Nissan’s Sunderland plant, in partnership with regional development agency One North East, has won a contract to assemble a new petrol engine from next year, securing future engine production on Wearside.
The assembly of the two-litre engine, codenamed ‘MR’, will safeguard up to 130 jobs, with the expectation that an additional 200 posts will be created by 2013 depending on market conditions.
The contract has been secured through a £1.94m grant from One North East, supporting a £12.92m investment by Nissan over the next four years to upgrade and install facilities, allowing around 65,000 engines to be produced annually from May 2010.
The announcement is part of Nissan’s initiative to localise production close to, or within, target markets. This minimises logistics costs and reduces exposure to exchange rates as well as allowing the company to react more quickly to customer demand.
It follows last week’s announcement that the Nissan European site for battery production would be based at Sunderland. That new industry is becoming an increasingly important part of the automotive sector, but conventional engines will remain vital to the plant’s activities for a number of years.
The new engine will be used in several models, including Nissan’s Qashqai and Qashqai +2, which are also produced on Wearside.
Further studies are under way to supply engines to Sunderland’s sister plant in St Petersburg for use in the Russian-built X-TRAIL. All of the engines will comply with Euro 5 and 6 CO2 emissions regulations.