Nissan, which has never manufactured its luxury line of cars in Europe, is poised to start rolling out its Inifiniti series at its Sunderland plant. The move adds hundreds of jobs, marking a milestone for manufacturing in this country.
The Sunderland plan is part of the company's £250m (€355m,$375.7m) investment announced in December 2012. Colin Dodge, executive vice president of Nissan had at that time said, "We are going to build an Infiniti compact premium car in the UK for the first time. This is the first time we've had a car which is suitable for Europe and that we're producing in Europe."
Nissan will start by manufacturing its luxury hatchback, the Infiniti Q30. It is expected to make about 60,000 of these cars here every year, boosting the area's skills base and workforce. The car competes with the Mercedes GLA, BMW 1 Series and Audi A3.
As Nissan begins production of this hatchback, the company is expected to say it has created a few hundred positions to ramp up activity and to increase production lines, taking its total headcount at Sunderland to 6700. While about 4000 workers have been retrained to build this hatchback, the local area has seen additional job creation of about 1,000 among Nissan suppliers.
Trevor Mann, Nissan's chief performance officer, told the Telegraph: "Our ambitions underline the competitiveness of Britain as a manufacturing hub and a bridgehead to European markets... Our UK operations are playing an increasingly critical role in Nissan's global operations."
In September, Nissan invested £100m in the Sunderland plant to produce its Juke model. The Japanese carmaker has invested a total of about £3bn at this site since 1984.
The moves have been as a vote of confidence in the north-eastern factory, which has not only become one of UK's biggest manufacturing success stories but has also become the most productive car manufacturer in the continent. On an average, one Sunderland worker builds 118 cars a year.
Nissan has several other manufacturing plants across Europe including one in Barcelona and underutilised facilities around France owned by its partner company, Renault. The Sunderland plant is believed to have fought off competing claims from others, purportedly because of a power struggle between the Japanese carmaker and the French government, Renault's largest shareholder. The rift is believed to have intensified in recent times over decision-making and boardroom control.