Sunderland car parts plant announces £15million expansion

Mike O'Neill and Paul Willson of TRW Sunderland with Councillor Harry Trueman, Deputy Leader of Sunderland City Council
Mike O'Neill and Paul Willson of TRW Sunderland with Councillor Harry Trueman, Deputy Leader of Sunderland City Council
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A CAR parts firm has announced a £15million investment in its Sunderland plant after a successful Regional Growth Fund (RGF) bid.

The investment – underpinned by £1.75million from the RGF – will fund two new lines and enable TRW to build the next generation of power steering motors for global customers from its Houghton factory.

The company, which employs 250 people, also announced that it has won Renault as a customer following the confirmation of the investment, and that it is growing its business with General Motors.

Maciej Gwozdz, TRW’s European Operations Director for Steering announced the investment on the shopfloor to the plant’s 250 employees.

He said: “This investment underpins the long-term future of the Sunderland plant and means we can invest in innovative technology to build more efficient low carbon systems for automotive manufacturers.”

American-owned TRW’s Sunderland plant currently produces power steering motors for VW, GM and Ford, with smaller contracts with Fiat and Volvo.

As some of these contracts are now nearing completion the company has been working hard to win new international customers, with significant success.

The two new lines and platforms for Renault and GM will replace two of the existing lines, and bring “cutting-edge” technology to the plant.

TRW will produce more efficient, compact motors on the new lines to suit future needs of its customers. The first line will be installed in 2013 and the second will be in place by the end of 2014.

Paul Willson, plant controller at TRW’s Sunderland plant, said: “We’re delighted with this major investment in our facilities. It means we can secure international customers such as Renault and GM and begin to look at other opportunities with the new products.

“We’re also proud that we’re achieving success in new markets - for example supplying motor companies in China from Sunderland to complement the work of TRW Asia Pacific. We just wouldn’t be able to do this without the valued commitment of our workforce. We have a fantastic team here at Sunderland whose productivity is a vital part of our future success.”

Sunderland City Council’s business investment team worked with TRW on the successful RGF submission and supported the company to help it develop a laboratory.

Mr Willson said: “We’re developing electric motors and it was critically important to us to be able to look at current technology, assess gaps in the marketplace and develop products for new applications to fill that gap.

“With the city council’s much-valued support we’ve been able to build our R&D resources, and we’re already having some success in developing new products. We’ve got the ideas and the ability to develop innovative products, which differentiate us from our competitors and have already generated significant interest from our customers.”

Councillor Harry Trueman, Deputy Leader of Sunderland City Council added: “TRW is a global leader in the automotive industry, and we’ve supported the company since it set up in Sunderland.

“Its successful RGF bid has led to confirmation of a £15million investment, which is the best possible news for the city and wider region.

“Our support for TRW’s R&D facilities will reinforce its ability to compete for and win global contracts, which are key to its future.”