MOTOR vehicle parts maker Unipres UK is investing £40m in its North East facility as it prepares for an upsurge in business from the neighbouring Nissan factory.
The Sunderland-based firm, which produces steel components that are used to form the internal structure of cars, has recently installed a £6m metal pressing machine weighing 3,000 tonnes that will help it to manufacture components suitable for Nissan’s four new models.
The company saw its revenues jump by nearly £30m to £170m in the last year and has already increased its workforce by around 100 as Nissan on Wearside increased production of the Qashqai and Juke models.
As a supplier of parts for the Nissan Leaf, Unipres will be producing an increased number of components, many of which will be used to build electric vehicles and is expecting to create 200 jobs over the next two years.
The firm, which specialises in the manufacture of components using high-tensile materials, believes that components made specifically for EVs 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 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 press will go some way towards helping us to increase capacity.
“Our factory extension cost us £12m but it’s money well spent as we’re looking to grow the business’s capacity by 30%. We’ve seen 20% growth year on year over the last three years and that is largely helped by developments at the Nissan plant. We’re looking to bring in new facilities to cope with the additional level of business as part of a large £40m investment. ”
In keeping with its commitment to promote EVs, Unipres has recently installed new charging points which can be used free of charge by its employees and visitors.