The automotive cluster in the West Midlands represents 1500 companies, and with a total turnover of around £13 billion per year employs 115,000 people.
The automotive industry is central to the UK, with a significant share of vehicle output and a strong presence of volume premium brands and niche vehicle makers. There are 17 Tier 1 automotive suppliers in the West Midlands with well developed 2nd and 3rd Tier suppliers.
The West Midlands boasts unique automotive expertise in universities and industry research companies with expertise in body manufacture, especially use of lightweight materials, and emerging capability in other new higher-value-added technologies.
Nearly all major emerging technologies are being developed here; Jaguar Land Rover for example is a leader for adoption of new technology.
There has also been significant recent inward investment in development and engineering facilities by global Vehicle Manufacturers (Tata Motors and Shanghai Automotive).
• The Premium Automotive Research and Development (PARD) programme, at the University of Warwick, has applied world class technology into the premium car industry and its supply chain. Focussing on strategic areas including advanced joining, electronics, materials, simulation of manufacturing and hybrid power trains, many developments are already making their way into products. The programme is on target to attract £80 million of additional R&D expenditure and has secured high value added employment.
• In partnership with West Midlands Manufacturing Advisory Service (MAS), Accelerate has delivered business improvement to many companies and has achieved successful transformations of supply chain companies, moving them towards global competitiveness. This business improvement assistance has been recognised both inside and outside the region and has worked alongside national programmes which have minimised the impact of the divestment and closures occurring within the region.
• The Niche Vehicle Cluster programme has also helped the region’s strong cluster of niche vehicle manufacturers to collaborate on market exploitation.
Target Markets 2008 - 11
Automotive industry investment is now driven by both customer demand and legislative requirements. Investments for the next three years will focus on technology development in areas of regional expertise and exploitation of market opportunities through technology application. Specifically these areas are:
• Low emission vehicles (including carbon reduction and lightweight vehicles)
• Intelligent transportation systems (communication to and between vehicles)
• Niche vehicle cluster growth (companies accessing overseas markets and new technologies)
These areas of investment will be supported by continued input into business improvement, the skills to deploy the developed technologies and the promotion of automotive successes of the region.