Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Nissan refines Infiniti Q30 prototypes

A team from the North-East car firm Nissan Motor Manufacturing UK has travelled to Japan to refine prototypes of the Infiniti Q30 hatchback.

Production trials start next February ahead of the launch of car making in August, according to the Northern Echo.

Infiniti, Nissan’s luxury sister brand, will join Juke, Note and Qashqai on the Sunderland production lines. The plant is being extended and 280 staff recruited to make it capable of producing up to 60,000 Infiniti vehicles a year.

“We will make as many as our customers want,” said Kevin Fitzpatrick, Nissan’s vice president, manufacturing UK, at an event to mark the two millionth Qashqai made in Sunderland.

It is understood that executives at the UK plant are eyeing the next phase of growth when production of the sporty Infiniti model becomes the first Sunderland-built model exported to the US.

The two-millionth vehicle milestone puts Nissan’s North-East factory in the record books. The Sunderland-built car has reached the landmark figure in just eight years, beating some of the most famous British cars ever made. It took 10 years for the original Mini and the new Mini to each clock up two million units, 11 years for the Ford Cortina, 12 years for the Austin 1100, 14 years for Ford’s Escort and the Ford Fiesta passed the mark in 18 years.

Of the two million Qashqais made in Sunderland since December 2006, 85 per cent (1,706,633) have been exported to 132 international markets.
According to Fitzpatrick, the popular vehicle had helped to protect the factory and its 6,700 workers from the recession, which has hit other manufacturers hard.

He said: “I wouldn’t like to think where we would be now without Qashqai.”

He denied that sales of the electric Leaf had been disappointing and said there was no truth in reports that production at the Sunderland battery plant was at risk.

“Leaf is doing well. We have no plans to do anything different from what we originally planned,” claimed Fitzpatrick.

Earlier this year, the factory was forced into a temporary shutdown after problems in its press shop, which makes body parts, and maintenance work taking longer than expected.

Fitzpatrick said extra shifts were being worked to make up the shortfall of 7,500 vehicles causes by the stoppage, but he was confident that the plant would continue its recent record of making more than 500,000 cars in a year.

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