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Technology and manufacturing

Ashwoods Automotive, Exeter

A Devon business driven by success

Mark Roberts

“The reason we moved to Devon was that we needed more space and this was a good central catchment area for the people we needed. We were recruiting heavily at the time and there’s a high calibre of people in this area. We didn’t find it difficult to attract good people by being based in Exeter. “The added extra is that it’s a nice place to live, the natural aspects of Devon, the countryside and the way of life, are a huge pull. We spend a lot of time in the Midlands which really is the automotive centre of the country and so our potential customers are elsewhere, but we have proved we don’t need to be there. I believe we attract people because we are in Devon. It’s got everything.”

Mark Roberts – Managing Director, Ashwoods

Devon may not be the home of Britain’s car industry, but it might just be the future.

ashwoods-eavansOver the past four years Exeter basedAshwoods Automotive has become the UK’s leading supplier of Hybrid commercial vehicles, thanks to its hybrid drive technology.

The company’s latest product, Lightfoot, which has been shown to provide up to 22% fuel savings and enables fleet managers to review the efficiency of its drivers, could soon make Britain’s fleet vehicles among the greenest around.

Although Ashwoods Automotive was originally founded in Somerset in 2003, selling LPG converted vehicles, it was when the company moved to Devon in 2008, that it really took off.

ashwoods-axlecloseupThe firm was looking to expand when it decided to base itself in Devon to move to bigger premises. Its expansion has seen its turnover rise from around £600,000 a year to almost £6 million, and it now employs 30 people.

Taking its hybrid technology into production to fit to commercial vehicles was aided in 2009 by a Government contract from the Technology Strategy Board, supplying its hybrid kit to the Environment Agency and Transport for London among others. It was one of four suppliers that had its product assessed over two years – but it was Ashwoods’ product that came out on top in terms of performance and price, so it was then selected as the sole supplier.

Since January 2010 Ashwoods has supplied over 200 Ashwoods Hybrid Transits to the UK’s largest public sector fleets such as Royal Mail and BT. In November 2011 Ashwoods won a contract to deliver a further 500 Ashwoods Hybrid Transits.

In 2011, Ashwoods won three awards from the Institute of Engineering and Technology, as well as winning a Devon Environmental Business Award for its goods and services.