The British birthplace of the Nissan Qashqai is 30 years old

Nissan’s European R&D centre in Cranfield is 30 years old this month, and to mark the occasion, the firm has revealed that it’s been responsible for launching a total of 32 models in Europe since opening its doors – more than one a year.

Famously the birthplace of the groundbreaking Nissan Qashqai (which grew from a sketch created at Nissan’s London design studio in Paddington), the Nissan Technical Centre Europe (NTCE) was originally set up simply to provide technical support to the firm’s production plant in Sunderland.

It’s grown enormously in that time, and now ranks as a fully-fledged Nissan global development centre. Its latest project has been bringing the new Nissan Leaf to market – taking the Japanese model, honing it for Europe, then helping launch European production at Sunderland.

Orders of more than 35,000 cars, making the Leaf Europe’s fastest-selling electric vehicle, are another marker of Cranfield’s success.

Matthew Ewing, vice president of vehicle design and development at NTCE, said: “During the 30 years of NTCE, we have grown from a small team to over one thousand staff.

“Progressing from launch support and parts localisation, our engineers at NTCE now ensure the very specific European requirements are incorporated into all our models.”

Ewing added that Cranfield is also busily seeking the next generation of engineers. Through technical career promotion events in association with the UK’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) framework, several hundred local schoolchildren and youngsters in higher education have taken part.