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Car parts firm gearing up for electrical vehicles
A CAR parts manufacturer has invested £6m in its North-East plant to get up to speed for growth in the emerging electrical vehicles market.
Sunderland-based Unipres, which manufactures parts that form the internal structures of cars, has installed a 3,000 tonne press machine to make components suitable for electric vehicles.
The firm, which counts Nissan and Honda on its client list, has also installed five electric vehicle charging posts in the hope of encouraging staff to get behind this more sustainable method of transport.
The press, which will be operational by the end of 2012, will allow the North-East firm to significantly increase its capacity.
The components maker already has orders for parts to be used in eco-cars including the Nissan Leaf, which will be produced at the Japanese car firm's Sunderland plant next year.
Unipres, which specialises in making parts with high-tensile materials, which are stronger but lighter than traditional substances, believes that electrical vehicle components will represent an increasingly significant part of its business over the next two to three years.
Graham Baines, finance director at Unipres, said: "There is little doubt that electric vehicles will play an increasingly important role in transport in the future, but already - today - we are seeing a significant step change in the volume of orders for parts suitable for use in eco-friendly car models produced by our customers - and particularly on Wearside where the Leaf will be produced in 2013.
"As a business, we have had to respond to the changing needs of our customers and the growing volume of parts we are producing to fulfil customer demand, and the new press we have ordered will go some way towards helping us to increase capacity, further strengthening the business."
The company, which last year turned over more than £170m, had a similar press installed six years ago, but have made further investment to keep up with its growing order book.
The car parts manufacturer, which is also getting behind electric vehicles by encouraging staff to try them, is more than half way through its six month Switch Electric Vehicle trial.
Bosses are already seeing the benefit of going green with the fleet of five electric vehicles on loan being used by the firm for business travel around the North-East.
Mr Baines added: "As a business that is part of the automotive supply chain, we have a vested interest in the success of the vehicles our customers are producing, and that increasingly includes electric vehicles.
"We're keen to not only show our support as a business, but also to encourage others to try electric vehicles, and the trials currently underway at Unipres have been extremely positive.
"We're committed, as a business, to reducing our carbon footprint and the work we're doing with Charge Your Car is allowing us to do just that without any compromise."