Leading figures from the government’s AutomotiveInvestment Organisation (AIO) visited Sunderland’s thriving automotivecomponents companies this month.
The two day visit, organised by the business investmentteam of Sunderland City Council, included discussions with senior managers andplant tours of global supply chain companies based in Sunderland including TRW,Lear Corporation, Calsonic Kansei and Unipres.
The buoyancy of Sunderland’s automotive sector attractedAIO to the city to see at first-hand the breadth of current investment, andwhich aspects of automotive manufacturing investment could strengthen thecity’s and the UK’s automotive industry.
AIO was set up by government to attract more overseasinvestment into the UK’s car manufacturing sector. Deputy chief executive of AIO,Lawrence Davies, was formerly head of procurement and supply chain at GeneralMotors UK. He said: â€œThe AIO may only have been established for a short timebut we have already formed an excellent relationship with Sunderland CityCouncil’s business investment team. Seeing the strength of Sunderland’sautomotive sector for ourselves is extremely helpful and timely, as we developour shared work to implement the UK’s Automotive Industrial Strategy.
â€œThe visit to Sunderland has clarified supply chainstrengths in the city and UK, and those areas that could be the focus offurther global investment to complement existing expertise. The conversationswith directors and plant managers of some world-leading automotive companiesbased in Sunderland have been extremely positive and helpful.â€
Sunderland attracted a number of major automotive sectorinvestments totalling over Â£265m during 2013 including announcements by Nissan,TRW and Calsonic Kansei.
Councillor Harry Trueman, Deputy Leader of SunderlandCity Council said: â€œWe were delighted to welcome the Automotive InvestmentOrganisation to Sunderland. This sector is key to economic growth in the city,region and UK, and the record-breaking production capabilities ofSunderland-based companies show how the sector can bring major investment to acity which has a direct impact on the UK economy. The skills and commitment ofthe city’s automotive sector are creating significant growth, which positionsthe city as a global hub for automotive manufacturing.â€
The automotive industry is one of 11 sectors that havebeen identified by the government as key to future growth and prosperity. A2012 report by the Automotive Council stated that a potential market worth Â£3bnexists for UK suppliers and overseas companies looking to set up or expandmanufacturing facilities in the UK.
When the report was released by the Automotive Council,Business Secretary Vince Cable said: “On average, only a third of theparts that go into cars manufactured here are sourced from the UK. We know thatglobal manufacturers in the UK want to buy more from the UK.â€
The creation of the AIO in 2013 aims to take advantage ofthis opportunity and the AIO aims to increase investment from global automotivemanufacturers in the UK, including component manufacturers that will complementexisting providers such as the successful, growing network of supply chaincompanies across Sunderland