Nissan's Sunderland plant has started production of an all-new engine that could create 200 new jobs over the next three years.
The contract to assemble the 2.0 litre petrol unit – codenamed MR, was secured in July 2009. It followed approval for the first £2 million of a proposed £15 million investment package to upgrade Sunderland’s engine operation through to 2014.
This package has been supported by a £1.94 million grant from regional development agency One North East.
Around 60,000 MR engines will be produced in Sunderland each year, immediately safeguarding 130 jobs and creating up to 200 additional posts by 2013 depending on the market.
The engine, which is compliant with Euro 5 and 6 emissions regulations, will be available as an option on several models including the Qashqai and Qashqai +2, which are also produced in Sunderland.
Kevin Fitzpatrick, Nissan’s Vice President of Manufacturing in the UK, said: “Today marks an important new stage in engine production in Sunderland. In recent years our employees have focussed on improving the overall competitiveness of our engine operation so we are able to bring new business like this to the plant.
“The involvement of One North East has also been vital to the success of this project and I would like to thank them for their ongoing support. Winning the MR engine is good news in terms of jobs, both here and amongst our suppliers, and it also puts our plant in a strong position to bid for future engine derivatives.”