A CAR parts maker is ready and able to take advantage of increasing demand for hybrid and electric vehicles following a merger, according to its boss.

David Cann said Novares’ Peterlee factory, in east Durham, will play a crucial role in the operator’s future as manufacturers seek out lighter parts to build greener models.

His bullish outlook comes as officials seek to build on the unification of French-owned Mecaplast Group, known for working with marques such as Sunderland-based Nissan, and US firm Key Plastics earlier this year.

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Mr Cann, manager at the Peterlee plant, which employs about 140 staff, said the deal will give the North-East base extra impetus, including scope for more jobs, with a focus on bolstering its range of engine components and plastic trims with lighter goods for more environmentally-friendly cars.

“Novares sends a strong message to customers and stakeholders about our ambitions”, he told The Northern Echo, revealing investments have already been made in equipment at Peterlee to strengthen the manufacturing process.

“It will raise the company to the next level and we are using the tagline ‘beyond plastics’ to reflect that.

“What we are also demonstrating to customers is that we are planning for the growth of the hybrid and electric industry, rather than playing catch up.”

Mr Cann said the Novares venture will provide a greater global presence to maintain customer relations, ensure standards are met and exceeded, and put it in a position to prepare for trends in the automotive sector in the coming decades.

He added: “As Novares, we have a forward thinking brand that will put us in the strongest possible position to expand globally.

“Of course, for the Peterlee plant, this will guarantee our future as well as our long-term growth in capital infrastructure and personnel.”

The Echo previously reported how Mecaplast had spent £6m to extend its North-East factory after securing new work from Nissan to help fit out models, and had bought machinery and invested in staff training ahead of a separate deal with Jaguar Land Rover.