October 10, 2019 @ 12:19 by Steven Hugill
Car maker Nissan has started work on a next generation model following a £100 million investment at its Sunderland plant.
The manufacturer says production is now underway on its new Juke hatchback.
The work means the model will continue rolling off the company’s Wearside production lines, having previously been made in a different guise alongside Nissan’s flagship Qashqai and all-electric Leaf marques.
Confirmation of production’s official start came after it was revealed Nissan is ending night shift work at Sunderland.
The company says the change, which will not affect jobs and will see staff moved to different shift patterns, is necessary to support the new Juke’s production schedule.
Bosses say 70 per cent of production on the new model, which has been designed, engineered and manufactured in the UK and will only be made at Sunderland, will be for the EU market.
Visiting the business’ Wearside factory to oversee the final stages of preparation for the new Juke’s launch, Gianluca de Ficchy, Nissan’s Europe chairman, hailed the work that has gone into producing the model, which is expected to go on sale in late November.
He also highlighted the company’s reliance on the plant amid ongoing Brexit speculation about its long-term future.
He said: “The new Juke represents a further £100 million investment in our Sunderland plant and is designed, engineered and manufactured in the UK for European customers.
“Thirty-five years ago, Nissan decided to create a plant in the UK to serve our European markets.
“Ten million vehicles later, Sunderland is the biggest UK car plant in history and the all-new Juke is the most connected Nissan car.
“With more than 35,000 jobs supported by Nissan in the UK, I would like to thank our experienced and skilled teams in Paddington, Cranfield and Sunderland, and our wider supply base, for their efforts in bringing this all-new model to life.”
He added the company has delivered more than 5000 hours of training to staff to support work on the Juke’s launch and revealed its Wearside factory has received upgrades to deliver the new model’s suite of advanced technology and high levels of interior and exterior personalisation.
The additions include nearly 30 new die sets, which cut and mould ultra-high-tensile steel and have been installed in the press shop. Four new spray booths have also been built.
Steve Marsh, Nissan’s vice president for manufacturing in the UK, said: “We are thrilled to see the Juke in production and our million Juke fans across Europe will be able to see it on the roads very soon.
“Juke is a big part of our plant’s heritage, so it is a proud moment to see the new model rolling off the line.
“Our design and engineering teams have done a fantastic job and our skilled manufacturing team will now deliver the car to the high-quality levels that our customers have come to expect.”
Nissan’s Sunderland plant has made more than ten million vehicles since production began with the first Bluebird in 1986.
The landmark figure was hit when a Qashqai rolled off its lines.
According to company figures, workers at the factory have made nearly 3.5 million Qashqais since production started in 2006, with 2.4 million Micras made between 1992 and 2010.
Staff have also so far made more than one million Juke models and in excess of 140,500 Leafs.