The next-generation Nissan Juke will continue to be built in Sunderland, the company has confirmed, and will form part of an extra £100 million funding plan for the factory.
Nissan says that securing Juke production at Sunderland beyond 2020 has secured the jobs of 34,000 people both within the company and in the wider supply chain.
Nissan's European boss Paul Wilcox said: "With the next generation Juke now confirmed for future production, customers can be assured that Nissan is going to remain the benchmark in the crossover segment for many years to come.
“This announcement also gives security to our Sunderland plant beyond 2020, which the team has earned through many years of hard work and their ability to continually raise the bar on quality.”
Chancellor George Osborne praised the announcement, saying: "It’s fantastic news that Nissan will be building their new car here in Sunderland and securing valuable jobs for thousands of working people in the area.
“Our ambitious plan to build the Northern Powerhouse means building on the area’s strengths – including manufacturing - and this announcement is an important sign of Britain being chosen as a global leader in car production.”
The next Juke is due to go on sale late next year and will focus more on technology and interior quality than radical exterior restyling.
The Juke is largely credited with creating the burgeoning small crossover segment and has already had a subtle mid-life facelift that brought more safety kit, a new small turbocharged petrol engine and a wider range of personalisation options.
However, the existing car sits on the Renault-Nissan Alliance’s relatively elderly B0 platform and it faces ever stiffening competition as more manufacturers enter this area of the market. The Volkswagen Group, for instance, is expected to start launching its first small crossovers within the next 18 months.
The new Juke will switch to the CMF-B underpinnings also destined for the next Nissan Micra and next Renault Clio. This architecture brings improvements in production efficiency that will allow Nissan to ramp up the existing rate of 150,000 cars per year at its Sunderland plant.
It also offers considerable savings through economies of scale, which will free up money for Nissan to invest in the Juke’s weakest point: the perceived quality of its cabin.
“Customers tell us that the Juke still looks fresh,” a senior Nissan source told Autocar. “So we don’t think the exterior styling really needs a major update. The gains will come through more efficient engines, better refinement and improvements in key areas of the interior.”
However, a bold concept car that pushes the Juke’s design further is expected in the next year to gauge public reaction.
The increased commonality with the Micra is likely to mean that the next Juke will get 1.0-litre three-cylinder engines for the first time.
The two models will go their separate ways on performance models, though. There’s likely to be another Juke Nismo but not a Micra Nismo.
Get the latest car news, reviews and galleries from Autocar direct to your inbox every week. Enter your email address below: