Factory owner: Nissan Motor Manufacturing UK (NMUK)
Factory status: Working
Built: Nov 1984 – Dec 1985 (Phase I)
NMUK’s factory in Washington, near Sunderland, is the most productive car assembly plant in Europe and the largest car assembly plant in the United Kingdom. The factory has never had an industrial dispute and in 2009 it built 270,000 cars for export as well as 68,000 cars for the UK market.
It started in the early 1980s, as shipyards and coalmines were closing in the North East of England, making both skilled an unskilled workers unemployed. In February 1984, Thatcher’s government signed a deal with Japanese car maker Nissan to build an assembly plant. In March, Nissan announced the plant would be located in Sunderland. As well as government intervention, good transport links and the region’s industrial heritage were reasons Nissan chose the area. The factory was built on a greenfield site between November 1984 and December 1985, and production of the Nissan Bluebird started in 1986. Plastic moulding was done on-site from June 1988, and engines from August that year. The Bluebird was replaced by the Primera in 1990, and Micra production started in 1992 with the Almera joining them in 2000. In April 1991, The SMMT awarded NMUK British Manufacturer status. In 2004, the one millionth car was built at the plant, and the following year six wind turbines were erected on site, estimated to generate 5% of electrical power required by the plant.
Today, NMUK produces 340,000 vehicles a year, employs over 4000 people directly, as well as providing an incentive for parts suppliers such as Valeo, Tacle, Calsonic Kansei, Hashimoto and Unipres to set up their own manufacturing facilities in the area. In March 2010, Nissan announced that the electric Nissan Leaf would be built at the plant, as well as the more conventional Nissan Juke.
Vehicles produced at Washington
- Nissan Juke
- Nissan Qashqai