By Daniel Hunter

Nissan has revealed a new hatchback concept previewing the company’s vision for an all-new compact car to be launched in 2013.

Called INVITATION, the dynamic concept car was unveiled today at the Geneva Motor Show by Nissan Executive Vice President, Andy Palmer, who announced a production version will be launched at Nissan’s Sunderland Plant next year.

In addition to vehicle assembly — Sunderland will carry out axle production, cylinder head casting, camshaft machining and engine assembly, representing an overall investment of £125 million by Nissan in the UK.

The project is also supported by a £9.3m investment grant offer from the government’s Regional Growth Fund.

It is anticipated the new model will have an initial annual volume of around 100,000 units depending on market demand. This will help to cement Sunderland as the largest car plant in the UK — a position it has held for the last 14 years.

“Nissan’s commitment to manufacture the all-new Invitation at its Sunderland plant is another vote of confidence in the UK auto industry and excellent news for the broader economy,” said Paul Everitt, Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) Chief Executive.

"The UK remains a globally competitive base for automotive manufacturing with its highly-skilled, flexible workforce and advanced productivity levels continuing to attract major international investment. Growth in manufacturing is leading the current recovery and clearly demonstrating the benefits of a rebalanced economy.”

In 2011, the plant’s 25th Anniversary year, Sunderland set a new production record with more than 480,000 units rolling off the lines.

As well as playing a key role in Nissan’s market expansion within Europe, the new model will also have a significant benefit in terms of jobs with around 2,000 new posts created at Nissan and amongst its UK supplier base.

This includes 400 new Nissan hires at the Sunderland Plant increasing its overall workforce to around 6,000 — its highest ever.

“This plant has a 20-year heritage in producing successful compact cars stretching back to the first Micra rolling off the line in 1992," Trevor Mann, Nissan Senior Vice President for Manufacturing in Europe, said.

“I’m delighted that Sunderland has secured what will be another very important model for Nissan in Europe. It is a testament to the workforce, the ongoing support from the UK government and all of our regional partners and suppliers.

“The additional volume will maintain Sunderland as the country’s largest car plant and we expect and look forward to a very busy future.”

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