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Cable announces £1 billion car industry investment

Business secretary Vince Cable has announced a £1 billion project to research new low-carbon engine technologies. The cash comes from a joint industry and government venture, with each putting up £500 million. The focus of the new venture will be a research facility with the brief to find the successors to today's petrol and diesel engines.

Business secretary Vince Cable has announced a £1 billion project to research new low-carbon engine technologies. The cash comes from a joint industry and government venture, with each putting up £500 million. The focus of the new venture will be a research facility with the brief to find the successors to today's petrol and diesel engines. The cash will be invested in the proposed new 'Advanced Propulsion Centre' over the next ten years. Although the finer details have still to be ironed out, it appears that car giants like Ford, BMW and Nissan have already agreed in principle to match the government's £500 million spend over the next decade. The first project will be a £10 million competition to design new low carbon vehicles, which can then be developed at the Propulsion Centre.

According to the government, the project will secure some 30,000 UK jobs in the engine manufacturing sector, where Britain is already a major player. The motor industry has previously indicated that it expects these traditional engines to disappear by 2040 and it is therefore seen as vital that the UK is positioned as a leader in the replacement technologies. The announcement was made as Mr Cable joined car industry leaders to unveil the new centre as part of the wider 'Driving Success' initiative, which is focused on improving the UK's shortage of skilled workers in engineering. The same initiative aims to tackle a supply industry where only 30% of parts are manufactured in the UK.

Mr Cable commented: "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."

Mr Cable's co-chair of the Automotive Council, former Ford executive Professor Richard Parry-Jones, added that the new industrial strategy and co-operation between government and industry was 'critical to sustaining and growing a thriving UK automotive sector in a highly competitive global industry'. He continued: "Businesses prefer consistency, stability and a clear path to the future in order to make investment plans." With the UK car industry showing continued growth, in direct contrast to the rest of the EU, it is clear that the government has identified the sector as a key element in rebalancing the UK economy away from financial services.

 

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