Issue: Nov 2010


by James Hilton

Leading figures from the motor industry have backed Sunderland’s bid to grow its reputation as a hotspot for environmentally-friendly car production, at an event held in London this week.

Sunderland City Council has spelt out its plans for the development of its automotive industry, as part of the launch of its Economic Masterplan, which aims to set out how the city will develop and grow over the next 15 years.

The event, which was held in the Houses of Parliament, included speeches from Ian Lucas MP, Shadow Minister for Automotive and Aerospace together, with senior vice president of Nissan Europe, Trevor Mann, John Barnett Operations Manager, Calsonic Kansei and Colin Herron, visiting professor of Manufacturing at University of Sunderland as well as the UK’s leading expert on the motor industry, Professor Garel Rhys. Topics covered included how the city council has worked in partnership with Nissan and the cities automotive supply chain, and what local authorities and their partners in government and industry are doing to support the sustainable development of the industry.

The production of eco-friendly vehicles in the city has been boosted in recent months by Nissan’s announcement that its new environmentally friendly car, the Nissan Leaf, will be built at the company’s Sunderland-based plant. The city’s plans look to capitalise on this, and put Sunderland at the forefront of development in this area.

Trevor Mann, Senior Vice President Manufacturing, Nissan Europe said: “The North East has rightly identified the low carbon industry as a key area for sustainable growth and as you know has already made many important strides in this field.

“At Nissan we are committed to becoming a global leader in low carbon transport and appreciate the support we receive from Sunderland City Council.”


Council Leader, Councillor Paul Watson, said: “Sunderland continues to build upon its worldwide reputation as a centre for automotive manufacturing, currently being renowned as one of the fastest growing automotive cities in the UK.

“The intention we have, as part of the city’s Economic Masterplan, it to really push forward growth in the sector, and position Sunderland as the leading location for low carbon and electric vehicle development and production. We really do believe that we have the skills and talent here to realise our vision for the industry, and the city.”

The sector plans are an important part of the city’s masterplan, which highlights opportunities for Sunderland to develop industries including low carbon, creative, software and healthcare related business. Its vision is to turn Sunderland into ‘an entrepreneurial university city at the heart of a low carbon regional economy’.

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