North East-based car producer Nissan has unveiled its new-look Qashqai to the rest of world, more than two years after it was first announced.
The Japanese car giant officially launched the new-look Qashqai to an invited audience in London yesterday before it goes into full production at the firm’s Sunderland plant early next year.
The motor giant’s global president, Carlos Ghosn, says that the new Qashqai will be the most important car in the brand’s modern history.
“We knew we could do better and go even further,” he said. “The second generation model is new from the ground up, It is sleeker, larger, lower and roomier.”
He also said the new Qashqai is good news for the North East.
“All the people working at our Sunderland plant are cheering for this model,”said Mr Ghosn.
“Sunderland is the only plant that builds this car for sale in Europe.”
In total vehicle production this year, Nissan predicts it will build 300,000 Qashqais out of 500,000 cars.
It will be selling somewhere in the region of 600,000 vehicles in total in Europe and 240,000 of them so far this year will be Qashqais, so it is about 35 to 40% of Nissan’s business.
The all-British Qashqai – Nissan’s first model to be designed, engineered and built here in the UK – has exceeded all expectations, selling more than two million cars during its six-year lifespan.
The Qashqai is the third new model to go into production at the plant in recent months and will go on sale in February.
The Sunderland factory began building the all-electric Leaf in March and a new version of the Note in September.
And last month, Nissan began work on a new extension to the plant as it gears up for production of the first model for the firm’s luxury Infiniti marque to be built on Wearside.
Production work has also started on the Nissan Note as the Wearside factory goes from strength to strength.
Business minister Michael Fallon was at the factory in September to see how the new Note will be produced at Europe’s most productive car factory.
Nissan’s 6,000-strong workforce starts on the car knowing there are some 14,000 pre-orders already in place.
The upgraded Nissan Note alone is responsible for 2,000 new jobs in the UK automotive industry, including 400 staff at Nissan’s workforce at Sunderland, taking the number of British jobs supported by Nissan to more than 35,000.
In addition to vehicle assembly, the new Note has brought additional work to the North East and the supply chain, with orders for axle production, engine assembly and other parts.
The Conservative MP said: “The investment by Nissan to make the Note at the world class Sunderland plant has been achieved by Government and industry working together. It provides a very welcome boost to their exceptional workforce, the North East economy and the country.”
More than one in three cars built in the UK is now a Nissan, which has been Britain’s biggest car producer since 1998.
However, last week the Japanese carmaker said it expected to make a profit of £2.2bn for the year to March 31 2014, down from an earlier forecast of 420bn. Nissan said tough conditions in Europe and recent recalls had hurt its earnings. It added that demand in emerging markets had been “volatile”. The cut in the forecast came despite the company posting a 6.5% jump in profit for the July-to-September quarter, from a year earlier.