Nissan has announced that a fifth model will be built at its car plant in Sunderland.

Speaking at the Paris Motor Show, Nissan Executive Vice President Patrick Pelata said that an as yet unnamed car, based on the ‘Tone’ concept he was unveiling, would be produced on Wearside from January 2006.

He said: "The Tone represents our thinking in the area of the mini MPV market. The niche market where Tone would compete is forecast to grow by a factor of four from 2002 to 2007.

"I am happy to announce that we will introduce a car based on this design at the beginning of 2006. In addition, I am pleased to announce that it will be built at our plant in Sunderland, Europe’s most productive car factory."

Around 1,000 employees will work on the new compact 5-door hatchback, including up to 200 additional posts - although this figure could change depending on market conditions closer to 2006.

The market will also dictate the new model’s production volume, but Nissan Motor Manufacturing (UK) Ltd expects to be building around 100,000 units a year alongside the Micra, Almera, Primera and Micra C+C - due for production launch next September.

A total of £125 M has been invested in the project, with £24 M of that going towards preparation at the plant, and its suppliers, for the start of production.

NMUK Managing Director, Colin Dodge, commented: "I’m delighted that we’ll be producing the new car here in Sunderland. We’ve been working very hard to increase our overall competitiveness for some time now, and it’s very satisfying to see our efforts being rewarded."

Nissan’s operations in Sunderland began in 1984, with the first vehicle, the Nissan Bluebird, coming off the production line in 1986. Since then, the car plant has grown to become the UK’s largest, and has produced over three-and-a-quarter million vehicles to date.

Published : 01/10/04 Author : Melanie Carter

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