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3 minute read

Saietta Group to move production from China to Sunderland

Engineering firm Saietta Group is expanding into Sunderland and onshoring from China, after securing a facility in Houghton-le-Spring.

The company, which specialises in the design, development and supply of electric powertrains, has signed a lease on the former ZF site in Rainton Bridge, in a move that will accelerate Saietta’s expansion plans and support the advancement of e-drive solutions.

Initially, Saietta intends to use its new facility to manufacture its e-Axle heavy commercial vehicle drivetrain, which was previously manufactured in China, as well as scale up the production of its proprietary AFT (axial-flux technology) motors for multiple applications.

The firm – which was floated on the London Stock Exchange AIM in July 2021 – has indicated its intention to grow capacity to manufacture around 100,000 electric propulsion motors per year.

Saietta Group is expanding to a new site in Sunderland and moving e-motor production from China to the UK / Picture: Saietta Group

The business has been supported with its move by Sunderland City Council, as well as ZF, which still has a large facility in Peterlee. ZF announced it would be withdrawing from Sunderland last year, having employed people in the city for more than 30 years. Saietta has taken a lease on the 86,000 sq ft premises, providing it with a pilot production facility capable of supporting its rapid growth.

Wicher (Vic) Kist, chief executive of Saietta, said: “This is a landmark achievement for Saietta, providing us with a UK pilot production facility more than two years ahead of schedule, accelerating our capability to supply our innovation to clients in high volume globally.

“In addition to the lease on the large premises in Sunderland, we are also acquiring automotive production lines and are ready to employ a fantastic, proven team with decades of experience in manufacturing electric motors between them. The UK is a hot spot for electric powertrain innovation and we are committed to building up the engineering and manufacturing of our technology in the UK and exporting to mainland Europe and beyond.”

Saietta is an AIM-quoted, multi-national business that designs, engineers and manufactures complete powertrains for electric vehicles on land from scooters to buses and on sea / Picture: Saietta Group

Peter McIntyre, executive director of city development at Sunderland City Council, added: “This is a fantastic announcement for Sunderland, that will secure jobs for people from the city and further afield and increases the city’s contribution to the move towards a net-zero economy.

“It’s been brilliant to see ZF play its part in the city’s economy over the years and in supporting Saietta’s move here too. The company leaves a proud legacy behind and has made an enormous contribution to the city over the 30-plus years it was based here, so it’s fitting that they should play a positive part in their facility’s next chapter, which will bring yet more jobs and prosperity to Sunderland.”

Saietta’s investment has created the opportunity to offer new jobs to 39 highly-skilled former members of ZF staff. Following their redundancy, the majority of ZF staff have already gone on to secure jobs elsewhere.

Duncan Hedley, former ZF Sunderland plant manager, who has been offered a role with Saietta, said: “The loyalty, professionalism and pride of the Sunderland ZF team was absolutely incredible and I’ll always be proud to have been part of such a major business in Sunderland. I’m very much looking forward to leading Saietta as it establishes its base in Sunderland, tapping into the talented skills base we have in the North East.”

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