UK business secretary Lord Mandelson has announced that the government has agreed to back Ford’s proposed five-year, £1.5bn investment to develop a new generation of environmentally friendly engines and vehicle technologies.
The government is to provide £360m in loan guarantees towards six projects through its Automotive Assistance Programme (AAP), an investment programme supporting up to £2.3bn of investment in the UK automotive sector by providing loan guarantees and, exceptionally, loans.
The guarantee will back a proposed loan of £450m, which is being considered by the European Investment Bank.
Ford’s plans will safeguard around 2,800 skilled jobs in the UK at its R&D centre at Dunton in Essex as well as its manufacturing plants in Dagenham, Southampton and Bridgend in south Wales.
The projects to be supported cover R&D for Ford’s commercial vehicles such as the Transit and Connect vans and the development of low-carbon emission diesel and petrol engines. This includes investment in production facilities for new lower-carbon engines in Bridgend, which was also supported by the Welsh assembly government last year. Currently, 25 per cent of all Ford engines worldwide and more than 50 per cent of all Ford diesel engines are made in the UK.
Around 100,000 people are employed either directly or indirectly by Ford in product development, manufacturing, sales and marketing and service roles. The company produces around a million diesel engines a year from a 1.4, up to a high-performance V8 unit. Dagenham is also Ford’s UK transport hub with thousands of vehicles, engines and components passing in and out daily.