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Nissan confirms an all-new Micra model family

Edgy: Official sketch shows an angular new compact wagon from Nissan.

Nissan to produce a Micra-based smaller sibling for X-Trail and Dualis from 2010

5 Jun 2008

NISSAN has announced it will produce an all-new light-sized model, believed to be a mini-SUV to be positioned below both the X-Trail and Dualis, based on the next-generation Micra platform at its Sunderland plant in the UK from 2010.

A basic sketch roughly reveals a compact wagon shape that’s similar to the current Dualis – which has been a smash-hit for Nissan in Europe, where it’s known as the Qashqai - and that some say even borrows styling cues from Nissan’s 350Z sports car.

It was announced on June 3 during a visit by British prime minister Gordon Brown to Nissan’s European Design Centre in central London, where he met Nissan Motor Co president and CEO Carlos Ghosn.

12 center imageLeft: Nissan Dualis. Highlighting the importance of Nissan UK’s Sunderland plant, which employs 4700 workers and exported around 80 per cent of the 374,000 vehicles it produced in the 2007 fiscal year, Mr Brown said the small-car production plan reinforced Britain’s status as a global car-making nation.

“Nissan is a global manufacturer with strong roots in Britain and I'm pleased to welcome Nissan's new investment in the UK. Today's announcement that a brand new car is to be designed and built in the UK is another important boost to our manufacturing industry, and builds upon Nissan's recent commitments to increase investment and jobs at its record breaking Sunderland plant.

“Sunderland's success shows what an innovative, talented and highly committed workforce can achieve, and reaffirms the UK's position as a strong player in the global car industry,” said Mr Brown.

Nissan has confirmed that including the unnamed “innovative all-new compact car”, the next-generation Micra’s underpinnings will form the basis of at least three models. The additional model will bring Sunderland to full capacity one production of the current Micra ends in 2010.

The Japanese company said it would compete in the entry-level car market globally from 2010 with a dedicated new A platform, which was claimed to be one of several business breakthroughs announced as part of its five-year plan dubbed Nissan GT 2012, will be built in five Leading Competitive Countries (LCCs).

It said production sites for its compact model family will include a new plant in Chennai (India), being constructed by the Renault-Nissan Alliance.

“By delivering on tough commitments, our employees at Sunderland have demonstrated our plant can be a globally competitive centre for the production of high-value products,” said Mr Ghosn. “We are encouraged by the proactive support shown by the British government to decide new products for the Sunderland plant.” Along with the elementary design sketch, Nissan released an MP3 sound file that “interviewed” Nissan UK personnel who emphasised the safeguarding of UK jobs and the challenges involved in manufacturing in competition with low-cost nations.

“Gloom and doom seems to be the overriding public mood, but not here at the Sunderland Nissan car factory,” said the unnamed announcer.

“Fresh from the announcement earlier in the year that 800 new jobs were to be created as production in the Qashqai was to be increased, now the plant has been further boosted with news that a new model is to be built at the plant to replace the Micra and it will safeguard around 1300 jobs.

“But it has been a hard-fought process to secure the deal in an increasingly competitive marketplace.” Deputy managing director of Sunderland plant Kevin Fitzpatrick said: “Because it’s a global economy, you’re competing with plants in low-cost countries. To survive you have to adapt and continually change.

“We’ve now had a record performance this year. We’ll 450,000 cars – that’s more than we’ve ever built before.” Trim and chassis production manager Steve March said: “The Sunderland plant over the years has demonstrated that they thrive on challenges. We’re at our best when we’re up against it and we’re facing the challenge and yes this is no different.

“Whilst this is a great announcement today, the challenge ahead is going to be a tough one and we know that and we’re up for that change. We’re ready for it.

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