NORTH East-based car producer Nissan has vowed to continue "breaking records" after one of its models topped a poll of best selling cars of 2012.
The Nissan Qashqai, which is made at the firm’s plant in Sunderland, was the sixth most popular car of last year according to figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).
Within the last 12 months, 45,675 Qashqais were bought by drivers in the UK, placing it alongside the Ford Fiesta, Vauxhall Corsa and VW Golf in the top 10 best-sellers.
Directors at Nissan have welcomed the boost in sales of the model and said the company hopes others, such as the Juke, also produced in Sunderland, will follow in its footsteps in future years.
Jim Wright, managing director at Nissan GB, said: “Despite an increasingly competitive market, 2012 was a record year for Nissan – and that’s something to be incredibly proud of. The Qashqai continues to be a runaway success and the Juke is more than following in its footsteps, showing that we are building exactly the right cars for our customers; cars that are innovative, exciting and for everyone.”
The Ford Fiesta was the best-selling car of 2012, with more than 109,000 models being bought, followed by the Vauxhall Corsa, Ford Focus, Vauxhall Astra, VW Golf, Nissan Qashqai, BMW 3 Series, VW Polo, Mercedes C-Class and BMW 1 Series.
It was a successful year for car sales with a recorded increase of 5.3% on 2011 and the highest since 2008.
Sales of new cars reached 2,044,609 over the year, with a 3.7% increase in December alone compared with the same month in 2011.
SMMT chief executive Paul Everitt said the new car market grew last year at the fastest rate for more than a decade, driven by innovative, fuel-efficient models.
The Qashqai stands out against its fellow front runners in the SMMT list being a crossover small SUV model compared to a standard saloon car.
Popularity for the Japanese car giant was reaffirmed in December when it was revealed new investment of more than £250m will be ploughed into the plant.
Nissan revealed it would create 280 jobs in the region and a further 720 in component companies to manufacture a new luxury car under the Infiniti brand.
It is the first time in nearly a quarter of a century that a new car brand has been launched in the UK, and sees Nissan’s Wearside operation reach a record output of 500,000 vehicles a year.
Mr Wright added: “Our manufacturing story is just as remarkable, with Nissan’s Sunderland production facility surging through the 500,000 unit barrier in 2012. We look forward to building on this success in 2013 with more new models, including the replacement for the Note. We intend to keep breaking records.”
The SMMT top 10 list has seen many models featured over the last 15 years. Cars such as the Ford Fiesta were as popular in 1993 as they are today.