Nissan boss brands production of the third generation Qashqai model as a ‘vote of confidence’ in the Sunderland plant
Nissan has revealed that production is now underway at the Sunderland plant on the third generation model of the Qashqai – with latest version of the crossover rolling off the plant’s production Line One.
It marks a £400m investment in the Washington site including a £52m second extra-large press line and scrap recycling system, called the Cyclone, which allows Qashqai to become the plant’s first model built largely from aluminium.
Other new facility investments include 117 new robots for the plant’s body shop, working with both aluminium and the new ultra-high tensile steel that helps gives Qashqai its best-in-class safety performance.
Since the launch of the original model in 2007, the Nissan Qashqai has broken record after record, becoming the fastest UK car to reach one million, two million and three million units built – with over three million being produced in Sunderland.
Alan Johnson, the vice president for Nissan motor manufacturing UK, highlighted how reassuring it is that the car is to the North East after an uncertain time due to Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic.
He said: "Clearly it’s a massive vote of confidence, it’s a £400million investment and is securing 6,000 jobs here at the plant and it is a continuation of a very successful product for us.
"It’s the third generation, the first two we produced three and a half million which is an absolutely massive figure and of course, we’re hoping for the same success or better with this new model.
"I’m sure it is reassuring for everybody, Qashqai has become part of the region, it’s a very important product and we are in production, we’ve been through some challenges but we have a team who are used to dealing with challenges.
"We’re here, production has started and it can only be good news for the region.”
Lee Watson is a senior supervisor at the Sunderland plant, he echoed the importance of the latest model on the future of the plant.
He added: “Getting to produce the next model is a massive boost for us and very important for the future of the plant.
"I think it shows a lot of trust from Japan in us as a plant and it is very reassuring that they still have faith in everyone here.
"At the end of the day, the Qashqai for is just as recognisable for Sunderland as Penshaw Monument.”
Claire Curtis, the manufacturing strategy planning office manager, has been able to drive the new model for a short time and branded it as a “true family car”.
She commented: “It’s just amazing, I took it home and my three boys, who are Nissan mad, absolutely loved it – the technology inside of it is just incredible.
"The new styling looks great, I think that it needed to happen and it was ready for a change. When you’re driving it, you can see people looking and taking an interest.”