ELECTRIC vehicle component maker Sevcon is to more than double its international presence in a market that is now worth an estimated £100m.
The Gateshead-based company has signed partnership deals with firms in Finland, Bulgaria and Turkey on its way to establishing a dealer network across continental Europe.
Sevcon, a designer and manufacturer of motor controllers, is also close to signing similar deals with partners in Poland and Russia and the new territories add to its existing outlets in Italy, Spain, Holland, France and Germany.
Sevcon’s vice president of global sales, Mark Durrant, said: “These deals with our three new partners signal the launch of a major expansion drive across Europe.
“The sector has been transformed over the last 12 months and there now seems to be a real sense of urgency from fleet operators to cut carbon emissions. This is driving the market forward at a rapid pace.
“Previously the conversion market tended to be one from the internal combustion engine to LPG (liquefied petroleum gas), but the now focus is on electrifying existing vehicle fleets.
“In doing so, fleet managers can ensure they are cutting emissions and avoiding punitive carbon taxes, which are becoming a feature of the European on-road vehicle market.
“Our move into Finland, Turkey and Bulgaria, will shortly be followed by further partnerships as we aim to expand across the continent. Over the next few months we will be heading into Russia and Poland.”
In Finland, Sevcon has partnered with Hybria who specialise in electric and hybrid powertrain technology for mobile equipment.
In Turkey its partner is Ekol and in Bulgaria it is electric vehicle component supplier BLS Automation.
In recent weeks delegates from the new partner organisations have spent time at Sevcon’s headquarters on the Team Valley.
In the UK Sevcon has joined forces with Exeter-based hybrid retro-fitters, Ashwood Automotive, and a number of other partners to develop system-integrated packages for the retro-fit market.
This project was supported with grant funding support from the government-backed Technology Strategy Board.
Retro-fitting a vehicle to electric can reduce fuel consumption, cut carbon emissions by 90% and nitrous oxide emissions by over 86%.
The company saw revenues for the 12 months to the end of September 2012 rise by 10% to £22m.
And the business reaped rewards with a profit of £740,000 compared with £442,000 a year ago as the demand grew for its on-road electric vehicle applications.
However, the firm’s performance was held back by a sluggish fourth quarter, due to global economic uncertainty, which saw revenues fall to £4.97m compared with £5.8m the previous year.
Although listed on the NASDAQ, the company was launched on the Team Valley more than 50 years ago, where it is still based, and where it employs over half of its 110 staff.