A landmark joint venture between Coventry-based electric van maker Modec and US firm Navistar has been welcomed.
The deal signed this week will see the two firms collaborate on producing all-electric trucks for sale in North and South America. Earlier this year President Obama awarded a £23 million grant for the joint venture.
Modec is the first company in the world to design and build an electric commercial vehicle from scratch rather than bolting a battery onto an existing vehicle.
Business Minister Pat McFadden visited the company yesterday and said Modec had a key role to play in the automotive industry of the future.
He said: “Companies like Modec are key to the Government’s vision for low carbon manufacturing and helping the UK automotive industry manage the transition from conventional to electric drive technologies. It’s essential that UK companies are at the forefront of these technologies today in order to secure the jobs of tomorrow.
“Public investment in this innovative business has helped it pursue exciting expansion plans, securing skilled jobs here in the West Midlands as well as helping to develop a growing UK supply chain.
“Successful and enterprising firms like Modec are important to the future success of our economy and I wish them every success.”
Modec received a £4 million government loan from Advantage West Midlands earlier this year to support its business plan. The company welcomed the government support at a time when tough economic conditions were making it difficult to raise the money.
Mick Laverty, chief executive of Advantage West Midlands said the deal shows the region continues to lead the way in the new technologies needed for a low carbon economy.
He added: “It is great news for the automotive supply chain across the region and the UK, hopefully meaning more jobs and a more prosperous industry. This is why Advantage West Midlands has been very pleased to have invested the money, time and effort in supporting Modec towards its current success.”
Bill Gillespie, Modec Chief Executive said: “We are very pleased to partner with Navistar in this new venture; it is a very positive endorsement in the low carbon vehicle technology Modec has developed.”
“Through this deal we will be able to exploit our technological advances in Modec’s existing European markets as well as the US. In 2010 Modec will see a significant increase in sales which will enable us to fund our extensive R&D efforts.”