In December 2015 Infiniti started production in Sunderland of the Q30 active compact, rolling off the production line at Sunderland, UK, following a £250m investment that created 300 new jobs. Infiniti's first compact model, the Q30, is also the brand's first vehicle to be manufactured in Europe. Trevor Mann, Chief Performance Officer at Nissan, explains why Nissan chose to build the Infiniti Q30 in Sunderland.
The decision to manufacture the Q30 in Sunderland reflects our confidence in UK production quality and efficiency. This model has been developed jointly by our engineers in Japan, our London design centre and our European technical centre at Cranfield, harnessing the world-class automotive talent based in the UK.
It represents more than £250m of new investment at Sunderland, a site where Nissan has invested more than £3bn since opening the plant in the 1980s. We are also creating hundreds of jobs in the plant taking total employment inside the factory to more than 6,700 by expanding our production to include the Q30.
This marks the first time in more than 20 years that a non-British premium brand, Infiniti, has begun production on this scale in the UK.
Our ambitions underline the competitiveness of Britain as a manufacturing hub and a bridgehead to European markets. This country's access to the European single market and its high-quality supply base is unique, which is why our UK-based operations are playing an increasingly critical role in Nissan's global operations.
Today, Sunderland accounts for one in three of all cars produced in Britain, most of them exported including to the US, the world's largest premium market. Our factory does not only produce cars; it also generates jobs. In addition to employment inside the plant, Nissan sustains 21,000 jobs in the local area around Sunderland and 40,000 in total across the UK.
To safeguard those jobs and to secure investment, companies such as Nissan must be able to take a global view while planning for the long term. Cars manufactured at Sunderland, such as the Nissan Qashqai and the all-electric Leaf, are also produced in Asia and North America.
So we do not take a decision lightly to increase capacity at Sunderland by up to 60,000 units or use our UK plant to begin making a vital new vehicle for the whole company without great thought.
By harnessing the efficiency of our Sunderland plant, the rise of Infiniti will also contribute to Nissan Motor Corporation's overall sales volumes. Nissan's growth in western Europe, and particularly the UK, is also an important contributor in our ongoing drive to be the number one Asian automotive brand in the region.
Alongside North America, western Europe has been an engine of growth for Nissan. As the most senior British executive in Nissan globally, I am especially proud of the part that our Sunderland plant plays in this growth. I learned my trade in Sunderland, starting 30 years ago as a team leader and eventually becoming the plant manager.
To deliver the new Q30, we have trained some 4,000 employees in the premium quality standards that are essential to Infiniti. Our success in this area is vital, because although premium vehicles account for only 10pc of global total industry volumes, this segment generates 50pc of total industry profits.
This production launch is an important step in Nissan's global expansion in the premium sector. We are doing it from Sunderland because, in many ways, it is a premium plant already."