A NORTH-EAST engine maker has reported record annual sales to the  European bus market thanks to rising demand from customers in Turkey.

More than 6,500 engines were made by Darlington-based Cummins with almost half supplied to leading Turkish bus manufacturers such as Otokar and Temsa.

Cummins has also agreed a deal with Istanbul-based Andolu Isuzu, further increasing its presence in the country.

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It comes as the UK Government has called on Cummins to help develop the next generation of greener bus and truck engines.

Cummins will lead a £4.9m project in stop-start" technology which aims to reduce engine noise and vibration, as well as cut fuel consumption.

Innovation agency, the Technology Strategy Board has awarded the funding for a Cummins-led consortium to introduce this technology.

It supports a wider drive by the Coalition to make the UK a world leader in the manufacture of low carbon vehicles.

Business Secretary Vince Cable said: "The next generation of cars, buses and diggers will be powered by radically different technologies and I want them to be developed here in Britain.

"Over the last few decades the British car industry has been transformed and today a new vehicle rolls off a UK production line every 20 seconds.

"The government's industrial strategy is giving business the confidence to invest, securing high-skilled, long-term jobs and creating a stronger economy."

Named FIRST, which stands for Frequent Integrated Soft Stop Start Technology, the 36 month project is a collaboration of engineers from Cummins' UK businesses including experts from its Darlington plant.

Dr Neil Brown, Cummins technical project leader for FIRST, said: "Our customers are demanding improved efficiency from their engines. For those operations with frequent stop-start duty cycles, such as buses and delivery trucks, there is an opportunity for fuel savings by switching off the engine when stationary.

"Present solutions have limitations, so the funding enables Cummins to deliver a capable and durable technology to the market in a timely manner."

Cummins Darlington has established itself as an industry leader in developing low emissions engines and exhausts.  

Last year, the company was chosen by Transport for London (TfL) to make the engines for new Rousemater buses after impressing bosses with its product's size, weight and fuel efficiency.