Nissan Spanks The Record Books in the UK
In 2010, Nissans Sunderland car plant became the highest producing car plant ever in British history, producing over 423,000 cars and at that time, no other car plant had even reached 400,000 in 12 months. For 2011, Nissan have upped that record even further, producing over 480,000 vehicles.
This level of success however hasn’t been achieved overnight as it was 25 years ago that the first “Bluebirds” began rolling off the production line with 1987 seeing a credible 29,000 vehicles leave the Sunderland plant.
So what’s been Nissan’s recipe for success?
Well when we first got Nissan cars in the UK in the sixties, but for the UK, they were called “Datsun” however, the car maker’s history goes way back to 1914, when 3 Japanese investors began producing cars and called their company “DAT” which were the initials of these 3 investors (Den, Aoyama and Takeuchi), although DAT actually means ‘hare’ in Japanese.
In 1931, DAT produced a smaller car, it was originally called ‘son of DAT’ and it wasn’t long before this name evolved into ‘Datsun’ (bet you’d always wondered about that).
Nissan itself was born in 1934, when a Japanese entrepreneur called Nihon Sangyo became the company’s sole owner and changed the name to Nissan.
Two decades later, the first Nissan made its way to the States with the brand making its debut at the Los Angeles motor show in 1958 and that was just the start as by 1971, annual sales of Nissan in the U.S. passed the quarter of a million mark.
Europe wasn’t neglected either as over 700 ‘Bluebirds’ made their way to Finland in 1962. Sales to the Netherlands, Belgium, Sweden, Denmark and Switzerland followed quickly, with France and the UK shortly afterwards. The worldwide marketing of vehicles using the Nissan name began in 1983.
For the UK, the Nissan investment has become larger and larger and within 5 years of opening the UK plant in 1987, staff levels at the Sunderland plant had risen to over 4,000. Two years later, nearly 183,000 Micra’s and Primera’s were being exported to 36 world markets. Soon after that, the one millionth vehicle rolled off the line, making the plant the most productive in Europe, which was an accolade Nissan won several years running.
The next milestone for Nissan was in March 1999 when a deal between Nissan and French car maker Renault saw Renault take a 36% stake in Nissan at a cost of £3.3bn, providing extra stability and a sharing of certain technologies.
The Sunderland plant has continued to grow and the introduction products like Note, Qashqai and more recently Juke has helped the Northern England factory produce a phenomenal 46,606 vehicles in November 2011, the highest monthly production total ever whilst the amount of staff employed increased to 5462 people.
This year will see Nissans first lithium-ion battery production facility outside of Japan opening at the plant in preparation for the start of production of the all-electric Nissan Leaf in 2013.
So its congratulations to Nissan for their 25 year commitment to the UK and Sunderland, and thank goodness they made the decision to put their trust in English workers at a time when unions and disputes were still common place in British industry and its clear that the workers at the Sunderland plant have enabled Nissan to achieve these levels of success and Nissan have rewarded them with more and more investment and a future that’s bright, even in these difficult times.