In an opportunity of a lifetime, I was invited to tour the Aston Martin Lagonda facility in Wales. The tour was facilitated by the Welsh Automotive Group at the request of the UK Government’s Department for Trade and Commerce. With us was Robert O’Neill, a tall, Welsh local, chief executive of the Welsh Automotive Group, an independent company incorporated in 2001 to develop a common approach to achieving sustainable continuous improvement for the automotive industry in Wales I went. The organization is funded by the Welsh Government and has a number of members including Aston Martin.
According to Robert O’Neill, the organization aims to establish the region of Wales as a trusted name among automotive industries worldwide, much like the region of Coventry which houses companies such as Ford, Jaguar-Land Rover, Tata . , Mahindra among many others. On the other hand, the region of Wales includes 2 niche automakers including Aston Martin, 30 Tier 1s and 1 OE engine plant as does Toyota, which has over 100 companies in its service and supply chain, many of whom are small and medium enterprises. . In total there are around 13,000 people directly employed in this sector in Wales.
While the Aston Martin Lagonda facility has just started a few years back, employing around 750+ people, a success story for Wales has been Toyota’s Deeside plant. The facility opened in 1993 and today produces one engine every 44 seconds. It is Toyota’s first plant outside Japan to manufacture hybrid electric engines. However, the sector has now opened itself up to focus on net zero mobility, inviting OEMs and parts manufacturers in the EV segment.
“We are looking for any company that currently supplies the market or has the potential to transform their process and participate in the electric vehicle supply chain of the future,” said Robert O’Neill. What Wells offers is supply chain supremacy with a focus on semiconductors as well. Robert says that the Semiconductor Challenge has shaken the whole world, especially the electric vehicle industry.
First Covid-19, then the global shipping crisis and now the Ukraine-Russia situation has further aggravated the situation. This also proves that different countries need their own supply chain for smooth auto production. He invited Indian companies to come to Wales because we have education, innovation, government structure all working together to accelerate the development of compound semiconductors through the world’s first dedicated compound semiconductor cluster.
Summarizing his pitch, Robert O’Neill said that Wales is not the number one priority for domestic and international automakers right now, but soon, with the establishment of semiconductors and other ancillary units in the area, electric vehicle manufacturers will be able to scale up. But there will be profit. And so, it is in the favor of automakers entering the Welsh market to gain an early advantage.