A CLACKMANNANSHIRE-BASED manufacturer is gearing up to take advantage of growing demand for electric cars as it prepares to move into bigger premises.

The company, 123v, intends to road test its innovative solar power canopies when it moves into its new, 5,000 square foot headquarters in Tillicoultry on Friday, following a £250,000 investment. The canopies are designed to allow drivers to generate electricity for their cars in their garages.

Tillicoultry-bound 123v makes the switch 20 years after the company, which manufactures car doors, glass verandas and canopies, was launched by Robin and Jayne Marlin.

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The husband and wife hope the development of the solar power canopies, which have been given the product name PolySolar, will allow the company to lift turnover beyond £2 million from £1.8m. And the firm declared that the expanded capacity of its new premises would assist with moves to break into the export arena, identifying Spain, France and America as target markets.

The company, which employs 30 staff, has been helped with its expansion plans by advice from Business Gateway Clackmannanshire.

Mr Marlin, chairman and technical director, said: “Our new premises will cement our reputation as one of Scotland’s leading manufacturing businesses, one which has grown over the past 20 years because it has adapted and evolved its offering.

“With interest in electric cars and generating and storing your own electricity increasing, we’ve developed a solar powered door canopy and car port with tinted glass and in-built solar panels that will generate electricity.

“This is where Business Gateway’s help has been fundamental, as its connections led us to PolySolar who will now help us gauge just how much power these products can produce.”

Mr Marlin, a one-time double glazing salesman, and his wife set up the company after he spotted a gap in the market to sell cantilever car ports around Scotland, establishing a small fibre glass factory in the village of Coalsnaughton. But it wasn’t until he completed an HND in civil and structural engineering at Falkirk College in 2001 that the business began to take off.

Mr Marlin noted that online sales now account for 90 per cent of revenue, having generated just five per cent in 2001. He hopes that, with advice from Business Gateway, the company can break into Spain, France and America “where there is huge potential”.