Innovative Ballymena bus maker the Wrights Group has confirmed its aim to expand its international business with a significant programme to develop and manufacture electric zero emission vehicles for global markets.
Backed by a £5.5 million grant from Invest NI, the business will also train and upskill staff as it bids to increase its share in the growing sector.
“This investment marks an exciting new stage in the future direction of the business,” said Mark Nodder, chairman and CEO of the Wrights Group.
“Our ambition is to grow as a world class designer and manufacturer of public transport vehicles and in the process evolve into a major international supplier to the worldwide bus market.”
Support from Invest NI for the firm’s R&D and training activities was enabling it to scale the business at the optimum pace to grow its customer base in international markets, he said.
“UK, Asian and European Union markets present significant commercial opportunities for the introduction of electric vehicles and we want to be able to offer these prospective customers a complete suite of vehicles with this technology.”
Commenting on the investment, Invest NI chief executive Alastair Hamilton said: “The Wrights Group is an internationally renowned advanced engineering business and a significant employer in County Antrim.
“Zero emission vehicle development is now a major area of interest within the transport industry and Wrightbus is at the forefront of this technology.
“Its progressive R&D and skills projects, supported by Invest NI, will support the company’s export ambitions and ensure it is positioned to compete for the expected increase in global demand for electric vehicles.”
Invest NI has offered the Wrights more than £1.4 million towards its research and development activities and to support Wrightbus’ investment in skills and training, part funded by the European Regional Development Fund.