The Sunderland plant in England will no longer manufacture a C-segment hatchback which Nissan had planned to make there in 2014. Instead, the plant will be the sole build location of a new Infiniti model.

Nissan says it will invest a further GBP250m (US$405m) at Sunderland towards the costs of adding this additional model. The company claims 1,000 jobs will be created across the UK, of which 280 will be at its factory.

Colin Dodge, Nissan Motor’s chief performance officer, stated: “This milestone, our first premium product to be manufactured at Sunderland, reconfirms our commitment to UK manufacturing and the ongoing success of the plant, which is moving up the value chain.

“Just as important, the new Infiniti, which will be exported around the world, is being developed with help from our London design centre and our European Technical Centre at Cranfield.”

As recently as April, Nissan Europe revealed plans to build 80,000 units a year of an unnamed C-segment model at Sunderland from 2014. That car was thought to be the second generation Tiida, which would have returned Nissan Europe as a mass manufacturer to the Golf segment. Now it seems, that strategy has been abandoned.

The new Infiniti, which Nissan calls an “all-new premium entry compact”, is expected to be a rival for the Audi A3 Sportback. The firm is planning annual production of 60,000 units.

The car should be called either ‘Q30’ or ‘Q40’. It will use the Daimler platform that underpins the second generation Mercedes-Benz B-Class, Nissan and Daimler announced at the Frankfurt motor show in September 2011.

By the time the new car comes on line at Sunderland, the plant will also be building the second generation Qashqai, the Leaf, the Juke and the new Note.

Author: Glenn Brooks