Issue: Feb 2014

Government's Automotive Investment body visits Sunderland's supply chain

by Michael Stewart

Leading figures from the government’s Automotive Investment Organisation (AIO) visited Sunderland’s thriving automotive components companies this month.


The two day visit, organised by the business investment team of Sunderland City Council, included discussions with senior managers and plant tours of global supply chain companies based in Sunderland including TRW, Lear Corporation, Calsonic Kansei and Unipres.


The buoyancy of Sunderland’s automotive sector attracted AIO to the city to see at first-hand the breadth of current investment, and which aspects of automotive manufacturing investment could strengthen the city’s and the UK’s automotive industry.


AIO was set up by government to attract more overseas investment into the UK’s car manufacturing sector. Deputy chief executive of AIO, Lawrence Davies, was formerly head of procurement and supply chain at General Motors UK. He said: “The AIO may only have been established for a short time but we have already formed an excellent relationship with Sunderland City Council’s business investment team. Seeing the strength of Sunderland’s automotive sector for ourselves is extremely helpful and timely, as we develop our shared work to implement the UK’s Automotive Industrial Strategy.


“The visit to Sunderland has clarified supply chain strengths in the city and UK, and those areas that could be the focus of further global investment to complement existing expertise. The conversations with directors and plant managers of some world-leading automotive companies based in Sunderland have been extremely positive and helpful.”


Sunderland attracted a number of major automotive sector investments totalling over £265m during 2013 including announcements by Nissan, TRW and Calsonic Kansei.


Councillor Harry Trueman, Deputy Leader of Sunderland City Council said: “We were delighted to welcome the Automotive Investment Organisation to Sunderland. This sector is key to economic growth in the city, region and UK, and the record-breaking production capabilities of Sunderland-based companies show how the sector can bring major investment to a city which has a direct impact on the UK economy. The skills and commitment of the city’s automotive sector are creating significant growth, which positions the city as a global hub for automotive manufacturing.”


The automotive industry is one of 11 sectors that have been identified by the government as key to future growth and prosperity. A 2012 report by the Automotive Council stated that a potential market worth £3bn exists for UK suppliers and overseas companies looking to set up or expand manufacturing facilities in the UK.


When the report was released by the Automotive Council, Business Secretary Vince Cable said: "On average, only a third of the parts that go into cars manufactured here are sourced from the UK. We know that global manufacturers in the UK want to buy more from the UK.”


The creation of the AIO in 2013 aims to take advantage of this opportunity and the AIO aims to increase investment from global automotive manufacturers in the UK, including component manufacturers that will complement existing providers such as the successful, growing network of supply chain companies across Sunderland

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