News : Infiniti confirms UK production

Carole Nash Classic Insurance Specialists

Keith Adams

Infiniti's first all-new compact executive car will be built in the UK. It's expected to be based on the 2012 Etheria concept.
Infiniti’s first all-new compact executive car will be built in the UK. It’s expected to be based on the 2012 Etheria concept.

Infiniti will manufacture vehicles in Washington, United Kingdom. The company, which is part of Nissan, has announced that it will make a Β£250m investment into the factory in the north east, and expects to create 1000 jobs in the process.

Nissan has come a long way since car production in the Sunderland area started in 1986. Back then, it built the Bluebird, and there was little local content in the car. Today, the Qashqai and Juke are built at this factory, and in 2012, it’s expected that more than 500,000 of the British designed and engineered cars will be manufactured at Nissan Sunderland – making this Britain’s largest car manufacturer.

Infiniti intends to build its first all-new compact executive car at the factory, with production commencing in 2015. It’s expected that production will run at around 60,000 of Infiniti’s 3-Series rival per year. During 2012, employment on the site exceeded 6000 for the first time and global exports from the plant now exceed five million units.

Because of capacity limitations at Sunderland, securing the new Infiniti will mean that a C-segment hatchback previously announced for the plant in April will be manufactured elsewhere. Sourcing for this vehicle will be decided and announced at a later date.

Prime Minister David Cameron commented: ‘This investment is excellent news for the North East and another vote of confidence for UK manufacturing. The continued success of Nissan in the UK demonstrates the strength of the car industry here, and its importance, as we rebalance and grow the economy. This announcement shows how the car industry in partnership with the Government continues to win important long term investment projects, in a tough competitive sector; helping the UK to get ahead in the global race.’

Nissan has come a long way in the UK since 1986
Nissan has come a long way in the UK since 1986
Keith Adams

Keith Adams

Editor and creator AROnline at AROnline
Created www.austin-rover.co.uk in 2001 and built it up to become the world's foremost reference source for all things BMC, Leyland and Rover Group, before renaming it AROnline in 2007.

Is the Editor of the Parkers website and price guide, formerly editor of Classic Car Weekly, and launch editor/creator of Modern Classics magazine. Has contributed to various motoring titles including Octane, Practical Classics, Evo, Honest John, CAR magazine, Autocar, Pistonheads, Diesel Car, Practical Performance Car, Performance French Car, Car Mechanics, Jaguar World Monthly, MG Enthusiast, Modern MINI, Practical Classics, Fifth Gear Website, Radio 4, and the the Motoring Independent...

Likes 'conditionally challenged' motors and taking them on unfeasible adventures all across Europe.
Keith Adams

69 Comments

  1. What is the gain if winning this production of this car lost the production of a different car – which would probably have been a higher production level, meaning the UK has probably LOST work in its component supply chain as a result of getting this car ?????

  2. @1 – Miserable bugger alert! – If they get the Infiniti compact Exec right it will probably be a far easier sell in Europe than another non-premium small hatchback. Dont see anything negative here.

  3. I suppose there is a bit of ‘double counting’ in the figures – but show me any Government that doesn’t engage in such activities from time to time! Still, a 250 million investment and 1000 new jobs is darn good news in the current automotive climate.

    I quite like the car too – shame it’s obscured by some gurning berk in a cheap suit. Can we see more of the car?

  4. @ Leslie:

    Taking a more simplistic view on this announcement, it still confirms that Nissan UK is able to attract production of all-new models, thus securing existing jobs at Sunderland. Moreover, the success of a new formula, such as the Infiniti brand, may well lead to the hope of additional jobs being created in the medium and long term.

    This is good news and for anyone wanting a 3 Series rival made here in the UK, here is the first offering since the demise of the Rover 75 and Jaguar X-Type. Nice to the old Birmingham registration number ‘JOB 1’ too!

  5. @David 3500:

    Sorry, but my last sentence should have read as: “Nice to see the old Birmingham registration number ‘JOB 1’ too!”

    I blame having eye strain and using a laptop with small keys!

  6. @5 Mike Humble

    They’re not Geordie’s, which the accent I assume your mimicking. There is a fierce rivalry between those born around the Tyne and those from Wearside, which is evident from their local football derbies.

