Carmaker Nissan will ship a new model from Sunderland to Japan for the first time in more than a decade today.
The Wearside plant, which has more than 4,300 workers, has already made more than 20,000 of its new Qashqai cars - a cross between a hatchback and a sports utility vehicle - since they started production in December.
The Qashqai is exclusively made in Sunderland and around 80% will be exported, mostly to Europe. And now it is being exported back to its creator's home country, where it will be sold as the Dualis. The last Sunderland-built car to be exported to Japan was the 1996 model Primera. Neil Calvert, who works on the production line said: "When our plant began building cars in 1986, we were assembling Bluebirds sent from Japan in kit form. So, sending one of our cars back there shows how far we've come."
It is Sunderland's tenth new model since 1986, and represents an investment of £223m and takes total investment in the factory to over £2.3bn.
Nissan vice president manufacturing UK Trevor Mann said: "We export our cars to more than 45 countries around the world, but there is definitely something special about shipping to Japan. Our workforce has produced an excellent car, and one which I know will appeal strongly to the Japanese motorist."