The government has announced a £1billion commitment to future automotive technologies, to fund a centre designed to research, develop and commercialise advanced vehicle technology.
Speaking ahead of the Goodwood Festival of Speed this morning, the business secretary Vince Cable said the government and the automotive industry would each invest £500m.
It is expected additional manufacturer activity will attract more than 7600 apprentices and 1700 graduates across the country over the next five years.
The scheme is backed by 27 companies, including Bentley, BMW, Ford, Jaguar Land Rover, Lotus, Morgan, Nissan and Ricardo.
Cable said the announcement forms a framework for long-term thinking that will fuel the renaissance in the UK automotive industry. “It will solve an engineering skills deficit, which will only get more acute as the economy grows out of crisis”, he said.
Former Ford development boss, Richard Parry-Jones, who is part of the project said, “It will aim to bridge the 'Valley of Death' in the UK. We’re very good at inventing, but not so good at transforming those inventions into commercial value. It will take laboratory work to small-scale production. For every £1m spent to invent, it costs £10m to bring small-scale production.”
Parry-Jones said “soft targets” had already been identified in advanced internal combustion engines, energy storage and electrification.
Former Ford boss, Joe Greenwell said the plan would “drive further investment into the supply chain”. The Automotive council said £3bn of contracts could be sourced locally.
The announcement forms part of the government's Driving Success strategy promoting growth and sustainability in the UK automotive industry.
Investment in the UK has totalled more than £6bn over the last two years, resulting in the production of more than 1.58m vehicles. Four out of five vehicles are exported to overseas to more than 100 countries.
Cable said that the existing framework had already inspired confidence in UK automotive. Negotiations on the future of car production at Ellesmere Port have been aided by such a plan. The commitment to APC will grow confidence further.
The Driving Success strategy considers four themes: how vehicles will be powered in the future, how the government and industry can grow the supply chain, to develop skills in the sector and how to maintain the UK's advantage in the sector.