Nissan to build new car in UK

Hundreds of new jobs are to be created after Japanese car giant Nissan confirmed it would build a new model in this country.

Nissan President Carlos Ghosn gave the good news to the Prime Minister, Tony Blair, at 10 Downing Street.

Mr Blair said it was "great news" for the country that the new Micra would be built at the Sunderland factory.

Mr Ghosn said £235 million would be invested in Sunderland, boosting production from 330,000 cars a year to 500,000. About 500 new jobs are expected to be created.

Production of the new car will begin in December 2002 and boost the position of the Sunderland factory, which already makes more cars than any other car plant in the country.

Mr Ghosn, who arrived in Downing Street in a chauffeur-driven Mercedes, said the company had chosen Sunderland ahead of a factory near Paris because of the commitment and performance of workers and management in Sunderland.

The North-East factory is the most productive car plant in Europe, with workers making more than 100 cars each a year.

Mr Ghosn also praised the Government, particularly Mr Blair and Trade and Industry Secretary Stephen Byers, for offering the company £40 million in grant aid.

The Nissan chief acknowledged that the process to choose between the two sites had been lengthy.

Mr Blair said the announcement was a "tremendous tribute" to the management and workers in Sunderland and added: "We are immensely proud.

"It is a great day for the North and a great day for the country. It shows that Britain is an attractive place for investors."

Mr Blair praised the productivity record of the Nissan workers at Sunderland, which he said was one of the prime reasons for the expansion.

Asked whether he had given any assurances to Nissan on how quickly Britain would join the euro, Mr Blair said he had simply stated the Government's position.

The investment will secure work in Sunderland for up to 10 years on the new model.

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