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Mitsubishi set to invest £20m at Livingston base

Mitsubishi is investing £20m at its Scottish base and looking to create a further 100 jobs as it builds a centre of design excellence at Livingston.

SMASHING: Enterprise minister Fergus Ewing celebrates the launch of the new Mitsubishi R&D facility with Masataka Tarahara, Japanese consulate general in Edinburgh, and Dr Kazuhiko Tsutsumi of Mitsubishi. Picture: Steve Cox
SMASHING: Enterprise minister Fergus Ewing celebrates the launch of the new Mitsubishi R&D facility with Masataka Tarahara, Japanese consulate general in Edinburgh, and Dr Kazuhiko Tsutsumi of Mitsubishi. Picture: Steve Cox

The Japanese company, in Scotland since it began making video-recorders at Livingston in 1975, has marked the twentieth anniversary of its air conditioning plant on the site with the announcement of a major expansion.

Mitsubishi Electric Air-Conditioning Europe has opened a world-class research and development facility in the form of two highly-instrumented test houses, located next to its factory, where it will develop a new range of renewable air to water heat pumps.

Currently 10% of its Scottish output, the heat pumps business along with the transfer of high-end design functions from Japan could see another 100 jobs created over the next two years to add to the 450 employed at the site.

Iain Riddle, Mitsubishi's general affairs manager in Scotland, said: "We are still principally an air-conditioning manufacturer, one of four factories throughout the world with Thailand, China and Japan, but there is a strategy now to transfer products from the Japanese factory to us, that is part of our expansion."

He went on: "Part of the strategy has been to develop the design capabilities of the various factories, which is unusual for a Japanese company."

The Scottish centre would be able to respond "more nimbly" to the requirements of European markets, such as differing standards in countries such as Sweden and Germany, Mr Riddle said.

He expected a quadrupling over the next four years in production of heat pumps, currently 10% of output, which were aimed at the full domestic heating market.

The site produces almost 150,000 aircon units a year for residential, commercial and industrial users primarily in continental Europe, Scandinavia, the Middle East and Southern Africa.

The company says the new range of renewable pumps will give "increased opportunities for the company to tap in to the domestic heating sector in these markets".

Mitsubishi says the moves are part of a longer term plan for the creation of a centre of design excellence outside Japan.

"With its R&D, design and manufacturing teams operating together at the same location, the Scottish site is unique within Mitsubishi Electric globally and is now better placed to respond to the demands of the European market," the company said. "In addition, the company is committed to investing £20m in its Scottish base to continue its expansion and development of new products in Scotland."

Speaking at the launch, enterprise minister Fergus Ewing said Mitsubishi made a "considerable contribution to the Scottish economy" and he welcomed its continued commitment to manufacturing. He added: "The Scottish Government strongly supports the introduction of renewable heat technologies as they can make a huge contribution to our national emission reduction targets."

Mitsubishi Electric maintains strong links with West Lothian College through its engineering apprentice training programme and has also partnered with Heriot-Watt University, which boasts world class expertise in the area of building thermal comfort and low carbon homes.

Hiroyuki Umemura, president of living environment & digital media equipment at Mitsubishi, said Livingston would "play a very important role as a supply base in Europe".

Dr Kazuhiko Tsutsumi, president of Mitsubishi's corporate research & development group, said: "The ability for close co-operation between research and manufacturing will speed up the product development cycle in Scotland.

"We anticipate that Scotland's excellent universities will provide a highly educated pool of talent that we hope to attract to support our future expansion."

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