The company that makes it might be Japanese, but the genre-defining Nissan Qashqai is a Great British success story on multiple levels. It is built in Sunderland, of course, but it was also designed and developed in the UK – and is a permanent fixture on the list of best-selling cars.
So the news today that both the Qashqai and the smaller Juke will continue to be built in Sunderland as they undergo the seismic shift to electric power is hugely significant, not least because it secures long-term futures for the 6000 or so employees of Nissan’s Sunderland plant and tens of thousands of jobs in firms that supply it.
While Nissan had already made a substantial investment in readying its UK plant for an electric future with the Leaf successor due in 2026, there were no guarantees: there’s a bidding war going on as governments race to secure electric car and battery production, and the high-skilled ‘green’ jobs they generate. Nissan could easily have found a better offer to build the next-gen Qashqai and Juke EVs elsewhere. While Nissan officials were clear the huge investment figure announced today doesn’t involve any government money, it’s clear that support from Westminster was likely vital to the deal.
Still, it’s worth celebrating just how much Nissan has invested in the UK: Alan Johnson, the firm’s European manufacturing chief, notes that Britain is the only country outside of Japan in which the firm has the capacity to style, develop and manufacture cars – with the Qashqai being the prime example of that.
So this deal isn’t just a win for Sunderland: it’s big news for Nissan’s technical centre in Cranfield, and its styling studio in London – and huge vote of confidence in the British car industry’s ability to excel in all aspects of car development.
A few years ago, the UK car industry was facing difficult times approaching the electric transition. But now: Stellantis electric vans in Luton, electric Minis in Oxford, Tata batteries that will go in future UK-built Jaguar Land Rover EVs in Somerset, and now three Nissan EVs in Sunderland – headlined by the most significant car in the country.
The Qashqai is a Great British success story – and the next generation could be a symbol of the continued strength of our car industry.