Wednesday, January 31, 2001

Nissan stays put in Sunderland

The recent decision by Nissan Motor Co to keep production of the new Micra supermini in England is to be warmly welcomed.

Carlos Ghosn, Nissan president, also known as "le cost killer", conceded that leveraging £40 million of UK taxpayer's money from the British government had influenced the decision in favour of Sunderland, instead of moving Micra production to France. (Surely a grant or investment not public spending of UK taxpayer's money - ed.)

Ghosn also said Micra component suppliers will be paid in euros following a campaign by Japanese companies calling for Britain to join the Euro.

In reality Nissan was hardly likely to shutter the most efficient car plant in Europe in favour of the French site which was in need of major refurbishment to bring it up to par.

The new Nissan Micra due in 2002 is badly needed with the existing retro-look Micra looking increasingly long in the tooth. The Japanese cars on sale in Europe have generally failed to catch the public imagination - with the possible exception of the Toyota Yaris.

Nissan will increase annual UK production from 330,000 to 500,000 when the new vehicle is introduced. With Toyota raising output at their Burnaston, Derbyshire, plant from 170,000 to 220,000 cars a year these increases will go some way to counter GM and Ford closures at Luton and Dagenham.

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