CAR giant Nissan is set to lead the way after the Government announced a £1bn low carbon fund for vehicle manufacturers.
The Government and the automotive industry will invest £500m each over the next 10 years in an Advanced Propulsion Centre to research, develop and commercialise the technologies for vehicles of the future.
This financial commitment is backed by 27 firms in the motor industry sector, including supply chain companies, and it is expected to secure at least 30,000 jobs currently linked to producing engines.
Whitehall chiefs also believe the move will create many more job opportunities in the supply chain.
The money will help turn research on subjects such as advanced internal combustion engines, energy storage and electrification into real changes for the car industry in the coming years.
Nissan was among those welcoming the move, although it is yet to be confirmed how much money the Sunderland-based manufacturer will contribute or receive under the project.
John Martin, senior vice president for manufacturing in Europe, said: “Nissan was involved with the UK Government in developing the UK automotive industrial strategy which has been published.
“As the largest car manufacturer in the history of the UK motor industry we are fully committed to supporting its implementation.
“The leadership and support from the Government at all levels in developing the strategy has been fantastic and has really helped to understand and prioritise the long term issues that the nation and the industry have to tackle to maintain the UK’s leadership in vehicle and engine manufacturing.”
Nissan has already benefited hugely from Government investment, with help for a electric battery centre, help bringing electric vehicle manufacture to the North East and a commitment to rolling out a network of charging points.
The Department for Business has also announced that the Automotive Council, co-chaired by Business Secretary Vince Cable and Professor Richard Parry-Jones, is aiming to recruit more than 7,600 apprentices and 1,700 graduates over the next five years.
In addition, the newly-created Automotive Investment Organisation will aim to double the number of jobs created or secured in the automotive supply chain over the next three years to 15,000.
Mr Cable said: “The UK automotive sector has been incredibly successful in recent times, with billions of pounds of investment and new jobs. This has been achieved by Government and industry working together.
“With the next generation of vehicles set to be powered by radically different technologies we need to maintain this momentum and act now. Our industrial strategy will ensure we keep on working together to make our automotive industry a world leader.”
Prof Parry-Jones said: “Businesses prefer consistency, stability and a clear path to the future in order to make investment plans.
“Driving Success, the automotive industrial strategy, sets out how industry will work together with government over the next 20 or 30 years. This is critical to sustaining and growing a thriving UK automotive sector in a highly competitive global industry.”
TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said the investment was long overdue.
She said: “It’s great to see ministers finally recognise that Government can play an active role in driving growth, backed up by a proper industrial strategy and genuine investment. This marks a welcome break from the failed laissez-faire approach that has caused so much damage to the UK’s industrial base.
“What we now need is for more investment across all industries to drive skilled job creation and more opportunities for young people.”
The support from the Government at all levels in developing the strategy has been fantastic