- Europe’s best-seller given premium upgrades
- Self-driving feature to follow in 2018
- Better cabin, improved performance, promised
SUNDERLAND, England – Production of an updated version of Nissan’s Qashqai has started here in north-east England with, the automaker says, “a raft of premium design, technology and performance improvements” for what is Europe’s best-selling crossover.
Changes include a new exterior design, better cabin quality and road performance, and “intelligent mobility” technology.
From early 2018 this Qashqai will join other Nissan products with the brand’s ProPilot autonomous driving system to control steering, acceleration and braking within a driver-selected and well-demarcated lane on highways to ease the stress of heavy traffic and permit high-speed cruising.
Basically, that means a combination of automated lane-following and cruise control – each available in production vehicles for some time now. The first non-automated models will be in UK showrooms in August 2017.
MOST SUCCESSFUL MODEL
Extra production capacity was introduced in 2016 at the Nissan complex in Sunderland to enable the Qashqai to be assembled “around the clock” on two production lines. It is Britain’s best-selling vehicle and is exported to around 100 European and global markets – including South Africa.
It claims to be Nissan’s most successful model yet in Europe.
Colin Lawther, Nissan Europe’s senior vice-president for manufacturing, told Carman’s Corner in a media release from the UK: “The Qashqai is the original urban crossover and remains the undisputed leader in the segment.
“We’ve assembled more than 2.8-million in Sunderland over the past 10 years but this latest model is a new chapter for Qashqai and for our manufacturing operation.”
Though assembly is in Sunderland there are three satellite operations across England, the whole employing more than 40 000 people (a cautionary tale for those in government in South Africa not to mess with auto production here) using the equivalent of R68-billion in capital investment and R41-billion a year through British suppliers, service and wages.
The Sunderland plant, the biggest auto plant in British history, also assembles the all-electric Leaf, the Juke crossover and sister company Infiniti’s Q30 and QX30.
SEVEN YEARS OF GLOBAL SALES
Total production in 2016 was 507 436 at Nissan Sunderland and, the automaker told The Corner, “reached the milestones of one then two million units faster than any vehicle in the history of the UK automotive industry”. Three million is expected to be reached in record time, too.
The first-generation Nissan Qashqai went on sale in 2007. This new version will be “a major refresh” for the second-generation model launched in 2014.
It will be in showrooms across Europe in August 2017. We’ve asked Nissan SA for details about local launch.