Nissan has started production of its new Qashqai crossover in the UK factory in Sunderland, promising to create a further 500 jobs to accommodate the demand.
This move will help increase the total of Nissan’s employees in Sunderland to more than 7,000 for the first time in its history.
Currently the biggest UK-based car manufacturer, Nissan produces its Qashqai, Leaf, Note and Juke models in the Sunderland plant.
"It's great news that the new model Qashqai is rolling off the production line in Sunderland,” said Prime Minister David Cameron. “Nissan supports 40,000 jobs across the UK, and when you add that to the half a billion pound investment that Nissan have made in this country for this new model, it shows how our long-term plan is giving companies the confidence to invest and create jobs in Britain."
A next generation Qashqai rolls off the Sunderland 24-hour production line every 61 seconds, taking turns with the 100 per cent electric Nissan Leaf. Currently Nissan’s best-selling model in Europe, Quasqai is exported to 132 countries around the world.
"The Nissan Qashqai blazed a trail when we started production in 2006,” said Nissan's chief performance officer Trevor Mann. “It invented the Crossover segment, propelled the Nissan brand in Europe to a new level and helped our plant in Sunderland to set new standards in productivity and quality.”
Around 286,000 Qashqai cars were built in Sunderland last year and the company expects to achieve similar numbers in 2014.
"The British car industry is thriving – car exports last year brought in £30bn for our economy – and I welcome Nissan's contribution in delivering this success,” said Business Secretary Vince Cable.