    On a lighter note, it’s good news for the North East, which lost two vital industries – Coal mining and ship building.

  7. @12

    Do the Infinities have keyless entry, or will those fitting the locks be asking “d’ya know whee’s keys are these?” πŸ˜‰

  8. Good news that what looks to be a credible 3 series rival will be built in the UK. Let’s hope for a couple of things:

    – The Infiniti dealer network is expanded to provide decent nationwide coverage
    – In the words of Captain Slow, that the suspension of the new car is NOT developed at the Nurburgring

  9. @1
    I too wondered about the gain if Sunderland was loosing one production model for another. However the investment announced today is approx double and the jobs gained will be approx the same assuming the 1000 jobs created includes those in the supply chain. See link below for details.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-tyne-17657611

    Makes me wonder why Ford are pulling out of this country when other manufacturers are investing so much.

    Well done Sunderland πŸ™‚

  10. Good news for the North East. Nissan is becoming more of a premium-price manufactirer in the UK – Juke, LEAF and Infiniti, rather that Micra, Almera and primera a few years ago. I guess this trend will continue as labour costs are comparatuvely higher than in India, for example, where the Micra (and Pixo?) is now built. Shows great confidence in the plant that they are prepared to do this rather than reduce or close it. Wonder what the next Qashqai will be like.

  11. From what I read, the Washington built Infiniti is to be a C-segment premium hatchback built in the Mercedes A-class platform. (Renault-Nissan are in a contract with Merc, that has already seen a Merc version of the Kangoo van)

    @16

    The next Qashcow is to be even bigger, to the dismay of us other car park users who hate dents.

  12. I hope the Infiniti sells, especially compared to the Leaf, but there might still be a bit to do on brand image;

    http://sniffpetrol.com/?s=infiniti

    Nevertheless, if it helps Britain’s reputation for making premium volume vehicles that can’t be bad. I just hope Toyota at Burnaston get the message.

  13. I’ve seen an Infiniti coupe. From the front it looks like an old Lexus but from the back it looks a bit GT-R like, very nice and possible candidate for Accord coupe replacement.

    Apparently the combustion engined Leaf hatchback that was going to be made in Washington is no longer going to be made in Washington, but elsewhere somewhere cheaper.

  14. @18, I like the sniffpetrol report! But it raises an interesting point….how many Infinitis have been sold since they started in the UK? Does anyone have any sales figures? I’ve never seen one.

  15. People wanting to buy a small British luxury car again will now have a replacement for the X Type, and judging by the success of the Juke and the Qashqai, I don’t think the new generation of Infinitis will fail. If Nissan play on the fact it’s a BMW 3 series made in Britain with Nissan running costs, I can’t see the car failing.

  16. I read this on the Beeb news website last night. Makes a change to hear news about jobs being created & not jobs lost. It’s good news for the area for once

  17. @KC

    In November, Infiniti sold 55 cars. In perspective:

    Aston Martin (50)

    Bentley (109)

    Chrysler (107)

    Infiniti (55)

    Maserati (22)

    MG (21)

    Perodua – do they even still sell cars in the UK? (29)

    Ssangyoug (55)

    Subaru (83)

    Lotus (1)

    Proton (5)

    Saab (1)

  18. Overall I agree it’s good news that an Infiniti premium car will be built at Sunderland (says lots about build quality achieved there). Shame the anticipated Hatchback will now be built elsewhere, but I’m sure we’ll see it on UK roads aswell.

    I do hope the production version looks a bit better than this concept car, if it’s to go head to head with Audi & BMW.

  19. @12,15,25,26 et al. The Nissan plant is in Washington, NOT Sunderland. Ergo, while Mackems will undoubtedly be working there, its not a Mackem factory as such. Its built on the old Usworth Aerodrome site, in WASHINGTON. It drives me crazy to hear the word ‘Sunderland’ when describing the factory location and staff origin.

  20. @27 Well as I have distant relatives who live in Sunderland work at Nissan, and the plant is pretty much inbetween both washington and sunderland.

