Figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders (SMMT) showed that the plant’s 2004 export total of 252,759 Micras, Almeras and Primeras was 44,500 units more than the second-largest manufacturer.
This means that over 1 in 5 cars exported during 2004 came from the factory. Later this year the three millionth car for export will roll off the production line destined for one of the 45 markets around the world where Sunderland-built vehicles are sold – such as Australia, Mexico, Peru and Russia.
As well as being named the top UK car exporter, the Sunderland plant has also been the UK’s biggest car producer for the last five years and the most productive car plant in Europe for seven years.
Colin Dodge, managing director of the Sunderland plant, says: "The plant is currently upgrading production areas ready for the introduction of three new models in just 16 months - the Micra C+C cabriolet this autumn, a mini-MPV based on the Tone concept next January, and a compact 4x4 crossover vehicle based on the Qashqai concept from December 2006. Added to the current model range at the factory, these new cars could see the annual production volume increase to around 400,000 units by 2007."
Last year the Sunderland plant produced 319,652 vehicles, an average of around 90 cars per hour. The plant currently employs around 4,100 staff and to-date over 3.9 million vehicles have been built at the plant.