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Government announces £1bn research facility for low-carbon engines

  Wednesday, 17 July 2013

The Government will invest £1bn in a new research facility that will further develop low carbon technologies.

The Advanced Propulsion Centre will be at the centre of cutting-edge motoring technology, in the hope of stimulating the replacement of conventional petrol and diesel engines and reducing our dependence on fossil fuels.

Business secretary, Vince Cable, recently announced that the government will invest £500m in the project over the next ten years.

He hopes that private manufacturers will make a matched investment contribution to the centre, with Nissan, Ford and BMW the first to register their interest, taking the total investment value to £1bn.

The low-carbon industry hopes to see conventional engines disappear by 2040, with the growth of electric and hybrid vehicles already making an impact on the passenger car market.

Hybrid vehicles currently sit in a luxury price bracket, around £5,000-£10,000 more expensive than conventional models of similar specification. Although sales of low-carbon cars are supported with a £5,000 Government Plug-in Car Grant, relatively low production volumes means they are still too expensive for the mass market.

The government will launch an initial £10m competition which will allow manufacturers to design innovative low-carbon vehicles, with the best models put forward for commercial development in the Advanced Propulsion Centre.

The research facility will potentially stimulate the creation of 30,000 jobs, with the aim of driving the Government’s long-term ‘Driving Success’ strategy, which will develop the number of skilled car workers needed to ensure the British car industry’s longer term development.

The government is keen to revitalise our car market, which has seen the majority of production and development move abroad in recent years:

“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,” said Vince Cable.

“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.”

Growth in the UK car market offers the British economy a huge opportunity to diversify its core capabilities, particularly in view of the recent difficulties faced by the financial crisis:

“The motor industry is a major contributor to the UK economy and has been increasing that contribution in a challenging economic environment,” said Mike Baunton, interim chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.

“I am confident that the strategy and the joint investment by government and the industry will make the UK an even more attractive place to design, build and sell automotive components and vehicles”.

The UK now has one of the most successful new car markets in Europe, with easy access to finance and good economic prospects, which is particularly attractive for new car buyers.

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