ELECTRIC vehicle parts maker Sevcon has bucked the economic downturn by reporting a third consecutive year of growth.

The firm continued to make progress in the on-road electric and hybrid vehicle market, seeing a rise in revenues of 10 per cent to £22m to the end of September, despite more challenging conditions in the off-road electric vehicle market, which includes construction and factory vehicles.

The firm's year-end results showed profits rose to £740,000 compared to £442,000 in the previous year, but the Team Valley-based company’s performance was held back after global economic uncertainty caused a slow fourth quarter, with a drop in revenues to £4.97m compared with £5.8m the previous year.

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The NASDAQ-listed company was launched North-East more than 50 years ago, and is still based in the region, where it employs more than half of its 110 staff.

Sevcon’s range of motor controllers for electric and hybrid vehicles, which are designed by its engineers in Gateshead.

Sevcon’s president and chief executive officer Matt Boyle said: “We concluded a year of 10 per cent revenue growth although with a weak fourth quarter as the macroeconomic environment in our key geographic markets affected both the off-road and on-road segments of our business.

"Reflecting the continued global slowdown in construction and mining activity, we continued to experience soft product demand for traditional off-road industrial EV (electric vehicle) applications during the quarter. “A bright spot in our traditional markets was an improvement in shipments to our fork lift truck customers in North America and the Far East.”

He said the firm had a strategy for the adverse economic conditions.

"Our plan for navigating this challenging environment is to remain focused on the areas within our control, starting with our project pipeline, which includes an expanding range of active projects with OEM and Tier 1 automotive suppliers in Europe, Asia and North America. In addition to on-road EV applications, these projects involve some potentially important new products in the industrial off-road sector."