Nissan will be shifting some production of its Qashqai compact vehicle in the United Kingdom to Russia, in line with a plan to increase annual production by 100% at the company's St Petersburg factory to 100,000 by 2014, according to Nissan's vice president of engineering Colin Lawther. The Russian nation is the biggest market for the vehicles manufactured at Nissan's Sunderland facility in northeast England.
The sales of the company's automobiles in Russia rose 73% in 2011 to slightly below 60,000 units. In 2011, the Sunderland plant rolled out 301,277 Qashqai units running three shifts at maximum capacity. In 2013, Nissan will begin the production of the Leaf electric vehicle for Europe in Sunderland on the same line as the Qashqai. The transfer of the Qashqai production will happen in two years, when the next-generation model is launched.
Lawther did not disclose information on how much production will be shifted to St Petersburg, which presently manufactures the Teana sedan, X-Trail medium SUV and Murano large SUV.
After 2014, the facility will also produce the replacement of the X-Trail previewed at the Geneva motor show by the Hi-Cross concept. All Qashqai models made in the Russian nation will be sold there, enabling Nissan to pass up on import tariffs. Lawther stated that they currently have a 30% handicap.
The Qashqai was the company's bestseller in Europe last year with volume of 216,970 units, an increase of 1.3% from the year before, based on the data from JATO Dynamics.
Additionally, Nissan manufactures the Note small minivan and the Juke small SUV in Sunderland. Last year, the facility rolled out 480,485 automobiles in total. The automaker will replace the Note in 2013 with a sleeker subcompact version founded on the Invitation concept displayed at the 2012 Geneva motor show. This replacement will also be built at Sunderland.