The Niche Vehicle Network
The network is characterised by low volume production, specialised components, bespoke body and chassis and (in the case of sports cars) a significant proportion of hand-built or hand-finished parts companies.
One area of significant activity within the network is the manufacture of niche premium brand vehicles and sports cars, such as Aston Martin, Morgan Motor Company, Zenos Cars, Westfield Sports Cars, Raw, Ariel, Great British Sportscars and Delta Motorsport. These manufacturers, along with some of their supply chain companies and technology providers, are members of the network.
Our members also include a number of specialist light and heavy commercial vehicle (from trucks and vans) manufacturers, such as Ashwoods (hybrid-electric vans) and Dennis Eagle (refuse trucks), as well as brand leaders in the motorcycle industry, including Norton, Red Cougar and Agility Global.
Niche vehicle manufacturers operate within a well-established and well-defined UK and (in many cases) global market, and have also developed some unique capabilities (such as speed of reaction to specific customer demand). However, many do find it hard to expand into overseas markets due to different requirements of homologation. This makes exporting and overseas expansion cost prohibitive. Whilst a considerable amount of innovation comes from these niche companies, the risks attached to a full R&D effort and subsequent type approval for a single company can stop them investing and act as a barrier to growth.
Supporting The Niche Vehicle Sector
The Niche Vehicle Network aims to promote and stimulate R&D collaboration, in order to give niche companies the ability to not only react to new regulations, innovate and share knowledge but to gain an economy of scale that will allow growth in the lucrative overseas markets. Assisting niche vehicle manufacturers to access to overseas markets is a key focus of the Niche Vehicle Network.
The niche manufacturers are served by a significant SME supply base of specialist companies where craft skills remain prevalent. There is significant potential for collaboration and integration within this sector, including opportunities for joint procurement of common parts, shared quality systems and even shared assembly facilities.
Companies can explore these opportunities by participating in the Niche Vehicle Network, which offers a vibrant forum for the sharing of knowledge and formulating of collaborative approaches, demonstrating the passion and innovation that is alive and well in the UK niche vehicle industry.