    I think it is good news for Nissan workers. The model originally planned was a non premimum model, and with Nissan planning to grow the Infiniti brand, the likeley hood is that I could see the whole plant becoming turned over to Infiniti, as the build quality at the plant beats alot of the so called premimum brands

  21. Post 24 says it all. This is a disaster in the making, with an apparently well run factory making products which people over much of Europe bought in their thousands being turned over to make a product no-one here has ever heard of, and fewer are likely to want . One only needs to look at the fate of Lexus, which started well and over the last few years has faded badly ( with used car values dropping like a stone ) to see what happens to imitation “premium” products .My heart bleeds for those involved with Washington – I just hope that I am wrong

  22. @27 Lord Sward – Yes, the factory is actually in Washington, but the Media tend to use the nearest City identity and Washington’s affairs now come under Sunderland Council. I worked on many Corporate/Promo Videos produced for Nissan from construction of the factory up until 1992, during Bluebird,Primera & Micra production.

    I also flew in & out of Usworth Aerodrome when it was in use – I think that also had the unofficial name of “Sunderland Airport”. It must be noted that lots of Nissan employees reside in nearby areas such as South Tyneside etc

  23. At last Longbridge and Washington will have something in common- both are fielding obscure models from brands that nobody has ever heard of!

    Despite which, Infiniti are selling more than double the number of cars that Longbridge has- go figure.

  24. Oh, and agree with No.7, Magnus about the shrunken Bruce Forsyte look-a-like in the suit from George at ASDA. Get out of the bloody way!!!

    To see you, not nice.

  25. @31 Yup, but one thing though Chris, I have actually seen 6’s and Magnettes on the road, I’ve yet to see an Inifiniti however!

  26. @33, Yorkiebusdriver,

    Lucky you- I’ve never seen either. I’m beginning to think that the existance of the MG6 is an urban myth.

  27. I’ve seen both! Been in the very plush Infinity Lahnden showroom too.

    Anyway is this a reskinned Leaf for the corporate luxury market? A Lexus CT200 rival?

  28. @15

    The main reason behine Ford pulling out of Southampton is becuase the site is land locked and the building is now English Heratige Grade-listed – meaning expansion is impossible. When Ford did expand o nthe site i nthe 1990’s they were given a massive fine for changing the exterior of the building. This is what happens when people put the preservation of buildings above the preservation of jobs!!

    As the Dagenham Stamping Plant now only serve Southampton, is obvious that once Southampton goes, it has to follow as there is no other customer for their work.

    So a decision made to preserve a building becuase it had some historical link to WWII, has ultimatly cost the jobs of hundreds in Southampton, plus hundreds more in Dagneham and the surrounding businesses and linked industries. All for some bricks and mortar. Makes you wonder, dosen’t it??

  29. Great news for Sunderland and the North East in general! That JOB1 Nissan Bluebird is in the Museum (The one next to Mowbray Park)) on Borough Rd , Sunderland.

  30. Twelve Infiniti Centres in the UK – one of which is in Birmingham. Have seen a few of the EX/FX crossover vehicles.

  31. Infinitis have been on sale in the US since around 1989. Key to success in the UK and Europe is taking diesel seriously. I suspect that this is one reason why Lexus don’t sell as well as they used to in the UK. With petrol in the US at around 60p per litre, both Lexus and Infiniti see no need to offer diesels there.

  32. There is an Infiniti dealer in Stockport,perhaps for the Cheshire set,none of the cars in the range are appealing,a bit like Maximas and QX models.They will export well enough and thats the name of the game.Lexus spent Β£4 billion developing and growing the brand worldwide, the LS400 was a Toyota Aristo in Japan.there is no future for Infiniti here,credible rivalsto anything german?i think not.

  33. 37- Believe that you will believe anything. If the site was unsuitable, Ford could have constructed a new plant on any number of sites across the UK. More than likely getting grants in the process.

    The reality is, the UK is a big and loyal market for Ford. That loyalty has been rewarded by factory closures and job losses.

  34. most likely scenario. Remember that with Micra, Nissan became one of the UK’s biggest exporters and it wouldn’t surprise me if they pulled the same trick again with this. One good thing, low CO2 content for the local market.. Many parts will come from here and with jobs sustained here in the UK it’s yet another truly British car to buy. What do we have now?

    Jaguar
    XF, XJ, XK, (coming soon) F-Type, and of course XE.

