Nissan smashes UK output record at Sunderland plant

Nissan’s Sunderland plant has set a new record for output from any single UK car plant producing 480,485 vehicles in 2011.

Nissan’s new record represents a 14% increase on the company’s achievements in 2010 and has largely been attributed to the success of the Qashqai models – the ninth best-selling car in 2011 according to SMMT.

The plant also makes the Juke and Note models and is due to manufacture the all-electric Leaf from 2013.

The news of Nissan’s record breaking output figures comes just one day after Trevor Mann, senior vice president for manufacturing at Nissan, was awarded a CBE in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours List. Mr Mann began his career with Nissan at the Sunderland Pant where he joined as facilities team leader in 1985.

The impressive output of the Sunderland plant comes on the back of a challenging year for car manufacturing, particularly Japanese car makers. According to Nissan’s vice president for production in the UK, Kevin Fitzpatrick however, the company managed to limit disruption from the Japanese earthquake and tsunami by extending the Easter holidays, shortening the Christmas break and cancelling some overtime work during 2011.

Mr Fitzpatrick claims the plant is now operating at levels predicted before the Japanese disaster last March.

The Sunderland plant has two production lines, one of which makes the Qashqai on three shifts, running 24 hours a day, five days a week with occasional weekend shifts. The plant employs 5,462 staff.

High demand for the Qashqai has spurred a leaning of inventory at Sunderland. Mr Fitzpatrick was keen to emphasize that the high production figures are not resulting in a glut of idle product. “There is less inventory waiting between the factory gate and dealers than there would normally be. We certainly don’t have fields of unsold cars,” he said.