Bosses from some of the UK’s biggest electric vehicle, battery and component manufacturers will gather in Sunderland next month to discuss how best to secure the future of the automotive industry in the north-east.
The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) will be hosting its Regional Forum at Sunderland’s Stadium of Light on May 5.
There, industry chiefs, including those from Nissan and Britishvolt, along with local businesses will explore ways of delivering investment, growth and jobs for the region.
SMMT CEO Mike Hawes said: ‘The north-east is an automotive manufacturing hub for the UK, making products that are sought after across the globe while sustaining thousands of well-paid, skilled jobs.
‘The region has seen more investment into electric vehicle and battery production than any other in the UK, highlighting its importance to the sector, the economy and the decarbonisation of road transport.
‘But no region can rest on its laurels, so it is important that its competitive advantage is retained and further investment secured not just to create new jobs and growth but to bolster the UK’s shift to net zero.’
Alan Johnson, vice-president of Nissan UK’s Sunderland plant, said: ‘It’s fantastic that the SMMT have chosen the north-east to hold this important event.
‘It will be a great opportunity to discuss the future for the industry, as well as Nissan’s own exciting electrification plans, which include EV36Zero – the world-first EV manufacturing ecosystem that we are building here in Sunderland.’
Britishvolt executive officer Liv Peace added: ‘The north-east of England is rapidly building out as an anchor of UK battery-manufacturing excellence.
‘This is a truly exciting and historic era for the region and the country.
‘With easy access to renewable energy – an imperative for producing truly sustainable battery cells – the region is perfectly positioned to put the UK firmly on the global battery map.
‘Couple all of this with the excellent academia in the region and the establishment of the North-East Battery Alliance, and it’s clear why this part of the country is gaining the reputation that it is.
‘The region’s five universities are collaborating to form working groups reviewing all aspects of battery production – from raw materials to recycling – to strengthen the region’s research offering in this space.
‘Britishvolt is proud to be part of the north-east energy transition narrative. Not all batteries are created equal.’
Recent analysis by SMMT revealed how the automotive industry has committed £4.1bn to the north-east during Britain’s first ‘electric decade’, representing around a quarter of the total sum invested nationwide by the sector since 2011.
As well as Nissan’s Sunderland plant, the north-east is home to the UK’s first battery gigafactory.