    LandRover
    Defender, Disco, Range Rover, RR Sport, Freelander, Evoque

    Vauxhall
    Astra

    Lotus
    Elise, Evora, Exige

    Toyota
    Auris?

    MINI
    Hatch, coupe, convertible

    Nissan/Infiniti
    ??

    Bently
    ??

    Rolls Royce
    ??

    By the way, I would suggest Ford moved out because of a few problems. Old business models struggling to adapt until recently. Old plants. Poor quality ‘perception’ – I say perception since most Ford products can be put together by idiots and turn out top notch now… But their move to Germany would have added a certain cachet about it to some people.

  35. 45@ Rolls Royce is no different to MG, just an assembly plant. Lotus is as good as out, but McLaren is in. Don’t forget Morgan and Caterham too.

    Don’t forget the GM Vivaro plant in Luton (which is on one shift wind down till 2014’s new model) Southampton will still do you a Transit too (just).

  36. Good to read that “Job 1” is in the Sunderland Museum. What’s the Edwardian (?) car in the background of the archive pic?

  37. @27

    The factories address is

    Nissan Motor Manufacturing (UK)
    Washington Road
    Sunderland,
    Tyne and Wear SR5 3NS
    β€Ž
    0191 415 0000

    If we want to get pedantic, check the map and you will find its closer to North Sunderland than it is to Washington.

  38. @45

    Currently:

    Jaguar
    XF, XJ, XK, (coming soon) F-Type, and of course XE.

    LandRover
    Defender, Disco, Range Rover, RR Sport, Freelander, Evoque

    Vauxhall
    Astra

    Lotus
    Elise, Evora, Exige

    Toyota
    Auris & Avensis

    MINI
    Hatch, coupe, convertible

    Nissan/Infiniti
    Juke, Note, Qashqai

    Bentley
    All Models

    Rolls Royce
    All models

    Honda
    Jazz, Civic, CRV

  39. @50 Get on your bike and have a look around the place. Its Washington and there is a dual carraigeway seperating it from Sunderland.

    Finally, you’re more likely to see a South Tyneside roadside than a Sunderland road sign.

  40. Well done – Thanks to the efforts of the skilled workforce from wherever they originate.
    49@ I’m surprised that you are old enough to remember the Clan Crusader, the product of Washington’s first car factory. Regarding the location of the factory, it is Sunderland, Washington being a part thereof. The site is on the old Sunderland Airport, previously named after Usworth Aerodrome and originally named after the Hylton Castle area which is still the nearest part of Sunderland to the site. Many months ago, you stated that the A19 was the dividing line between Sunderland and Washington, but traditionally, the A19 ran along Ryhope Road, Burdon Road, Fawcett Street, Bridge Street and Newcastle Road. That road did not exist until around the early 1970’s after the Hylton Bridge was built. So please stop trying to gain independence for Washington – it IS part of Sunderland.

  41. Richard Kilpatrick – Thank you!
    Lord Sward – Please moderate your temper – it plays havock with your spelling abilities.
    “Carriageway”
    “Separate”
    Please look at a map for proximities to the River Tyne (6km) and River Wear (0.6km) from the closest edge of the site to those geographical features.
    I think you might find that the road signs which dominate in an area, are displaying directions to places you might want to go to rather than the names of places which you are already in. As you are already in Sunderland, there is no need to reiterate the fact.
    However, I am pleased to see that you have agreed to stop this nonsense by starting the last sentence of your previous post with “Finally”.

  42. @44

    It’s not a case of ‘Believe that and I’ll beleive anything’ – I am part of the launch process of Ford Commercial Vehicles in Europe so what I state is fact.

    Unfortunetly, there was no grant forthcomming from the government to develop a new site in the UK. Even if there was, it would be at least 3 years for a brand new site to become operational – and with the next generation Transit due to start building next year that option was never going to feasible.

    Whilst I agree that the UK market is loyal, the fact remains, that the UK Government has no intnetion to assist Ford in the process of retaining jobs in the UK. Making operational plants Grade Listed and witholding grants which would secure jobs whilst handing them out to SAIC, BMW and Nissan, are all factors that eventually lead to the situation we will face next summer, as the last UK produced Ford vehicle rolls off the production line.

