Nissan in jobs boost but GM fears mount

BRITAIN will build at least an extra 100,000 Nissan cars each year after the Japanese firm agreed to invest $200m (£127m) in its Sunderland site.

Production of the Invitation hatchback will begin in the middle of next year in a boost to the automotive industry, which is becoming more anxious over the future of General Motors’ plant in Ellesmere Port, near Merseyside, after a senior executive yesterday declined to provide solid reassurances publicly.

Nissan, run by Carlos Ghosn, said it will take on 600 staff in Sunderland, where it makes the Qashqai and Juke models, taking the total there to 6,000.

Japan’s second-largest carmaker, which is being supported by a £9.3m loan from Britain’s regional growth fund, expects the Invitation to create 2,000 jobs in-house and at suppliers.

Business secretary Vince Cable, at the Geneva motor show yesterday, said: “The investment is a boost for jobs at Nissan’s plant as well as the wider supply chain… Global vehicle manufacturers are beating a path to the UK’s door.”

Britain faces a battle, however, to persuade GM to keep its plant in Ellesmere Port beyond 2014. Yesterday vice-chairman Steve Girsky, a former Wall Street banker, said he had a viable plan for its loss-making European arm but gave few details.

“There’s uncertainty in the economic environment across Europe. That is what we have to live with and what we have to work our way through. Working together, we think we can get this done.”

Last night the Business Department declined to say if Cable had met GM executives in Geneva. It comes days after he flew to New York to make the case for Ellesmere Port to GM chief executive Dan Akerson.