Nissan has announced the latest stage of a £1 billion investment programme in its Sunderland production facility in preparation for building the next-generation Qashqai there.
This is a £52 million press to stamp panels for the third-generation crossover, which is expected to launch early next year. It brings the total investment in production of the new Qashqai to £400m, in anticipation of it retaining its status as one of the UK's best-selling cars.
The new press weighs a staggering 2000 tonnes and took 18 months to install. It's capable of producing 6.1 million vehicle panels each year, including for the latest Nissan Juke, and has the ability to separate and process scrap metal.
Today's announcement appears – initially, at least – to counter previous reports that Nissan would consider closing the factory if the UK leaves the European Union without a firm trade deal in place.
Nissan Sunderland was given assurances and financial assistance in 2016 from then-prime minister Theresa May, but the agreement was said to have been contingent on a 'soft' Brexit with a trade deal in place.
Official details of the new Qashqai are scarce, but Autocar understands that it will be revealed towards the end of this year and go on sale at the start of 2021.
Although based on an adapted version of the current model's CMF platform, it's set to make use of a new 'ePower' hybrid system as well as a plug-in hybrid powertrain and regular petrol engines. It's not yet clear if a diesel will also be offered.