A new group to support the North East’s aim of becoming an automotive powerhouse has been launched.

It comes after the UK became to pass major economy in the world to pass laws to end its contribution to global warming by 2050.

The acceleration towards vehicle electrification was prominent in the headlines with the Government’s announcement that it was set to ban petrol and diesel cars by 2035.

A number of UK cities have already put plans in place to ban or reduce non-essential car journeys in line with the net-zero target and, prior to the pandemic, statistics highlighted an acceleration towards electric with figures revealing that 3.4% of all vehicles sold in 2019 were electric, with this set to expand to 5.5% in 2020.

Paul Butler, Chief Executive of the NEAA said: “The North East is in prime position to capitalise on the electric vehicle revolution. It is home to Europe’s most successful electric vehicle, the Nissan LEAF, to Europe’s first ever giga factory, the Envision AESC UK and produces over one million electric motors per annum. Quite simply, we are already a globally significant location for electrified powertrain technologies.

“The new Electrified Powertrain Technology Group is an important step in supporting the North East’s transition to become a true automotive powerhouse and a location of choice for automotive investment in Europe.”

The recent appointment of Matt Boyle as chairman of the NEAA adds significant expertise. Matt is an internationally respected figure and expert in vehicle electrification. As a former President and CEO of Sevcon, he is at the forefront of a movement to place the region at the heart of the zero-carbon revolution.

Matt Boyle, said: “It is extremely important that the NEAA steps up, shows leadership and drives the discussion. This is a big moment for the alliance. It is highly regarded by leading figures in both automotive and political circles and is informed by a huge membership.

“Electrification in the UK is world leading. There are large sectors looking at it as a way of battling the economic challenges that the country faces, automotive being one of them. Electrification has been on the agenda for some time and the current pandemic will accelerate it. Supply chain developments in the UK must become larger, more efficient and cost effective.

“Electrification is also a high priority across many other sectors, aerospace and energy being two relevant examples. Innovate UK is heavily electrification-focused, especially around ensuring there is sufficient manufacturing capability and capacity.

“Rolls-Royce Aerospace, for example, has already taken a number of steps to provide hybrid-electric propulsion and we will undoubtedly see the shift to electrification from organisations in this space moving forward.”

NEAA members were at the forefront of the Stephenson Challenge that led to the £80m Driving the Electric Revolution (DER) programme. The region continues to play a leading role in this programme with the recent announcement that Newcastle University will lead a new £30m network of industrial centres. This is focussed around four cutting-edge centres to enable faster collaborative research and the development of power electronics, electric machines and drives, providing open access facilities with state-of-the-art equipment and bringing together the UK’s technology and manufacturing expertise in electrification research and development.

The Electrified Powertrain Technology Group will be chaired by Ryan Maughan, founder and managing director of AVID Technology, who has long been at the forefront of the shift towards electrification, specialising in the design and manufacture of electrified powertrain components.

Ryan Maughan, said: “We have a huge problem with carbon emissions and climate change, something that I am very passionate about and that is why we looked to electrify vehicle powertrains.

“Having spent a lot of time travelling, I was always aware of air pollution but calls to reduce emissions was not having a big enough impact. Our vision has always been to deliver a greener future by enabling smart powertrain electrification.

“The Electrified Powertrain Technology Group, set up by members of the alliance, is an opportunity to promote the region as an innovative and forward-thinking environment and to also leverage collaborative working.”