Nissan's North East plant has become the first site in UK history to produce more than 1,000,000 cars in just two years.
Car makers on Wearside reached the mammoth milestone thanks to increasing demand for their cross-over vehicle, the Quashqai.
Last night MPs, business leaders and one of Nissan’s most senior executives paid tribute to the company’s contribution to the region’s economy and the huge achievements the plant had secured.
Wearside MP Sharon Hodgson said: “This is a fantastic landmark for Nissan in the North East, and another sign of how effective the local workforce is at Nissan and across the supply chain.
“Every car that rolls off the line is another contribution to jobs and prosperity in my constituency and across the North East, so the next big milestone can’t come soon enough.”
Annual production figures of 501,756 follow a year in which Prime Minster David Cameron visited the plant to mark the launch of the Nissan Leaf, and work began on a plant extension to enable production of the Infiniti Q30 from 2015.
Kevin Fitzpatrick, Nissan’s Vice President for Manufacturing in the UK, said: “Building over a million cars in two years is a further sign of Nissan’s growing brand presence in one of the most competitive markets in Europe.
“Exceeding output of 500,000 units for a second year is an even greater achievement given we combined this high volume whilst also starting production of the all-electric Nissan Leaf at the plant, along with the launch of the new Note, and replacing the most popular car we have ever made with the new generation Qashqai.”
In 2013, more than 286,000 of the cars built in Sunderland last year were Nissan Qashqais, now in its eighth year of production. Total Qashqai production in the UK now stands at 1,752,232 since 2006.
Monthly production broke the 50,000 barrier in October for the first time in Nissan’s 27-year history of manufacturing in the UK, with eight different model variants built across the calendar year.
The year ended with the unveiling of the new generation Qashqai, the embodiment of Nissan’s innovation and excitement and the key driver in the company’s goal of becoming the top-selling Asian brand in Europe.
North East Chamber of Commerce chief executive James Ramsbotham said: “Nissan is a vital part of the North East economy and a key driver for our exceptional export figures.
“It isn’t just that it employs over 6,000 people it also supports four supply chain jobs for every person working at the plant.
“It regularly sets new productivity records and only last October smashed its monthly production record, making 52,407 vehicles – the first time more than 50,000 units have been made in any calendar month.
“However, to build over a million cars in two years is incredibly and yet another feather in the cap of a remarkable regional success story.”
Last year Nissan chiefs revealed the new electric vehicle Leaf would support 2,000 jobs in the supply chain, with more than 1,500 of those based in the North East.
And in December 2012 they revealed more than 1,000 jobs would be created as the Japanese car-maker pumped millions into manufacturing the Infiniti car that will be made from 2015 and shipped across Europe and Britain.
It was the first time in 23 years that a new car brand has been produced on such a scale in this country, and will spark the creation of 280 jobs at Nissan’s Washington factory.