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Sunderland to build ’06 Nissan mini-MPV

Nissan has already begun recruiting additional manufacturing staff for its Sunderland plant in preparation for production of a new mini-MPV named the Tone, which will go on sale in spring 2006.

The move has proved a much-needed uplift for the UK’s motor manufacturing sector following Jaguar’s impending closure of its Brown’s Lane plant and recent efficiency issues at Land Rover’s Solihull factory.

Nissan revealed its new five-door model – one of three separate cars believed to be replacing the Almera by the end of the decade – during the Paris motor show.

The carmaker followed the unveiling with an announcement that it would be built in Sunderland alongside the Micra, Micra C+C, Primera and Almera, with the creation of around 200 new jobs and an investment of some £125m. Around 100,000 units will be produced annually for domestic and export markets.

The company has now launched a manufacturing staff trainee scheme to fill the first 100 posts. Recruits will be employed for the first 14 months by the Automotive Sector Strategic Alliance, after which they will transfer to a permanent Nissan Motor Manufacturing UK contract as trainee production operatives.

After a further six months, they will take posts in the plant’s body, paint, trim and chassis shops. Nissan Europe executive vice- president Patrick Pelata says the Tone “represents our thinking” in the mini-MPV sector. “The niche market where Tone will compete is forecast to have grown by a factor of four from 2002 to 2007.”

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