BUSINESS leaders yesterday backed a £1 billion motor industry initiative that could lead to the creation of thousands of jobs.
The UK government and the automotive industry will invest £500 million each over the next ten years in an Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC) to research, develop and commercialise the technologies for the vehicles of the future.
The financial commitment is being backed by 27 companies in the sector, including supply chain firms, and it is expected to secure at least 30,000 jobs currently linked to producing engines and create many more in the supply chain.
It was also announced yesterday 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. Katja Hall, chief policy director at the CBI, said the plans presented a “bold vision for long-term growth right across the automotive sector”.
She added: “The £1bn investment in a new centre for cutting-edge engine technologies should go a long way towards making the UK a globally-competitive place for automotive research and development. Strengthening the supply chain is rightly identified as a major priority. The creation of the new Automotive Investment Organisation will help, alongside action to improve suppliers’ access to finance and delivering on the skills roadmap.”
Mike Baunton, interim chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, said: “The motor industry is a major contributor to the UK economy and has been increasing that contribution in a challenging economic environment.
“In partnership with government, we have now developed a road map to secure further long-term growth that is detailed in the strategy document launched today. Our goals are to grow vehicle production and component supply with more investment, jobs and advanced technology developed in the UK.”
In a further announcement, the Technology Strategy Board yesterday launched a £10m competition that could see successful projects fast-tracked for commercialisation through the APC. Businesses are being invited to bid for support on innovative, collaborative low-carbon vehicle projects.
Unveiling the initiative at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in West Sussex, 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.”