Expertise of car firms including Nissan to be pooled to boost North East economy

Nissan's Sunderland production line.
Nissan's Sunderland production line.
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A GROUP which will champion Wearside’s motor-making skills set off on its first journey today.

Sunderland-based North East Automotive Alliance (NEAA) has brought together some of the industry’s major names, including Nissan, Nifco, Komatsu, Sevcon and Hyperdrive.

We are proud that the NEAA has set up its headquarters in Sunderland, which is at the centre of the region’s automotive industry.

Sunderland City Council leader Paul Watson

Today’s launch at Nissan saw Kevin Fitzpatrick, chairman of NEAA and the company’s vice-president for manufacturing in the UK, Lawrence Davies, deputy chief executive of the Automotive Investment Organisation, Hartlepool MP Iain Wright, Paul Butler, chief executive officer of NEAA, and Councillor Paul Watson, leader of Sunderland City Council, gather to outline their vision.

It has already carried out research into the scale and importance of the sector to the region, which sees 26,000 people employed in its factories and offices, and impacts on another 141,000 jobs, with the potential to create a further 10,000 more jobs in the next decade.

The industry generates £7billion in sales for the North East and is responsible for £5.1billion in exports and creates a £2.6billion trade surplus annually.

In the last five years, £1billion-plus has been invested into 21 projects in the North East.

NEAA says its tasks will include filling the skills gap to be left by the 8,500 people due to retire during the next 10 years, understanding the region’s capabilities and gaps in the supply chain; sharing best practice; a look at innovation and technology and promotion of the North East’s automotive excellence to the global market.

It will also work to attract more firms to the region.

Coun Watson, said: “We are proud that the NEAA has set up its headquarters in Sunderland, which is at the centre of the region’s automotive industry.

“In addition to the Nissan factory, Sunderland has a vigorous and growing automotive supply chain.

“We would urge companies in the sector, both in the city and across the region, to take advantage of the huge benefits that membership of the cluster looks set to bring for individual businesses and the North East economy as a whole.”