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These are all the cars Nissan has produced in Sunderland

Nissan has made a range of models at the plant over the past decades


Nissan has today (November 24) announced that it will build three new electric cars at its Sunderland factory, as part of a £2bn investment.

The Tyne and Wear Plant is the largest car factory in the UK, producing 238,000 models in 2022, just shy of a third of all cars made in Britain last year.

The three new EVs will be next-generation versions of the firm’s popular Qashqai and Juke crossovers, along with a new version of the current electric Leaf, which is expected to evolve into a crossover. But what else has been produced in Sunderland over the years? Let’s take a look.

Nissan Bluebird (1986-1990)

The Bluebird was the first Nissan to be made in Sunderland. (Nissan)

Nissan became the first Japanese carmaker to establish a manufacturing facility in Europe when it began production of the Bluebird in 1986. Then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher even opened the facility – demonstrating just what a milestone it was. It was built in the North East until 1990.

In 2021, to mark 35 years of the plant, Nissan kitted out a classic Bluebird (pictures) with the powertrain from its latest electric Leaf.

Nissan Primera (1990-2007)

The Primera was one of Nissan’s longest-serving models at Sunderland. (Nissan)

Following the end of Bluebird production, Nissan started its second phase with the introduction of the Primera in 1990. This was another practical family car and one that really helped Nissan to grow, as by 1991, 100,000 had been produced. A second-generation Primera would be introduced in 1996, followed by an estate model in 1998.

A far more modern model came along in 2001, showcasing a new design direction for Nissan. Primera production would continue until 2007 when it would be discontinued so the firm could ramp up assembly of its new Qashqai.

Nissan Micra (1992-2010)

The Micra was always a popular choice during its production. (Nissan)

While the Micra had been around for more than a decade earlier, in 1992 it was introduced to Sunderland. This was the first time the plant had produced two cars simultaneously.

The Micra was a popular choice at the time, and across two generations, more than 2.3m examples of this supermini were built. Nissan even built the oddball C+C convertible model at the plant. Production was moved away from the UK in 2010 to make way for the new Juke.

Nissan Almera (2000-2006)

The Almera had quite a short stint at Nissan.

Sunderland became a three-model plant for the first time in 2000 when production started of the Almera. This is an often-forgotten model in Nissan’s history but was a rival for cars like the Ford Focus and Vauxhall Astra at the time. The Almera was dropped in 2006 to make way for the Qashqai as well.

Nissan Note (2006-2017)

The Note was a compact MPV that was first introduced to Sunderland in 2006. (Nissan)

Before crossovers became as popular as they are today, small MPVs were very in demand. Nissan’s effort was the boxy Note, which offered only a slightly larger footprint than a Micra but with a lot more space.

Production of the Note started in 2006, with a second-generation model following in 2013. It was discontinued quite early in 2017 amid falling sales for vehicles of this type.

Infiniti Q30 (2015-2019)

Nissan’s premium arm Infiniti also produced cars at the plant before pulling out of Europe. (Infiniti)

It hasn’t just been Nissan-badged models rolling off the production line in Sunderland, but also those from Infiniti. This is Nissan’s premium division, in a similar way to what Lexus is to Toyota, with production of the Q30 – a family hatchback made from various Mercedes parts – starting in 2015 after a lot of investment.

The Q30, along with its crossover twin QX30 also produced in Sunderland, always sold in fairly small numbers, particularly next to rivals like the Mercedes A-Class. Production of these ended in 2019 as Infitini withdrew from the European market.

Nissan Qashqai (2006-present)

The Qashqai has been the most popular car ever produced in Sunderland. (Nissan)

Undoubtedly the most important car in the history of the Sunderland plant is the Qashqai. This was the first proper ‘crossover’, and helped to establish what is now the most popular type of new car.

Now in its third generation, around 3.8 million examples have been produced, accounting for the largest chunk of vehicles made at the plant. The Qashqai remains hugely popular and was the UK’s best-selling car overall in 2022.

Nissan Juke (2010-present)

The Juke is one of Nissan’s core models. (Nissan)

Joining the Qashqai in 2010 was the smaller Juke crossover, which was also an immediate hit thanks to its bold and daring design. In the first year alone, more than 400,000 were produced.

Now in its second generation, the Juke continues to be a popular choice and is now available with a hybrid engine too.

Nissan Leaf (2013-present)

The Leaf introduced electrification to Sunderland back in 2013. (Nissan)

Another game-changing moment for Sunderland came in 2013 with production of the Nissan Leaf beginning – the first mass-market electric car that was the UK’s most popular electric car for almost a decade.

This helped to establish Sunderland as an innovator when it came to electric cars, which continues today with the most recent announcement. While the Leaf is currently a hatchback, it’s expected to evolve into a crossover when a replacement arrives in the next few years.

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