Nissan Sunderland Plant is marking the start of production of the third-generation Qashqai with a renewed pledge to inspire future generations of manufacturing talent.
Following a £400m investment, the latest version of the segment-defining crossover is now rolling off the plant’s production Line One, as the plant celebrates 35 years of manufacturing in the UK.
Qashqai represents one in five of all cars built in Britain since its launch 14 years ago – and to celebrate the new generation model, Nissan is offering every schoolchild in North East England the opportunity to take part in a Nissan Skills Foundation event – the company’s programme of activities designed to excite youngsters about careers in manufacturing and engineering.
Alan Johnson, Nissan Vice President for Manufacturing in the UK, said: “Sunderland Plant is built on 35 years of manufacturing excellence, and from the skills and expertise of our world-class team comes a car for the future.
“More than 3.5m customers have chosen a Qashqai made in Sunderland since it went on sale in 2007, and the third-generation model delivers the new levels of technology, design and performance that people have come to expect from the original crossover.
“We know it has been a tough year for young people, so we’re using the launch of this next-generation car to step up our efforts to inspire the next-generation of manufacturing talent.
“We want every child in the North East of England to have the opportunity to be inspired by the Nissan Skills Foundation.”
Since the launch of the original model in 2007, Qashqai has broken record after record. It was the fastest UK car to reach one million, two million and three million units built, and more than 3.5 million have now been produced in Sunderland – about a third of the plant’s all-time total.
Those numbers also mean that one in five cars built in the UK since 2007 has been a Qashqai – the highest-volume car made in Britain.
The team at the plant have undergone thousands of hours of training for the launch of Qashqai, which is designed, engineered and manufactured by Nissan in its UK facilities, supporting more than 7,000 jobs in Paddington, Maple Cross, Cranfield, Lutterworth and Sunderland, as well as a further 24,000 in the wider UK supply chain and about 5,000 in UK dealerships.
Alan Johnson added: “Qashqai is a huge part of not just the heritage of our plant, but of the entire UK car industry. It pioneered the crossover segment, and each new model has increased its popularity with our customers.
The Nissan Skills Foundation was founded in 2014 and is geared towards encouraging young people to take up careers in manufacturing. It has grown to include 10 bespoke activities for children aged seven to 18, as well as providing resources for regional schools to take part in international STEM competitions. To date more than 65,000 young people from across the region have taken part in a Nissan Skills Foundation event.
New manufacturing facilities required for new-generation technology
Nissan has invested £400m into the Sunderland plant to support third-generation Qashqai production.
Key investments have included a £52m second extra-large press line and scrap recycling system, called the Cyclone, which allows Qashqai to become the plant’s first model built largely from aluminium.
Other new facility investments include 117 new robots for the plant’s Body Shop, working with both aluminium and the new ultra-high tensile steel that helps gives Qashqai its best-in-class safety performance.
New Qashqai means striking new colours in the Paint Shop, with five new two-tone combinations available. Four new robots also apply a fine layer of the latest sound-deadening technology inside the vehicle, resulting in lower cabin noise for the driver.
Significant improvements in Trim and Chassis (final assembly) include the introduction of an automatic receiving and sequencing facility which, in a first for the plant, fits Qashqai’s weight-reducing plastic tailgate.
Qashqai is built on the Alliance CMF platform (Common Module Family), which has meant a major upgrade in Trim and Chassis suspension assembly process, with the new front and rear suspensions and steering layout supporting the car’s enhanced dynamic performance.
Finally, Qashqai’s advanced technology has also meant new, advanced, digital systems that programme and bring the car to life.