The North East’s first Automotive Expo demonstrated the strength of the region’s automotive industry when it works together.
That was the verdict from Lawrence Davies, of the Automotive Investment Organisation, who attended the Stadium of Light event to talk about the £4billion reshaping of the automotive supply chain.
The North East Automotive Alliance (NEAA), which organised the show, was the kind of organisation the region had been crying out for, said Mr Davies.
“I think it is what the North East has been waiting for for a long time,” he said.
“It needed an organisation to pull all the different parts of the industry together. An organisation like the North East Automotive Alliance will really make things work.
“An event like this can attract the Lears, the Unipreses, the TRWs to come together and show what the region can do.”
This is an extremely important initiative for the automotive industry and it demonstrates the impact it has had regionally.Coun Paul Watson
The low-carbon enterprise zone was a sign of the shape of things to come for the indsutry: “There will be a technology hub for the region and my view is that hub can be electric vehicles,” said Mr Davies.
“There are some great statistics already. Twenty-six per cent of all electric vehicle production in Europe is here in Sunderland.”
There was a full house at the Stadium of Light for the Meet the Buyer event, with delegates representing buyers and suppliers taking advantage of more than 150 one-to-one meetings and networking opportunities.
Northern Powerhouse minster James Wharton was among the event’s invited speakers.
City council leader Coun Paul Watson said attendance at the show – which attracted more than 350 companies – demonstrated the vital importance of the automotive industry not just to Sunderland but to the wider North East.
“It is a phenomenal turn-out,” he said.
“This is an extremely important initiative for the automotive industry and it demonstrates the impact it has had regionally.”
NEAA chief executive Paul Butler was delighted with the response from the industry: “The Expo has been extremely well received. It’s fantastic to see so much support for what in effect is our first event and it’s something we hope to build on year-on-year.
“It’s about connecting North East businesses, helping companies identify products and services currently sourced outside of the North East and matching them up with suppliers that they don’t know exist in the region.”