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Nissan workforce granted Freedom of the City of Sunderland

SUNDERLAND, UK. (September 8, 2017) – The entire Nissan Sunderland Plant workforce has been awarded with the Honorary Freedom of Sunderland, in recognition of its “outstanding contribution to the wellbeing and community spirit of the city”.


Representatives of the plant’s 7,000 employees were presented with the honour by the Mayor of the City of Sunderland at a special meeting of the City Council at Sunderland Civic Centre. The ceremony took place on the same day that Nissan announced that the Sunderland Plant will start production of the new Nissan LEAF by the end of the year. In November last year, the council announced that all staff at the plant would be granted the Freedom after it successfully secured the future production of the next generation Qashqai and X-Trail models. Nissan started production in Sunderland in 1986 since when it has produced 9.2 million vehicles, exporting to more than 130 markets globally, becoming the largest car plant in the history of the UK automotive industry.


Kevin Fitzpatrick, Nissan Divisional Vice President, European Manufacturing, said: “I speak for the whole plant when I say how proud we are to receive this honour from Sunderland City Council.


“For three decades Nissan and the City of Sunderland have worked hand in hand, creating a leading global automotive centre.


“Central to that has been the ingenuity, quality and commitment of our workforce – so many of whom were born and bred close to our factory.”


Driven by the success of Nissan’s Qashqai and Juke crossovers, output at Nissan’s Sunderland plant has exceeded 500,000 vehicles for four of the past five years, with its model line-up also including the all-electric Nissan LEAF and the premium Infiniti Q30 and QX30. In total, Nissan supports 40,000 UK jobs in design, engineering, manufacturing and sales and marketing.


Joining Kevin Fitzpatrick at the ceremony yesterday (September 7) were Colin Lawther, Nissan Senior Vice President for Manufacturing, Purchasing and Supply Chain Management in Europe, and Trevor Mann, now Chief Operating Officer at Mitsubishi Motors – who was personally awarded the Freedom of the City in 2014. All three were part of the original workforce at the plant’s inception.


Paul Watson, Leader of Sunderland City Council, said: “Sunderland City Council is delighted to bestow the Nissan workforce with the Freedom of the City. Each and every member of staff has played a great part in transforming the city and the region’s economy. It is only right that we recognise this contribution and celebrate the successes that the people of Sunderland, and the North East have helped achieve.”





Nissan has one of the most comprehensive European presences of any overseas manufacturer, employing more than 17,000 staff across locally-based design, research & development, manufacturing, logistics and sales & marketing operations. Last year Nissan plants in the UK, Spain and Russia produced more than 640,000 vehicles including award-winning crossovers, commercial vehicles and the Nissan LEAF, the world’s most popular electric vehicle. Nissan’s Intelligent Mobility vision is designed to guide Nissan’s product and technology pipeline and this 360 degree approach to the future of mobility will anchor critical company decisions around how cars are powered, how cars are driven, and how cars integrate into society. Nissan is positioned to become the most desirable Asian brand in Europe.


  • Nissan Sunderland Plant produces the Nissan Qashqai, Juke, Infiniti Q30 and the 100% electric Nissan LEAF
  • Production of lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles began in 2012
  • Total plant volume since 1986 stands at more than 9 million units with 80 per cent of production exported to over 100 markets worldwide
  • Total investment made and announced since then is over £4.0 billion
  • 507,436 units were produced at Sunderland plant in 2016
  • Employment in Nissan’s UK design studio (Paddington, London), technical centre (Cranfield Bedfordshire), manufacturing plant (Sunderland, Tyne and Wear) and sales and marketing operations (Maple Cross, Hertfordshire) now totals more than 8,000.
  • A further 28,000 jobs in Nissan’s UK supply chain and 4,000 in its UK dealer network takes the total British jobs supported by Nissan to more than 40,000
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