The Welsh automotive industry kicked off 2016 in rude health as almost quarter of a billion pounds of fresh investment was announced for the sector in the first three months of the year, according to research revealed today by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).
The announcements mark a milestone for Welsh manufacturing, with the welcome return of car production after an absence of 43 years as both Aston Martin and TVR will invest significantly in new car plants. Only three car models have ever been manufactured in Wales: the Gilbern GT, Genie and Invader, built by Gilbern Sports Cars (Components) Ltd in Glamorgan from 1959 to 1973. That is now set to change.
Wales has become an increasingly attractive place for investors with an established automotive supply chain sector. More than 150 automotive component and system companies are currently based in the country, employing 18,000 people and generating £3 billion for the economy.
In addition to Aston Martin’s announcement of a new £200 million plant in Glamorgan to build its all new DBX crossover, TVR announced its comeback plans with a sports car facility worth £30 million in the Ebbw Vale Enterprise Zone. Meanwhile, Toyota pledged £7 million to produce its next generation of hybrid engines in Deeside, and £500,000 will be invested in new plant equipment by Powys-based precision cold forming machinery specialist Dawson Shanahan. Together this investment will create more than 1,000 new jobs in Wales.
Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said, “The recent investment announcements in Wales come as a welcome boost not just to the sector but to the local economy at a time of wider industrial uncertainty. Wales has a strong reputation for producing engines and will now become a global car producing destination. We’ve already seen the ability of automotive manufacturing to revitalise communities across the UK, particularly in the Midlands and North West, where billions of pounds of investment has helped secure jobs for tens of thousands of people.”
Wales already has a strong engine manufacturing presence, with a third (34.3%) of all engines built in the UK in the first three months of 2016 made there. Welsh plants were also responsible for producing two out of every five (41.3%) engines exported from the UK in quarter one.