    In any business, the key is to make a profit, and if the business case to do that by making vehicles in the UK ceases, then guess what, the production moves. There is no point in Ford being sentimental over its production facilities, profit is the bottom line. We have seen a raft of closures throught the US too, as un-profitable factories are close and unfortuently Southanpton was bound to follow suit due to the issues mentioned previously.

    This has happend in many other industries and believe me, Ford will not be the last manufacutre to leave the UK, due to uncooperative support from the government.

  43. Andrew, now you are on dodgy ground. I really don’t like the term “mackem” and it cannot be applied to all people from the Wearside area, only those who try to pronounce the word make as mak and the word take as tak. It is a relatively recent term and should be expunged and certainly not used by the people to whom it is used to refer.
    I think that you might be surprised by the great intelligence and creativity of the people from Sunderland and its environs.

  44. Hector – you beat me to it! People in glass houses etc.

    Anyway, back to the story……it is probably safe to assume that some of the production will go overseas, rather than just relying upon UK sales. In which case it will help the balance of trade figures. Infiniti models sell well here in the UAE, although they are regarded as “girls cars” so maybe some of the production from Washington/Sunderland/Newcastle/London (if you’re Ryanair) will even come here.

  45. @Lloyd,

    Thanks for your comments. I agree that the government (present and past) has done nothing of substance to help the car industry (I guess as a consequence of BL’s bail-out), and now it will hold the EU as being responsible for this lack of support for the industry.

    Once thing I will say, MG hasn’t had a penny off the government since the administration back in 2005. Shame all round, as it’s clear that the French government is more than prepared to bail out its own ailing carmakers (well, it has confirmmed that when PSA needs bailing out, it will do so)…

  46. If anyone is interested, the JOB 1 Bluebird at Sunderland Museum is a white 2.0SGX 105bhp(?)which was built in the Spring of 1986 before Margaret Thatcher opened the plant in Sept 86. The first Bluebird’s were all saloons and the hatchbacks were added in 1987.

    I’m sure the Infiniti proposed will be a nice car and wish it well. If I were spending that amount of money though, I would probably still opt for a Jag.

  47. Assembling Nissans in the UK probably does for Nissan what assembling cars in Britain Does for MG. In NZL I have seen more than one Nissan primera(used Jap import?) for example with a union jack on the front guards, presumably this is telling the Asian buyers they are buying a British car (even though its made by Nissan). presumably Nissan do some development in the UK like many other makers do. alex

  48. To compare what Nissan do in the UK with what MG do is very misleading. Nissan is complete manufacturing. It is predicted that the Nissan factory in England (I think we can agree on that!) will produce more cars than Italy. That says more about the decline of Italian car manufacture, actually, but the Nissan UK operation is a serious car manufacturing operation. If it had a British name over the door, everyone on this site would be praising it to the rooftops.

    I think Infiniti will do well in Europe. They’re not sponsoring Red Bull Racing and using the World Champion driver in marketing for nothing. They are serious.

  49. I behind a Infiniti last night in Bury replete with *** KEN cherished transfer(says it all)finished in white,a M30 sd or whatever cant remember,noticed too many chrome appliques adorn no plate area,i thought it was a Roewe or great wall until i seen the infiniti badge,i’d bet a year salary that if it did have MG badges most posts would be “oh chinese shit”.

  50. Pedants. Don’tcha’just hate ’em? North Sunderland is, of course, up in Northumberland, miles away from any part of the mighty Tyne & Wear conurbation.
    Didn’t Ford blackmail an incoming UK government with: “build us a factory in Speke (? for the Jags) or we’ll build it in Czecho”? And weren’t Ford one of those lobbying hard so’s not to have government money given to MG Rover (and probably BMW before them and maybe LDV after). Bloody Yanks. It’s business. That’s all. Profit and a political photo opportunity. You, me, people – we don’t matter. Corporations have more power than governments, even the U.S. one. I didn’t vote for New Labour but I don’t have any chance to vote on Ford…hmm, unless, yes…I could just choose not to give them my money. Any of it. That’s the only democracy we have left.
    Geordies and Makems (the term is, I believe, from the great engineering and shipbuilding days of yore) – indistinguishable if you live outside the area, entirely distinct from within. I love regional differences, traditions and accents. Good for Washington, good for Sunderland!

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