Tony O'Kane | Jun 5, 2008

Nissan have just made a rather cryptic announcement concerning the creation of a new vehicle that will be built at the company's Sunderland plant in England. Their press release (which you can read at the end of this article) mentions everything but what the vehicle in question is called, let alone what it will be. What they do say, however, is that it will be "an addition to the current Nissan range". They also mention it will be a compact car and that it will be in some way "innovative".

Just from looking at the above concept sketch (concept doodle, really), I'm gunna go out on a limb and guess that it might, just might be the budget RWD sportscar that Nissan is supposed to be developing. The profile is distinctly sporty with a rear-cab design and prominent wheelarches that are reminiscent of the 350Z. The shoulderline is high, and carries a 240-esque 'kink' just before the C-pillar - a feature that we recently saw on the new 370Z prototype - while the roofline is evocative of the R35 GT-R. Production is set to start in 2010, which - coincidence or not - is also the same year Nissan's low-cost RWD sportscar is expected to go on sale.

Nissan also say that whatever it is, it'll be "innovative". Now I don't know about you, but I'm pretty sure a cheap ($20,000-$30,000) compact RWD sportscar would innovate the hell out of a global car market that's currently devoid of such a thing. Build it Nissan, I implore you.

Anyway, is this all just wishful thinking, or could I possibly be right? It could, after all, just be the new Micra, but then again that car already occupies a spot in Nissan's lineup and this mystery car is meant to be something different. We'll have to wait and see, but pending further confirmation I'm going to be keeping my fingers and toes firmly crossed.

Press Release

NISSAN ANNOUNCES NEW VEHICLE FOR SUNDERLAND PLANT

LONDON, Tuesday 3rd June, 2008 - Nissan Motor Co., Ltd., today announced that it will source an innovative all-new compact car from its Sunderland plant in the United Kingdom (UK), starting in 2010. Building on the success of the Qashqai, the all-new product will reinforce Sunderland's role as manufacturer and exporter of high-value products.

The decision was announced following a visit today by the British Prime Minister, the Right Honorable Gordon Brown, to Nissan's European Design Centre in central London where he met Carlos Ghosn, President and CEO, Nissan Motor Co.

The Prime Minister said, "Nissan is a global manufacturer with strong roots in Britain and I'm pleased to welcome Nissan's new investment in the UK. Today's announcement that a brand new car is to be designed and built in the UK is another important boost to our manufacturing industry, and builds upon Nissan's recent commitments to increase investment and jobs at its record breaking Sunderland plant.

"Sunderland's success shows what an innovative, talented and highly committed workforce can achieve, and reaffirms the UK's position as a strong player in the global car industry," he added.

Carlos Ghosn said, "By delivering on tough commitments, our employees at Sunderland have demonstrated our plant can be a globally competitive centre for the production of high-value products. We are encouraged by the proactive support shown by the British government to decide new products for the Sunderland plant."

The all-new vehicle will be an addition to the current Nissan range and for the Sunderland plant, and it will take up the manufacturing capacity created when production of the current version of the Micra ends in 2010.

Next generation Micra

Nissan will compete in the entry-car market with a dedicated new A platform that will be used for at least three models, including the next generation of Micra, and will be built in five Leading Competitive Countries (LCCs).

Production sites for this family of compact cars will include the new plant in Chennai, India, being constructed by the Renault-Nissan Alliance. The development of a competitive A platform is one of several business breakthroughs announced as part of Nissan GT 2012, the company's new five-year business plan.

The Nissan plant in Sunderland produced a record 374,000 vehicles in fiscal year 2007. Nissan is the largest vehicle exporter from the UK, with around 80% of production sold outside of the country. Together with the engine assembly plant and other facilities, Sunderland currently employs 4,700 workers.

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