Research reported by the auto industry portal and website, just-auto.com, at www.just-auto.com/features_detail.asp?art=310 indicates that Nissan's Sunderland is the most productive plant in Europe. The original research, published by Automotive World, indicates that Japanese plants are still the most productive globally, with some Korean plants very close. The best manage to produce over 150 cars per employee. North American plants are generally superior to the Europeans, although Nissan's Sunderland plant is more productive than any in North America.

At Nissan's Sunderland plant, productivity fell slightly in 1999, owing to the disruption caused by the introduction of the Almera and of the revised Primera. Output fell from 288,000 to 271,000, while the workforce increased slightly, so that the productivity level was down from 105 to 94 cars per employee, still well ahead of all other European plants.

just-auto.com's Managing Editor, Dave Leggett said: "Doubts have been raised about Nissan's commitment to its UK plant, particularly as the euro has plummeted against sterling, but the fundamental performance of the plant is very strong. Overall, the disparities are still striking in an industry so obsessed by best practice."

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