The third shift has added 800 new jobs at the plant and has been created due to demand for the Qashqai crossover.
The third shift will also help Sunderland meet expected demand for the ‘Qashqai +2’, a seven seat version of the original five-seater car that will be officially unveiled at next month’s London Motor Show.
‘Qashqai +2’ will enter production in August 2008 and go on sale across Europe in September.
Trevor Mann, senior vice president of manufacturing in Europe, said: "Qashqai has proven so popular that we need to increase our volume to significantly more than 200,000 cars this year."
All recruits will work on the Qashqai production line, which currently manufactures around 4,500 cars per week. This will rise to around 6,100 units per week once the third shift is running at full volume.
Nissan President and CEO, Carlos Ghosn, visited the plant earlier this month to see preparation for the third shift, and to announce that a new, compact car will be launched in Sunderland from 2010.