Nissan, which expects initially to produce about 100,000 a year of the new Invitation model, already makes its Qashqai and Juke models in Sunderland, the largest car factory in Britain, where it produces around 500,000 vehicles annually.
The British government has been seeking to save automotive jobs as the European sector braces for capacity cuts. The small car segment in Europe, where competition is fierce and capacity bloated, is seen as the prime target for cuts.
Volkswagen's upmarket Audi business, meanwhile, expects to grow faster than the 4 per cent figure predicted for the global market, according to sales chief Peter Schwarzenbauer.
"We believe we can do better than that," Schwarzenbauer said. "Effects from weakening markets in southern Europe should be well compensated for."
Audi believes demand for luxury vehicles in China, where it is market leader, will continue to expand in coming years. The Chinese luxury market could more than double to 2.3 million cars by 2020 from 945,000 last year, Schwarzenbauer said.
Audi sold more than 200,000 vehicles in the first two months of the year, a record for the company.
The Volkswagen group's namesake VW brand saw record sales in the first two months of the year, up 8 per cent.
GM's Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid was named European Car of the Year in Geneva, showing low-emission technology had won over the experts.
However, consumer approval is proving more elusive: earlier this month the carmaker said it was halting production of the plug-in hybrid and laying off 1,300 workers for five weeks this spring, to control stocks of the vehicle in the face of disappointing demand.