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Nissan to build new car at Sunderland

Nissan Motor has announced today that it will invest £223 million at its Sunderland plant to build a new small crossover vehicle there starting December 2006.

The investment includes £5 million to be subsidised by the Department of Trade and Industry.

The new vehicle, codenamed P32L, will mix minivan and hatchback styles and is based on the Qashqai concept unveiled in Geneva last year.

The announcement was made by Sunderland plant manager Colin Dodge, senior vice president, manufacturing, Nissan Europe, at a press conference in Sunderland this morning, attended by Patricia Hewitt, Secretary of State for Trade and Industry.

The news means the creation of about 200 jobs.

Initial production of the unnamed model will be around 130,000 units a year, bringing the factory's total annual production to 400,000 units. The vehicle, which was designed and developed in Britain, will go on sale in 2007.

"Today’s announcement is a tremendous vote of confidence in our workforce," said Dodge. "Production of the P32L is a good decision for the company given our employees’ track record of handling the complexities of manufacturing multiple vehicles. It will be a challenge to integrate this all-new model into our product mix, along with our upcoming model changes. But this is the sort of challenge any car plant would welcome and I know the workforce will be looking forward to next year and the start of production."

Nissan also unveiled today its new Navara Crew Cab pick-up and the Zaroot concept SUV which will be unveiled to the public at the Geneva Motor Show on March 1. And it showed a production-ready version of its Pathfinder SUV which is due to go on sale in March.

Nissan said last September it would also build a new compact multi-purpose vehicle based on the Tone show car at the plant starting January 2006.

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