Nissan announced today that a new compact-crossover vehicle will be built at its car plant in Sunderland, UK from 2007.

The new car, codenamed P32L, is based on the Qashqai concept car unveiled at last year’s Geneva Motor Show.  This crossover vehicle, part people-carrier, part hatchback with available all-wheel drive, safeguards around 1,000 jobs at Sunderland and will create an additional 200 posts following close after the mini-MPV announcement, and represents a total UK investment of around £223m, including £5m of Regional Selective Assistance awarded by the Department of Trade and Industry.

The new model will go into production in December 2006 and on sale beginning in 2007.  Initial production volume will be around 130,000 units per year. This would increase the plant’s total annual volume to around 400,000 units – strengthening Sunderland’s position as the UK’s biggest car plant.

Nissan also unveiled its new Navara Crew Cab pick-up and the Zaroot concept SUV which will be unveiled to the public at the Geneva Motor Show on 1 March. Nissan also showed a production-ready version of its Pathfinder SUV which is due to go on sale in March.

As well as the Tone, the P32L will join Nissan’s Micra, Micra C+C and the Primera on the Sunderland production lines which build around 320,000 vehicles a year and is recognised as Europe’s most efficient car factory.

Nissan believes the new model will fill a growing niche in the car market for vehicles designed to live a dual life. Qashqai, pronounced “Cash-Ky”, is aimed at young professional people who enjoy living and working in the city during the week but who want to escape at the weekend.

Nissan Design Europe (NDE), which was responsible for designing Qashqai, is one of the company’s design ‘think-tanks’ dedicated to developing future generations of advanced designs for European markets. It combines the sleek lines of a sporting hatchback with the attitude and authenticity of a serious 4×4.