Car makers to invest billions in UK

A need for greener, less polluting vehicles has sparked news of huge investments in the UK motor industry by two of the country's biggest car makers.

The motor industry's transformation to a more sustainable model calls for investment in new technology and now Ford and Nissan have announced they will use the UK as a development base - safeguarding thousands of jobs.

The US and Japanese companies, which have extensive manufacturing sites in the UK, will receive Government support as they look to spend almost £2 billion to develop new environmentally friendly engines and a new electric car.

Nissan will produce its electric car, the Leaf, at its plant in Sunderland. It has plans to make up to 50,000 vehicles and 60,000 batteries a year which will help to safeguard and create over 550 skilled jobs at the North East plant.

Business Secretary Lord Mandelson said the Government has agreed to back Ford's proposed £1.5 billion investment over five years for development of a new generation of environmentally friendly engines and vehicle technologies.

The Government will provide £360 million in loan guarantees towards six projects through its Automotive Assistance Programme, backing a proposed loan of £450 million which is being considered by the European Investment Bank.

Ford's plans will safeguard around 2,800 skilled jobs in the UK at its research and development centre at Dunton in Essex as well as its manufacturing plants in Dagenham, Essex, Southampton and Bridgend in South Wales.

Ford projects to be supported cover research and development for Ford's commercial vehicles such as the Transit and Connect vans and the development of low carbon emission diesel and petrol engines.

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