Happy birthday Sunderland! Nissan plant turns 25

Posted on 8 Sep 2011 by The Manufacturer

Nissan's Sunderland Plant is today marking the 25th anniversary of its official opening on September 8, 1986, with a special ceremony and many reasons to celebrate.

Lady Thatcher, then Prime Minister, who was credited with helping to bring Nissan to the UK, performed the opening ceremony in 1986.

In the 25 years since, Nissan Sunderland Plant has broken several records in UK car production, with volumes increasing from just over 5,000 cars in 1986 to over 423,000 in 2010. It was the first time a UK car plant had made more than 400,000 vehicles in one year.

Nissan has since manufactured more than 6 million vehicles and 12 different models at Sunderland, including the Primera, Micra, Almera and Juke.

Carlos Ghosn, chairman and chief executive officer of Nissan Motor Company said: “As the UK’s largest car plant, biggest car exporter, and soon battery plant – with battery production for the Nissan LEAF planned for next year – Sunderland is a beacon of Nissan’s exemplary leadership in manufacture, management and technology.”

Prime Minister David Cameron also commented: “With the design, development and manufacture of their new generation Qashqai all taking place in the UK, Nissan has restated its confidence in the skills of its British workforce and in the UK’s manufacturing sector.”

Of the 430 people employed at the plant in September 1986, only 133 remain. Today’s ceremony will be performed by two of those original employees: senior vice president for manufacturing in Europe, Trevor Mann; and vice president for manufacturing in the UK, Kevin Fitzpatrick.

On its 25th anniversary, Nissan is celebrating a record year for production, with staff producing their six millionth car in January. In June, Nissan’s chief executive Carlos Ghosn visited the UK to announce that the next generation of the Nissan Qashqai would be designed, engineered and manufactured in the UK.