Sustainable bus maker Wrightbus has today secured a £50m government-backed loan to turbocharge exports of electric and hydrogen-powered buses.
The agreement will see the UK’s Export Finance (UKEF) agency guarantee 80 per cent of the loan, from Barclays bank.
The firm said the backing will allow it to deliver orders to new markets including Germany and North America and boost exports to Singapore and Hong Kong.
Jean-Marc Gales, Wrightbus CEO, said: “UKEF and Barclays’ support has been fundamental to the development of Wrightbus. The flexible products suit the needs of our business, which is growing exponentially and requires financial headroom.”
The sustainable bus manufacturer has been a leader in pioneering hydrogen and zero-emission vehicles in the bus and automotive sector. In 2020, the group made national headlines, after building the world’s first hydrogen-powered double decker bus.
This February, it announced plans to develop a green hydrogen production facility at its Ballymena factory.
Lord Johnson, minister for investment, said: “Wrightbus is a fantastic example of a British business seizing the vast exporting opportunities around the world and embracing clean growth.”
“UK Export Finance support for Wrightbus will be a great boost to its exporting journey, helping the company to create more local growth and jobs.”
Wrightbus said it aims to expand its workforce in the announcement, with 1,000 new green-related jobs added by 2026, predominately at the company’s headquarters in Ballymena.
The Northern-Ireland based firm also outlined plans to grow revenues by nearly a fifth by the end of 2023, with a target of generating 27 per cent of its revenues from exports.
Wrightbus previously set the goal of manufacturing 3,000 zero-emissions buses by 2024, which would comprise 10 per cent of the UK’s total fleet.
Johnson added: “This is the type of success we will build on at this autumn’s Northern Ireland Investment Summit, which will be a catalyst for securing more investment, creating more jobs and empowering more businesses to seize exporting opportunities.”
Last year the government announced a £26m financial package to help the firm expand its operations into the EU and Asia.
The UK government launched a new hydrogen strategy in 2021, which formed part of its broader 2050 net zero programme.