Mapped: Nissan's supply chain and its huge impact on the North East economy

Nissan's huge car plant in Sunderland is the UK's largest - and its supply chain is a huge economic driver for the region

The Nissan plant in Sunderland
The Nissan plant in Sunderland

The figures speak for themselves.

No one need look further than Nissan’s behemoth car plant in Sunderland – the UK’s largest – when searching for a key driver of the region’s exceptional export figures.

Ever since the Japanese company selected Sunderland to play host to its European base in 1986 the manufacturer has developed state-of-the-art facilities, broken production records and attracted a lengthy supply chain of component manufacturers supporting jobs for more than 10,000 people, 7,300 of whom are employed by NMUK in the city.

That’s a significant chunk of the 15,000 people employed in Sunderland’s automotive sector, according to Make It Sunderland’s most recent Automotive Report, with a further 13,000 in supply chain companies across the region.

The plant now produces more cars than Fiat’s four plants in Italy, exporting to 92 overseas markets.

Mapped: Nissan's supply chain - click on a point to find out more about each site


Earlier this year industry leaders, MPs and senior executives paid tribute to the phenomenal work at Nissan when it became the first site in UK history to produce more than 1,000,000 cars in just two years.

And it’s a vast team effort. Behind each vehicle plant lies a complex and international supplier network.

The decline in UK component production in the past two decades means Nissan import a significant proportion of the components they require, but willingness from vehicle companies to increase UK sourcing means the list of North East firms feeding into the plant is increasing.

Today, the supply chain includes a whole raft of North East companies, some of whom are based on site, many more which clustered around the facility when it was constructed, and even more in surrounding areas whose businesses are rapidly expanding to meet Nissan contracts.

Mick Thompson, office senior partner at KPMG in Newcastle, said: “Nissan’s Sunderland facility is at the forefront of the UK’s automotive industry and is a key driver behind tens of thousands of engineering and manufacturing jobs, not only in the North East, but throughout the country as a whole.

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“Our research shows that the supply chain from this plant spans hundreds of separate companies in 24 different countries. Furthermore, 70% of all Nissan cars sold in Europe originate from Sunderland. This is something the region can quite rightly be proud of.

“The future of the UK automotive supply chain looks bright. We are seeing an upsurge in interest from potential investors, including private equity and overseas companies. Given the success of the Sunderland plant and the technical skills that exist locally, the North East is well positioned to benefit from this trend.”

Councillor Paul Watson, leader of Sunderland City Council, said: “Nissan is an international manufacturing giant that is important to the region in so many ways.

“When Nissan officially opened in 1986, it showed that it had a commitment to Sunderland and the North East region and that has never wavered.

“We can all be very proud of how Nissan has put us at the heart of European automotive manufacturing.

“We should never underestimate the significance of having Nissan here.

“This company is an ambassador for the region and it shows, across the world, how we are always open for business and open to business. Nissan itself refers to the output from the Sunderland plant as ‘remarkable’.

“This is a company that started with just over 400 employees and now has more than 6,000, a company that continues to impress us all and continues to grow and push the boundaries of technology, design, research and development.

“We are now one of the UK’s leading automotive regions, and the chosen location for international automotive manufacturing, production, components, engineering and logistics companies.

“Since Nissan opened its plant in 1986 more than 12,000 automotive sector jobs have been created in Sunderland alone. We now have the UK’s biggest carmaker and a company that is a technological trailblazer for the future - all in our region.

“These many strengths and accomplishments are what we will be building on as we develop a new International Advanced Manufacturing Park as part of the Sunderland and South Tyneside City Deal

This development is to attract nearly £300m of inward investment, create more than 5,000 jobs and cement this region’s reputation as a centre for manufacturing excellence.”


David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer