Grayson MD calls for more local content in electrification investment

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Stuart Hateley, Managing Director at Grayson Thermal Systems

Grayson Thermal Systems’ Managing Director has rasied concerns that a ‘once in a generation’ opportunity could be missed in the EV supply chain

A Birmingham manufacturer has welcomed the recent electrification investment into the West Midlands but has called for the region to do more to make sure local content supply is on the agenda. Grayson Thermal Systems Managing Director Stuart Hateley believes we are poised to miss a ‘once in a generation’ opportunity to ensure that all tiers of the supply chain have the chance to benefit from the move to more sustainable vehicles.

Stuart, who has been in charge at the Tyseley-based firm since 2009, wants local MPs and the West Midlands Combined Authority to come together with industry to find a way of ensuring more of the vehicles destinated for the UK’s roads feature locally made components. He made the rallying call after his own firm sealed a major deal to supply upto 400 heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems for electric buses being made for use in Dublin.

“The West Midlands has had a great start to the year with a £2.5bn electric vehicle battery factory in Coventry receiving early-stage planning permission and, more recently, the £50m deal with National Express to deliver 130 electric buses by 2023,” explained Stuart, who is joined at the helm by brothers Ian and James. “This is great news for the region in our bid to lead the electrification race, but what I’d like to know is if anything is being done to ensure there is local content in these projects or is most of the money going outside the region or even the country?”

“We have a lot of skills and technology already established in the area and what better way to help increase our domestic supply chain capacity than to involve suppliers in how these vehicles and infrastructure projects are built.

“I’d love to see Andy Street and other local MPs really get behind this, maybe in the shape of a taskforce that also gets manufacturers and academia on board. Get this right and it potentially could create thousands of high-skilled jobs locally, which will pour revenue back into the coffers of the Treasury.”

Birmingham-based Grayson Thermal Systems, which was founded in 1978 by current chairman Graham Hateley, said it has bounced back from the pandemic after securing more than £8m of orders from customers including ABB, Solaris, Skoda and Wrightbus.

The company said its ‘generations of knowledge’ has been pivotal to this growth, with its new Battery Thermal Management System (BTMS) proving extremely popular with its core coach and bus market, as well as recent expansion into off-highway, commercial vehicle and rail sectors.
Group turnover has now risen to £32m and it said that more than 40 new jobs have already been created, with another 12 positions now available across engineering, operations and administration. Over 45% of the company’s anticipated 2022 turnover is destined for export markets across Europe, North America and Asia Pacific.

Stuart concluded: “If we are involved in these electrification projects from the outset then we can build technology and expertise that can not only be used to attract future investment in the UK, but could also be exported across the world. It’s not a case that we should be handed these contracts on a plate, I don’t agree with that. You have to be competitive, skilled and deliver a solution that works, that’s the bottom line.

“We are doing everything possible to ensure our zero-emission vehicle innovation is designed for manufacture at the right price point to be commercially viable. However, it wouldn’t hurt for our Government and local authorities to explore ways where any public funding is spent with one eye on supporting the local supply chain.”

Work being carried out constructing one of the company’s products. GTS