Automotive supplier TRW’s Sunderland plant is creating 130 jobs and doubling factory floor space following a successful research and development project.
The US-headquartered manufacturer’s Sunderland operation produces steering systems and Sunderland City Council is investing £4.6m in an extension at the firm’s Rainton Bridge site, where 200 people already work.
The extension, which has also attracted £1.95m from the Regional Growth Fund, will be completed next year.
It will house assembly of electric motors used in TRW’s new steering technology created by the firm’s UK research and development team.
The new development is a belt-driven, electrically powered steering system which cuts fuel usage and carbon emissions to make cars both more economical and environmentally-friendly.
TRW also produces a column-drive steering system which is designed to reduce emissions and increase fuel economy.
Sunderland plant manager Tim Jayes said: “This extension is a major project for TRW in Sunderland and a strong vote of confidence in the site for the future. Our objective is to now develop the site as a global centre of excellence for the development and manufacture of electric motors and expand our offer to further applications and vehicle segments.
“This will help us to attract more business and strengthen our position as a market leader in steering.”
The new factory will be owned by Sunderland City Council and rented back to TRW.
Mr Jayes added: “We have a very long term relationship with the City Council and they are excellent to deal with. They have also supported us with our new laboratory and equipment to build concept motors. It’s unique in my experience to have the consistent level of advice and support the City Council has given us over the years.”
TRW, which counts VW as its biggest customer and also supplies to motor giants including Renault and General Motors, ships its products out of the UK via ports on the south coast.
Mr Jayes said he valued the Sunderland workforce for their efficiency and flexibility.
Sunderland Council leader Paul Watson said: “We are delighted to back TRW’s latest expansion in Sunderland, which is creating new jobs and wealth for the city’s economy.
“Sunderland is known for the outstanding quality of its workforce and to see that recognised on a global scale by a multinational company like TRW can only help to promote the city as a centre for inward investment.
“We have worked with TRW since the company arrived in Sunderland and look forward to continuing our mutually beneficial relationship for many years to come.”
Joe Greenwell, chief executive officer of the Automotive Investment Organisation, said: “I am delighted that the success of TRW’s Regional Growth Fund application has allowed the company to continue delivering new jobs and growth to Sunderland. TRW has played an important role in the UK and North East economy, and we are confident it will continue to be a strong contributor to an exceptional growth of the UK automotive industry.”
TRW’s Sunderland plant exports 100% of the products made in Sunderland and is predicting strong demand from Chinese and European car makers.
The company produces the world’s biggest selection of electrically assisted steering devices and created the first electrically powered hydraulic steering systems launched on the European market. Over 18m of these systems have been produced from the Sunderland plant.
Last year, TRW secured a £1.75 million in RGF funding with help from Sunderland City Council towards a £15m investment in its Sunderland facility.