The factory saw off competition from across Europe to secure the £200m investment. PM Gordon Brown visited the plant this week with Business Secretary Lord Mandelson. The sector is plagued with negative headlines about job cuts, falling sales and bankruptcies. Nissan's Sunderland factory suffered 1,200 job losses in January after a sales slump.
- The reaction?
Media coverage was overwhelmingly positive. Not only is the company bringing new jobs to the North East, but the investment is in PR-friendly 'green' technology. Brown and Mandelson were keen to latch on to the story and announced the region would become Britain's second low-carbon economic area. 'Hugely significant' and 'great news for the local economy', said Brown.
- Who are the PR players?
Gabi Whitfield is communications director for Nissan in Britain, and the Government ensured it squeezed as much positive PR out of the announcement as possible.
- What next?
The UK automotive industry is not out of the woods by any stretch of the imagination, with the fate of Jaguar Land Rover and Vauxhall still to be decided. Nissan's investment in green battery technology has been seen as a show of confidence in UK manufacturing, but is it a precursor to building electric cars in this country? The Government wants to turn Britain into the 'green car capital of Europe' and will need Nissan and other manufacturers to stump up more cash to make that a reality.