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NISSAN JUKE TO SAFEGUARD SUNDERLAND JOBS

Japanese carmaker Nissan has unveiled its new Juke crossover vehicle, which is part-sports car, part-SUV.

The vehicle will be built at the firm’s Sunderland plant in the north-east of England, and at Oppama in Japan.

Nissan says it has invested 60m euros (£53m) in Europe for the project, which it says will safeguard 1,000 posts in Sunderland and 2,000 supply chain jobs.

The car follows Nissan’s launch of its Qashqai crossover vehicle three years ago.

‘Manufacturing efficiency’

“We’ve had a fantastic track record of winning new models,” Trevor Mann, Nissan’s head of production in Europe, told the BBC.

“They’ve been won, not just on manufacturing efficiency, but also on total delivery cost – including parts and materials, logistics, taxes and duties, as well as the cost of sales.”

In June 2008 the Sunderland plant took on 800 new workers.

However, the global downturn meant that in January 2009 it was forced to shed 1,200 jobs.

Then in January 2010 it hired another 400 workers to work on the Qashqai car, to take the plant’s workforce to 4,200.

A spokesman at the Sunderland plant said the 1,000 jobs being safeguarded were those of staff who would work on the Juke model.

Return to profit

The new vehicle, which was created in Nissan centres in the UK and Japan, will go on sale in the UK in October.

The Juke announcement comes in the same week that Nissan reported a return to profit in the last three months of 2009.

It made a profit of 45bn yen ($500m, £320m) in the October to December period, compared with a loss of 83bn yen a year earlier.

The company sold 882,000 vehicles worldwide in the three-month period, a 20.6% increase on the previous year.

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