Nissan's new Qashquai crossover (say it fast), the smart-looking little wagonoid introduced earlier this year at Paris, officially went into production yesterday at Nissan's Sunderland plant in the UK. It'll be produced alongside the NOTE, Micra, Micra C+C, and Primera -- vehicles which, like the Qashquai, aren't available on these shores.

In the next 3 to 4 weeks, Qashquai will ramp up to full production, and dealers will see them arrive at their lots in February. Over 80% of the cars produced will be exported, with greater Europe being the primary beneficiary. It should be noted that Japan is one of the other markets it'll be sent to, making it only the second UK-produced Nissan after the Primera to be exported to the automaker's home country.

(Press release after the jump)

[Source: Nissan]

PRESS RELEASE:
QASHQAI QUEUED UP FOR PRODUCTION

Sunderland (December 5, 2006) – Nissan's latest model, the QASHQAI, will begin rolling off the production line today at its plant in Sunderland.

QASHQAI is a compact crossover, combining the best attributes of a traditional family hatchback with the option of advanced 4x4 capability.

Around 130,000 will be produced in Sunderland, alongside NOTE, Primera, Micra and Micra C+C, potentially increasing total annual volume to around 400,000 units by the end of 2007 – a plant record.

QASHQAI's arrival rounds off one of Sunderland's busiest periods in its 20-year history with three new model launches within the last 16 months.

Vice President of UK Manufacturing, Trevor Mann, said: "This is a very important day for our plant as QASHQAI will spearhead Nissan's drive for sustained, profitable growth in Europe.

"As such, the Sunderland workforce has been given a great deal of responsibility. But they have earned the right to build this car through their continued hard work and excellent track record in terms of productivity and reliability.

"I would also like to thank both national and local government and regional development agencies for their continued support, as well as the unstinting efforts of all our suppliers."

QASHQAI represents a total investment of €322.8 m and will secure more than 3,000 jobs at the plant and within the regional supply chain. It has also created 200 temporary and 100 trainee posts at the plant.

Around 80% of QASHQAI production will be exported, the majority for sale within Europe. The car will also be shipped to numerous overseas markets such as the Middle East, Australia, South Africa as well as Japan – making it only the second Sunderland-built model to be exported to the Japanese market. The first being the 1996 model Primera.

Furthermore, QASHQAI is the first new model to be built down the plant's recently installed 'Nissan Integrated Manufacturing System'. This is a new, flexible line being adopted at Nissan plants around the world. Its many benefits over a conventional line include a shorter lead time, improved ergonomics, multi-model, random sequence production and increased integration with suppliers.

From today, the car will ramp up to full production volume in just 4 weeks, ensuring dealers across Europe are fully stocked ready for the car's start of sale date at the end of February 2007.

Customers will be able to choose between 3 trim grades and 4 engine options. Two petrol units, a 1.6 and 2.0-litre, will be available in February, as will a 1.5 diesel. An all-new 2.0 diesel engine will join the line up from April next year.

NMUK, Sunderland Key Facts
  • 21 years of achievement
  • QASHQAI is NMUK's 10th new model launched since production began
  • Total investment to date of more than €3 billion
  • NMUK has been the UK's biggest car exporter for six years and accounts for 20 per cent of the country's total car production
  • 315,000 cars manufactured in 2005
  • 4,400 workforce
Total production to date = 4 million units


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