Government backs electric car revolution

The government yesterday announced it will back Ford and Nissan in the development of electric cars and environmentally friendly engines, allotting nearly £2bn to the cause in an effort to further green motoring development in the UK.

Ford is preparing to invest £1.5bn into its four UK sites over the course of five years after having received a £360m government loan guarantee.

The move will safeguard many skilled jobs at the Ford plant in Bridgend. Ford of Britain chairman, Joe Greenwell, said: “Our customers will benefit from this extensive investment and so too will the 100,000 people in the UK whose jobs are directly or indirectly dependent on Ford.”

Currently, a quarter of all Ford engines and more than half of all Ford diesel engines are manufactured in the UK. The government investment will serve to facilitate growth in Ford’s already existing research, development and manufacturing of low-CO2 technology for both cars and commercial vehicles. UK government support will also aid the motor company in seeking loan approval from the European Investment Bank, which will allow Ford to continue with its UK investment plan.

Nissan has also benefited from government assistance. The Nissan Leaf, Nissan’s newest electric vehicle and the world’s first mass produced zero emission car, will be manufactured at the company’s Tybe and Wear factory safeguarding 2,250 jobs at the plant.

The decision to produce the five-seater hatchback in its Sunderland plant is strengthened by a £20.7m Grant for Business Investment from the government and a proposed finance package from the European Investment Bank of up to £197.3m.

Nissan also said construction of its advanced lithium-ion battery plant will begin this April.