► Nissan Sunderland factory builds 11m cars
► Fastest UK car plant to reach milestone
► Founded in 1986: still going strong
The Nissan factory in Sunderland is celebrating a special production record: it’s just built its 11 millionth car, a silver Nissan Qashqai e-Power.
Britain’s biggest car plant builds the Qashqai and Juke crossovers, as well as the Leaf electric car. The Qashqai remains in strong demand and was the UK’s bestselling car in 2022 – the first time that honour has befallen a British-built car for 24 years.
The Nissan Sunderland factory opened in 1986, at a time when Japanese car makers were attracted to the UK by its position in Europe, competitive tax rates and strong technical R&D know-how. Honda and Toyota followed suit, but the sector is under increasing pressure from Brexit and the lack of a cohesive government manufacturing strategy.
Join us on a detailed look around the Nissan Sunderland plant
Britain’s biggest car factory
Nissan’s first car to emerge from Sunderland was the Bluebird, which took 22 hours to manufacture. Today a Nissan Qashqai e-Power hybrid takes 8.5 hours, according to the company, reflecting increased mechanisation and efficiency. The factory employs 6000 staff and supports a further 30,000 jobs in the automotive supply chain.
On average, a new car has rolled off the line every two minutes, every day for 37 years: Sunderland has built nine different models, four of which – Qashqai, Micra, Primer and Juke – have gone on to sell more than a million models apiece.