A group of European automotive industry experts were given a ‘taste’ of innovative manufacturing and traditional English style this week thanks to a special visit hosted by supply chain initiative Accelerate.
Members of the Transnational Clustering in the Automotive Sector (TCAS) project, which includes representatives from Germany, Netherlands, Poland, France and Slovenia, were treated to a guided tour of the Morgan Motor Company in Malvern and were impressed at the intricacies of the design, the unrivalled craftsmanship and, naturally, the elegance of the finished product.
The trip also served to highlight the growth of the niche vehicle industry in the West Midlands and the strength and calibre of local suppliers operating in the region.
Lucy Prinsep, Project Manager at Accelerate, picked up the story:
“TCAS, which is funded by Europe Innova, is an important project for the car industry and looks to bring together some of the largest and most innovative automotive clusters in Europe.
“The idea is that the partners will meet on a regular basis, share best practice and identify the opportunities and challenges that India, China and, increasingly Mexico and Brazil will present going forward.”
She continued: “Each member organisation will host a visit in their country to demonstrate a particular strength and, once these have been completed, the findings will be discussed, finalised and then disseminated.”
Delegates were given a full tour of Morgan’s impressive factory, which produces 12 – 15 cars per week across four model ranges.
Each one is designed and manufactured using a combination of traditional craftsmanship and the latest technology, with the end result being one of the world’s most popular roadsters and niche vehicles.
“The company is certainly a jewel in the West Midlands crown and you could tell from the reaction of our partners how much they enjoyed seeing the unique facilities and skills of the workforce,” explained Lucy.
“It also provides a fitting snapshot of the current niche vehicle scene we possess in the West Midlands, which is as vibrant as any other area of the UK. Currently, we have about 150 specialist suppliers that produce parts and offer services to twelve manufacturers, making anything from the GMT and Connaught cars to Aston Martin and the multi-purpose Gibbs Aquada.”
Part of the TCAS brief will also involve the creation of new European business opportunities for the participating clusters and the formation of a knowledge transfer system to help develop less advanced regions.
The project, which lasts for just over two years, is also a perfect example of Accelerate’s growing impact overseas, with the initiative playing an instrumental role in the development of AutoZone (identifying and matching new business opportunities) and NEAC, the Network for European Automotive Competence.
Lucy concluded: “Industry is changing and we need to make sure that we can have our say on the global picture so that local suppliers can benefit.”
Managed by Birmingham Chamber of Commerce and funded by Advantage West Midlands and ERDF, Accelerate celebrated its tenth birthday by assisting its 3000th supplier.