Nissan’s Sunderland plant in the north-east of England has started production of a newly developed engine that might create 200 new jobs over the next three years.

The contract to assemble the two-litre MR petrol motor was secured in July 2009 after approval of the first GBP2m (US$2.9m) of a proposed GBP15m investment package to upgrade Sunderland’s engine operation through to 2014.

Regional development agency One North East kicked in a GBPm 1.94m grant. Nissan said around 60,000 MR engines will be produced each year, immediately safeguarding 130 jobs and creating up to 200 additional posts by 2013, depending on sales.

The engine, which complies with Euro 5 and 6 emissions regulations, will be an option for several models including the Qashqai line assembled in Sunderland.

Nissan UK manufacturing chief Kevin Fitzpatrick said:  “This marks an important new stage in engine production in Sunderland. In recent years our employees have focused on improving the overall competitiveness of our engine operation so we are able to bring new business like this to the plant. 

“Winning the MR engine is good news in terms of jobs, both here and amongst our suppliers, and it also puts our plant in a strong position to bid for future engine derivatives.”