NISSAN has released the first pictures of a new vehicle that will go into production in the North-East this summer.

About 400 jobs are being created at the firm’s Sunderland plant to make the next generation of the Nissan Note. Additionally, it is expected to create and support 1,600 jobs at the car manufacturer’s suppliers.

The Japanese company is investing £125m in the factory to produced up to 110,000 Notes every year.

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The compact hatchback will compete with the likes of the Ford Fiesta when it appears in forecourts on the autumn.

The project was backed with £9.3m from the Government’s Regional Growth Fund and it is the latest coup for Nissan Sunderland, which will start producing the all-electric Leaf from next month.

It recently opened a battery plant to work alongside the Leaf production line.

The new Note, which is based on the Invitation prototype model unveiled last March, will get its first public airing at next month’s Geneva Motor Show.

A spokesman said that a host of new features and improved styling meant that the new model was a significant step up on the original Note.

The highest specification models will boast safety features such as a device for alerting drivers to blind spots and a moving object detection system.

An onboard lane departure warning detects if the car is starting to drift out of its lane.

News of the new model comes as the Sunderland plant gears up for one of the biggest expansions in its 26-year history.

It recently launched a recruitment drive for experienced maintenance workers to fill roles including supervisors, engineers and team leaders.

The move follows the plant winning deals to make several new models, including the next generation Qashqai, the Leaf and a compact car under Nissan’s premium brand Infiniti.

The Infiniti model is expected to go into production in 2015 and create an additional 280 jobs at the North-East factory.

The Sunderland plant makes 34.8 per cent of the 1.46 million cars manufactured in the UK – and is nearly double the number produced by the next largest competitor, Land Rover.