In a move that will create 2,000 jobs, Nissan is to build a new hatchback compact car in Britain, the company announced on March 6.
The new vehicle, called 'Invitation', will be built at Nissan's Sunderland plant in northeastern England from mid-2013 thanks to investment equivalent to $198 million.
"As well as playing a key role in Nissan's market expansion within Europe, the new model will also have a significant benefit in terms of jobs with around 2,000 new posts created at Nissan and amongst its UK supplier base," the compay said.
The hatchback car, which will compete with models such as the Ford Fiesta and the VW Polo, was unveiled on March 5 at the Geneva Motor Show.
Britain's Business Secretary Vince Cable welcomed the news as a "clear vote of confidence" in the country's manufacturing industry, while one trade union described the announcement as a "ray of sunshine" for the flagging economy. "It is fantastic news that Nissan will be building the new model in Sunderland," Cable said. "The investment is a boost for jobs at Nissan's plant as well as the wider supply chain."
The announcement will cement Sunderland's place as the largest car factory in Britain -- a position it has held for the last 14 years.
"I'm delighted that Sunderland has secured what will be another very important model for Nissan in Europe," said Trevor Mann, Nissan senior vice president for Manufacturing in Europe. "It is a testament to the workforce, the ongoing support from the UK government and all of our regional partners and suppliers.
"The additional volume will maintain Sunderland as the country's largest car plant and we expect and look forward to a very busy future."
The Sunderland plant produced more than 480,000 cars last year, a record high for a British plant, as the group was boosted by strong demand for its Qashqai, Juke and Note car models, many of which are sold outside of Britain.
Nissan plans to build up to 100,000 Invitation cars per year.
"The UK remains a globally competitive base for automotive manufacturing with its highly-skilled, flexible workforce and advanced productivity levels continuing to attract major international investment," said Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders chief executive Paul Everitt.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2012
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