The North East is a globally significant automotive manufacturing region.
It is home to more than 240 automotive sector firms and produces around 30% of the UK’s passenger cars. It also represents 20% of all electric vehicle production across Europe and manufacturers more than 6,000 non-highway vehicles a year.
The region also boasts a globally competitive supply chain with 28 Tier 1 suppliers and a rich seam of specialist SMEs and research and development centres. Combined, these companies generate more than £11bn in sales and employ more than 30,000 people.
However, the automotive sector is facing significant challenges globally as we transition towards an electrified and connected future. Here in the UK this challenge is amplified by the ongoing uncertainty of Brexit which impacts business and consumer confidence.
In terms of Brexit we need certainty over our future trading relations with Europe and the NEAA supports the wider UK automotive sector position which has consistently called for free and frictionless trade and regulatory alignment for the automotive sector in order to maintain our manufacturing competitiveness - a ‘no deal’ Brexit would have a devastating impact.
The transition to an electrified and connected future offers the North East a real opportunity. In recent years, the region has established significant capabilities in batteries, power electronics and electric motors. We must capitalise on these strengths to ensure the region is at the forefront of the UK Government’s strategy to ensure the technologies of tomorrow are designed, developed and manufactured in the UK.
This will transform the region into a true automotive powerhouse which encompasses a very dynamic, forward looking and competitive supply chain and incorporates strengths in research, development and innovation in new automotive technologies and manufacturing processes.
North East Automotive Alliance (NEAA), was established in March 2015 to support the sustainable economic growth and competitiveness of the North East automotive sector.
Today, the NEAA is the largest automotive cluster in the UK and is widely recognised as the exemplar cluster. The NEAA provides a unparallelled collaborative network where companies find benefit from leadership and co-ordination of activities for mutual benefit.
We have been working hard to support the incumbent automotive companies based in the region through thematic working groups focused on business excellence, skills, trade and investment and innovation and technology – and we’ve seen some fantastic successes. However, the true impact of a cluster is not felt until the medium to long-term. To this end the NEAA has been working closely with the board to set our new five-year strategy.
Our vision is that the North East Automotive Alliance will be the catalyst through which the North East becomes the location of choice for automotive investment in Europe and that the region will be recognised as a true automotive powerhouse with a very dynamic, forward looking and competitive supply chain; and incorporates strengths in research, development and innovation in new automotive technologies and manufacturing processes.
We have seen the Government has set out its stall to ensure the UK is a leading force in the move to electric vehicles and in industrial digitalisation. The North East is well placed to take advantage of these.
CESAM will ensure the North East is well placed to capitalise on the benefits of automation and digitisation. We are also the leader in electrification too:
- The region produces Europe’s most successful electric vehicle, the Nissan Leaf – accounting for 20% of all electric vehicles manufactured in Europe
- It is home to the only two battery manufacturing plants in the UK – Envision and HYVE
- We are a world leader in Power Electronics, Motors and Drives (PEMD); and the NE led the Stephenson Challenge bid, which secured £78m from the Government.
- The region continues to play a leading role in this programme, which has been renamed “Driving the Electric Revolution” (DER).
We hope that over the next 12 to 18 months we could see in the region of £80m of funding being secured to support CESAM, DER and a UK testbed for Connected and Autonomous Logistics here in the North East.