The company will build a £1.5m extension for R&D work following advice and support from Sunderland City Council’s Business Investment Team.
Jim Casey, operations director at Lear Sunderland said: “The Sunderland plant is recognised as a model plant worldwide for Lear Corporation.
“We have really talented workers at this plant, proven capability and strong links with the City Council and the university, all of which contributed to us securing this significant new dimension to our work at Lear Sunderland. I’d particularly like to thank Sunderland City Council for its much-valued support because without it this development would not have happened.”
Building and fitting out of the R&D extension is expected to be completed by September 2017.
Two years ago Lear Corporation made a multi-million pound investment to more than double the size of its plant at Rainton Bridge Industrial Estate, and create over 100 new jobs.
The factory, which opened in 2011, was Lear’s first UK foam manufacturing facility for vehicle seating and now employs 420 people. The factory has ramped up production to meet existing Nissan business and additional business for Jaguar Landrover.
Irene lucas, chief executive of Sunderland City Council said: “Lear’s decision to bring the European R&D facility to Sunderland is fantastic news. It’s a huge vote of confidence in Sunderland from a world-leading company, and strong evidence that this city is a global player in the automotive market.
“It will create new highly skilled jobs and strengthens the city’s reputation as a strong location for high tech, research and development companies.”
Lear is one of the world’s top automotive component makers with 243 manufacturing sites in 37 countries, employing approximately 150,000 people. Its seating and electrical components are found in more than 300 types of vehicle made by virtually every car manufacturer around the globe.
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Notes to editors
In 2011, Lear Corporation chose Sunderland as the location for a multimillion pound investment programme to create its first UK foam manufacturing facility for vehicle seating.
Lear's decision followed more than 18 months of talks between Lear Corporation and Sunderland City Council to set up the deal. The factory announced that 300 job opportunities would be created over the first two years. By 2014 the plant was working 24 hours a day, six days a week to keep up with demand for Nissan models such as the Qashqai.
In 2014 Lear won a contract with Jaguar Landrover, which led to a 3,500 sq m extension at Lear to house additional production equipment and support growing UK automotive seating foam business. The investment doubled the space at Sunderland and led to over 110 new jobs for local people.
Lear’s capacity is now over 600,000 car seats per year and it employs 420 people. The foam business for Lear Sunderland is supplied to its Lear sister assembly plants in the Midlands. The extension added foam production into Sunderland for JLR models.