The global car industry is turning as one to a new low-carbon future, and North East England is most definitely in the driving seat
ELECTRIC vehicle development has placed the North East at the forefront of this exciting new industry and has the potential to propel the region through the 21st Century and beyond.
The wide range of companies already signed up to low carbon transport are working across Northumberland, Tyne and Wear, County Durham and the Tees Valley in manufacturing, charging infrastructure, engineering, research and education.
As the regional development agency, One North East is uniquely positioned to bring all these elements together and present the region to the Government and international investors as the leading location in low-carbon vehicle development.
Our regional approach to this has encompassed a major offer that covers many areas.
Electric cars, taxis, people carriers, minibuses, , scooters and utility vehicles which will be made or are proposed to be made here.
Tesco and the MetroCentre are among the companies to sign up for delivery of charging points where drivers can plug in as they shop.
Solar canopies that cover parking spaces are being developed here that make the driving experience truly carbon-neutral.
College and university courses will train the mechanics, engineers and designers of tomorrow.
Our universities will be utilising a new R&D centre to work with industry to create new products.
This offer convinced Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Business Secretary Lord Mandelson to name the North East the UK's first Low Carbon Economic Area for Ultra-Low-Carbon Vehicles.
It has also helped to cement the strong partnership between One North East and Nissan, which led to the company's Washington plant being chosen as the location for the European “mother plant” for electric battery production.
A stone's throw away from that Washington factory is the base of Smith Electric Vehicles, already the world leader in commercial electric vans and trucks and part of President Barack Obama's new electric revolution in the USA.
Both Nissan and Smith Electric Vehicles have received and continue to receive strong support from One North East.
They are both part of the North East's electric vehicle demonstrator project, along with Cramlington’s AVID Vehicles and Newcastle University. This will see 35 passenger vehicles developed and trialled on the region's roads, including cars, people carriers, a minibus, saloons and the first electric London taxis. There remain barriers to demand from consumers for electric vehicles and many myths surrounding their use – One North East has a fundamental role to play in addressing many of them.
The biggest of these is the lack of an infrastructure for charging electric vehicles in our villages, towns and cities, and places of work and leisure.
In answer to this One North East is creating a world-class electric vehicle charging infrastructure alongside some of the biggest names in the private sector, including Tesco, the AA, British Gas, CE Electric and Capita Shopping Centres. This strategic approach will help the region show the world how to roll out electric vehicle infrastructure.
One North East will install 750 charging points over the course of 2010 and 2011 to provide potential electric vehicle owners with the comfort that infrastructure exists in the region to charge them. The first 40 of these are already being installed in Newcastle and Gateshead.
Newcastle City Council and Gateshead Borough Council are among the country's most forward-thinking on electric vehicles. Newcastle Council is already operating an electric tipper truck in the city centre and its Eco Schools project is using an electric minibus to spread the message among tomorrow's drivers.
Newcastle and Gateshead Councils have also been chosen to be part of a Government programme from which they receive subsidies to replace vehicles in their fleet with like-for-like electric versions.
Smith Electric Vehicles has been chosen as one of three suppliers for this national programme and as more electric vehicles appear on our roads, the battle for hearts and minds becomes easier.
This excellence in manufacturing, a flexible, supportive supply chain and a world-class charging infrastructure will be complemented by an all-encompassing approach to skills and research and development in the Low Carbon Economic Area.
These developments have been warmly received both by the automotive industry and regional and national decision-makers.
The North East has a real story to tell when it comes to low carbon vehicles and is rightly being positioned at the forefront of the industry's future. In particular One North East is extremely proud of the work it is doing on electric vehicle development on behalf of the region, and the role it has played in bringing all the partners together.
While the hard work is only just beginning, we face fierce international competition is in this area and One North East will be making sure we continue to secure all the opportunities available for “green collar” jobs and investment in this vital sector.
This strategic approach will help the region show the world how to roll out electric vehicle infrastructure.
Page 3: Low Carbon Economic Area
Low Carbon Economic Area
THE North East was selected by the Government to be the UK’s first Low Carbon Economic Area for Ultra-Low-Carbon Vehicles.
Low Carbon Economic Areas (LCEAs) aim to draw together national, local and regional agencies to focus support on accelerating the growth of low carbon industries, skills base and supply chain.
The North East LCEA, led by One North East, will focus on supporting the transformation of the automotive industry, providing support for research and development, skills training and clustering of manufacturing.
The Low Carbon Economic Area will include:
The first training centre to specialise in the sustainable manufacturing and education in ultra-low carbon vehicles.
A Research & Development Centre – serving as a focus for research from all the region’s universities and local business.
An open access test track to trial the use of new technologies.
A new business park.
One North East is studying the feasibility of partially reopening the Leamside Rail Line to freight, linking the LCEA to the Port of Tyne.
Page 4: What they're saying about electric vehicles
What they're saying about electric vehicles
Prime Minister Gordon Brown: "The North East led the way with transport and industrial revolutions and now it is leading the low-carbon revolution."
Lord Mandelson: "This is good news not just for the North East, but for the whole of the UK, helping to attract foreign investment and securing UK’s place as a global leader in hi-tech manufacturing and automotive industries."
One North East chairman Margaret Fay: "North East England is at the forefront of the low-carbon economy and the region is aiming to be the leading location for electric vehicle development in Europe."
Trevor Mann, Nissan’s senior vice-president for manufacturing in Europe: "There has been a genuine gathering of momentum within the North East to make zero emission mobility a commercial and environmental success. And Nissan is very proud to be playing its part."
Page 5: The North East's low-carbon future
The North East's low-carbon future
ELECTRIC vehicles are just one of the low-carbon industries being pioneered in North East England.
New jobs in low-carbon industries have been part of the long-term strategy at regional development agency One North East for many years.
These emerging industries also include offshore wind, printable electronics and process industries and they are beginning to result in major new investments in the region.
Two biomass plants have been announced in recent months by MGT Power, one for Teesport and one for North Shields, each of which has the potential to create 150 permanent jobs and power 600,000 homes.
A £20m expansion of the Printable Electronics Technology Centre (PETEC) in Sedgefield, County Durham, was announced last July, aimed at stimulating the creation of 250 jobs in the North East and up to 1,500 jobs nationally.
New £12m industrial biotechnology facilities have also been announced for the vital Wilton site in the Tees Valley, which will be the best of their kind in the country, further strengthen the facilities on site, and will help the process industries move into a new low-carbon future.
In Northumberland, the New and Renewable Energy Centre in Blyth, which is already developing the wind turbines of tomorrow, has been given £10m to develop new wave and tidal equipment.