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    NAA Event review: Bentley Motors

    The recent NAA event at Bentley Motors in Crewe provided another example of a unique factory visit opportunity that is only available through the NAA…

    Visitors to this NAA event were treated to tours of various aspects of the Bentley factory, ranging from the specialist skills involved in the production of the wood and leather elements of the interiors, to the development work that is underway for the new Bentayga SUV.

    There were also three presentations, from Bentley Motors, the AIO and the AIP, which are summarised as follows.

    Bentley Motors

    Michael Straughan, Bentley’s Board Member – Manufacturing, provided an update about the company.

    Although the Crewe site dates back to 1938, with all the associated history that is on show at the factory, the big news for Bentley this year is the production of the Bentayga, the brand’s new SUV. This is requiring physical expansion at the Crewe site, as well as skills development in Bentley’s complex manufacturing process, which is currently underway in such specialist areas as wood and leather.

    Michael explained how Bentley is ‘its own Tier 1 supplier’ – with all the interior and the engine being made inside the plant at Crewe. There’s also a new line for the W12 engine; Bentley is the Group Centre of Excellence for these engines, which it exports back to Volkswagen Group.

    All these developments show a high level of confidence in the Crewe site, which is translating into new high quality jobs in R & D.

    Michael finished by talking about environmental technology in Bentleys: “Bentley strives to improve CO2 performance of each new model and is currently developing plug-in hybrid (PHEV) technology for future use.”

    Automotive Investment Organisation

    Lawrence Davies, Deputy Chief Executive at the Automotive Investment Organisation (AIO), who was previously Director of Purchasing at GM, explained that the UK automotive industry is currently doing well; UK manufacturing and sales are both up.

    The AIO can assist UK-owned companies, and it has been successful in helping to win over £200m of trade for UK companies. However the AIO is also involved in encouraging companies to Invest in the UK, with the UK being seen as an attractive economy to invest in.

    One of the most significant issues in the UK automotive industry at the moment is the £4bn supply chain opportunity – there are many components that OEMs would like to see being manufactured in the UK, which is a real business opportunity for NAA members.

    The AIO provides a bespoke, and free, service for UK automotive supply chain companies and is another excellent example of the industry and government working together.

    If your company would like to engage with the AIO please speak to Carol in the first instance.

    Automotive Industrial Partnership

    Sara Bettsworth presented about the Automotive Industrial Partnership (Auto IP), and its £30m funding to address skills shortages in the UK automotive industry.

    Sara echoed Lawrence’s message about the potential for the UK automotive supply chain to grow significantly and highlighted an important research project the Auto IP is currently undertaking to support this. The research aims to identify where skills shortages exist in the sector now or could develop in the future. The findings will be used to help determine where, when and how future skills investment is prioritised, leading to the development of new employer led learning and development solutions the whole industry will benefit from.

    Supply chain employers are being urged to get involved in the survey by contacting now or going to when the online survey opens at the end of this month.

    European Regional Development Fund Northern Powerhouse
    Partners Department for Business Innovation and Skills Finance Birmingham