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400 jobs at Nissan and 1,600 more in the supply chain - now that's the kind of Invitation we like; NISSAN BOOST Deal will allow site to reach new heights.

Byline: Dan Warburton

ACASH injection of more than pounds 125m will create an estimated 2,000 jobs in the North East and boost Nissan's Wearside plant, it was announced today. Company bosses revealed plans to build the car company's latest model - the Invitation - at the Washington site and said they would be recruiting 400 new workers to deal with the contract.

The deal will see Nissan have its highest ever workforce at Washington and is expected to create a further 1,600 posts in the company's supply chain.

More than pounds 9.3m from the Government's Regional Growth Fund has been invested in the scheme.

The announcment marks a massive turnaround by Nissan bosses just three years after workers were told that more than 1,200 jobs would be axed at the site as the recession bit.

Last night Business Secretary Vince Cable described the news as a "clear vote of confidence" in the UK's manufacturing industry. He said: "It is fantastic news that Nissan will be building the new model in Sunderland.

"The investment is a boost for jobs at Nissan's plant as well as the wider supply chain.

"This latest announcement highlights the UK's track record of attracting inward investment. Global vehicle manufacturers are beating a path to the UK's door. "They recognise that the Government values the automotive sector. Nissan was able to push on with developing this latest project thanks to the RGF offer."

The petrol-fuelled Invitation is scheduled to be unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show in Switzerland today.

It is anticipated the new model - which may have a different name by the time it goes on sale - will have an initial annual volume of around 100,000.

Assembly of the vehicle will take place at the Washington site which last year celebrated its 25th anniversary of production for the Japanese manufacturing giant.

Workers there will also carry out axle production, cylinder head casting, camshaft machining and engine assembly. Workforce numbers will swell to 6,000, the highest that the site has ever employed.

Trevor Mann, Nissan's senior vice president for manufacturing in Europe, said: "This plant has a 20-year heritage in producing successful compact cars stretching back to the first Micra rolling off the line in 1992.

"I'm delighted that Sunderland has secured what will be another very important model for Nissan in Europe. "It is a testament to the workforce, the ongoing support from the UK Government and all of our regional partners and suppliers.

"The additional volume will maintain Sunderland as the country's largest car plant and we expect and look forward to a very busy future."

Nissan's latest announcement comes just months after it revealed it was cre-ating 200 new jobs in the North East as it responds to continuing demand for its Qashqai, the introduction of an electric vehicle and the opening of a new battery plant.

Last night Andrew Sugden, director of membership and policy at the North East Chamber of Commerce, said the news was a "major coup" for North East industries.

He said: "Nissan is one of the North East's blue chip companies.

"For a quarter of a century it has established a reputation for excellence and continuous improvement, regularly smashing its own production records.

"The unparalleled level of performance from the Wearside workforce can only ? have served to convince Nissan's senior management that Sunderland is the perfect place to oversee production of this new vehicle.

"The importance of Nissan to the regional economy cannot be underestimated.

"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."

In 2011, the workforce at the Sunderland site set a new record when more than 480,000 units rolled off the production lines.

Coun Paul Watson, leader of Sunderland City Council, said: "We've just marked Nissan's 25th year of production in 2011 and here we are with another major announcement from this international manufacturing plant.

"With the Invitation model, hundreds of new jobs and hundreds of millions of pounds invested in its production facilities, here's further proof and confidence how Sunderland is not just a British automotive centre but at the heart of European and world manufacturing."

Nissan is one of several businesses in the automotive sector to receive conditional offers from the pounds 2.4bn Growth Fund, which aims to support projects that will create jobs in areas of England dependent on the public sector and which are supported by private investment.

Unipres UK, a Sunderland-based business, supplies parts to Nissan and recently had confirmation it would receive pounds 5m from the fund towards a pounds 36m project which will create and protect 236 jobs.

Vantec Europe Limited also works with Nissan and its bid to the RGF is currently going through due diligence.

Vantec currently manages nearly all of Nissan's warehousing requirements and has asked for support through the fund to allow it to expand capacity in order to accommodate Nissan's new model.

Comment 22 SWISS ROLE FOR THE NEW KID ON THE BLOCK NISSAN'S latest model will be unveiled today at the prestigious Geneva Motor Show.

Described as a "head-turning hatchback", the Invitation will go on the market alongside the Micra city car and will be officially displayed by Nissan's executive vice president, Andy Palmer.

Included in the design is Around View Monitor (AVM) safety technology which makes reversing and parallel parking "as stress-free as possible".

It also incorporates the Nissan Safety Shield Technologies, which interacts with the driving environment keeping the driver aware of what is happening around the car.

Franois Bancon, deputy division general manager of product strategy and product planning division, said: The name we have given to this concept is self-explanatory. "It is designed to be inviting thanks to its sensuous exterior design, and generous and comfortable interior space, cleverly packaged within compact overall dimensions.

The vehicle will be built alongside the highly successful Juke crossover and will compete within the subcompact range.

THE FIGURES JUST GET MORE IMPRESSIVE TODAY'S announcement is the latest in a long line of success stories for Nissan in its 25 years at Washington. In 1992 the total investment in the company reached pounds 900m, the largest single Japanese investment anywhere in Europe at that time.

The plant's one millionth car was produced just three years later.

In 2003 the World Markets Research Centre identified Washington as the most productive plant in Europe for the seventh consecutive year.

In 2010 the plant became the first in the UK to produce more than 400,000 vehicles in one year.

Last year it was identified as the biggest UK car plant for the 11th year in a row.

The plant also produced its six millionth car in 2011.

See video of the new Nissan car and photos from the factory down the years at: www.journallive.co.uk

CAPTION(S):

SUCCESS STORY Another Qashqai progresses along the production line at Washington. Nissan's latest announcement comes just months after it revealed it was creating 200 new jobs in the North East as it responds to continuing demand for its Qashqai DELIGHTED Trevor Mann, Nissan's senior vice president for manufacturing in Europe, paid tribute to the Washington plant's workforce
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Mar 6, 2012
Words:1207
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