THE NORTH East motor industry is hitting the fast lane.
The new North East Automotive Alliance (NEAA) brings together major names including Nissan, Nifco, Komatsu, Sevcon and Hyperdrive, with smaller firms in the supply chain to help make the most of an industry which is already worth £7billion a year in sales to the region.
“It is a big global industry and the North East should be really trying to get more business.”Kevin Fitzpatrick, Nissan’s Vice President for Manufacturing in the UK
As well as working to attract new business and investment to the region, the alliance will focus on boosting skills to replace the 8,500 experienced workers set to retire across the North East in the next decade and improving co-operation between firms.
The NEAA was officially launched at Nissan’s Sunderland plant. Kevin Fitzpatrick, Nissan’s Vice President for Manufacturing in the UK, will chair the new body.
It would be driven by the companies involved and target the areas they regarded as important, he said: “Within the alliance we are setting up work streams with leaders, but it is all membership-led. Companies, maybe five or six of them, will collaborate on an activity.
“It is about them improving their businesses themselves. It is not about the cluster providing experts – they are the experts.
“It is a big global industry and the North East should be really trying to get more business.
“There is an opportunity out there. The European car industry volume is about 17million a year – there is a lot of business out there for them to go and grab.”
Shadow business minister Iain Wright MP said: “I think this is hugely important. The automotive industry is a big success story for the UK but actually it is a massive success story for the North East as well.
“One in three cars built in the UK is built at this plant here in Sunderland and the supply chain, supplying components and different parts to the automotive industry, is just as important to the North East.”
NEAA members will have access to a comprehensive website with a dedicated members’ area to share knowledge, information and collaborative projects.
Regional events, workshops and newsletters will also connect members to potential funds and keep them up-to-date on developments in the industry.