is complete, a record 6,225 workers will be employed at the plant, manufacturing more than half a million vehicles a year, including the Qashqai, Juke and all-electric Leaf models.
Production capacity for the new model will be around 80,000 units triggering the need for Sunderland Plant to implement an additional shift. This will see both production lines operating ‘around the clock’ for the first time in the plant’s 26-year history, a move which will take manufacturing capacity beyond 550,000 units.
Nissan built the Sunderland plant in 1984 and production began in 1986, with total investment set to reach £3.5 billion.
More than 6.5 million cars have been built at the factory, with 80% of production exported to 97 world markets.