Blog: Not cut out to be an assembler
Chris Wright | 30 March 2012
Just be grateful 'CJ' didn't install this Qashqai dashboard...
I will not be called upon to assemble Nissans any time soon.
Having just spent the day at the company's Sunderland factory in north east England, I found that I couldn't pass the basic skills test, the first towards getting a job on the line. It involved screwing three plates onto a frame and, although I completed the task, it was not within the 'qualifying' time. This will come as no surprise to anyone familiar with my DIY efforts.
Time means everything on the Sunderland line where the tac time is 59 seconds as the plant churns out more than 420,000 cars a year - Qashqais, Jukes and Notes. And there's more to come with Leaf starting production there next year.
That is the next challenge along with bringing a new battery plant on stream which will supply both Nissan and Renault vehicles. We were visiting the factory for a progress report and all is going to plan.
Plant director Kevin Fitzpatrick said: "My ambition is to keep Sunderland as the number one plant in the UK." He expects output to rise over the next two years with the additional vehicles, including a new B-segment hatch from 2013, and with the Juke selling better than expected.
The Japanese manufacturer has sunk over GBP3.3bn into the factory since 1986 and now employs 4,900 people, 133 are still there from the original 430.
I did somewhat better with the driving as we were let loose on the test track in the awesome GTR and the Juke-R which shares the scary 3.8-litre twin turbo V6 and has an even scarier top speed of 160mph.
At least I thought I had done rather well until Jann Mardenborough from Nissan's PlayStation driving academy took the controls. But then he's obviously done it before...
Making cars where you sell them makes sense on a number of grounds. It can be a way to save on shipping costs, exploit lower manufacturing costs, avoid import tariffs and reduce exchange rate risks....
The Paris Show seems a long time ago now, but I have been sent a link to a BBC news item in which just-auto's editor makes a brief appearance....
It was interesting to speak with UK prime minister David Cameron yesterday. I didn't have much time, so I went for the European question....
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