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18 March, 2010 - 13:44 By Staff Reporter

Ford's Essex bases to benefit from £1.5bn investment

Lord Mandelson greets Joe Greenwell, Chairman, Ford of Britain

Ford's Essex bases are to be major beneficiaries of plans announced by the US car giant to plough £1.5bn into the development of next-generation clean engines at its four UK facilities.

The investment will cover research and development for Ford's commercial vehicles and the development of low carbon emission diesel and petrol engines.

Ford's Dunton Technical Centre, in Essex - based on a 270-acre site near Basildon and employing around 2,800 - is the country's largest automotive engineering facility, while the 1,900 plus employed at its Dagenham Engine plant have spearheaded the development of Ford's low-emissions diesel engine. The car company's other UK bases are in Southampton and Bridgend in South Wales.

The £1.5bn the company is preparing to invest in its UK plants over the next five years has been partly underwritten by the Government, which is providing a £360 million guarantee for a £450m loan from the European Investment Bank (EIB), under its Automotive Assistance Programme.

Ford's application will be considered by the EIB's board of directors next month. The projects are being considered under the EIB's European Clean Transport Facility, Unique Commercial Vehicle Projects and Convergence Projects.

Ford of Britain chairman, Joe Greenwell, said: "Ford welcomes this positive support from the Government. It greatly assists in delivering Ford's commitment to invest £1.5 billion in new, affordable, volume-produced low CO2 technologies.

"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. The loan also encourages the growth of high-technology, CO2-reducing research and development in the country."

Currently 25 per cent of all Ford engines worldwide and over 50 per cent of all Ford diesel engines are made in the UK.

Dagenham, which has received investment of over £644m since becoming Ford's diesel centre of development & manufacturing excellence in 2003, is also its UK transport hub with thousands of vehicles, engines and components passing in and out daily. Ford spends over £400 million in R&D in the UK.

Lord Mandelson said: "Ford is a major investor in research and development in the UK. Its proposals represent further significant investment in the UK. The Government stands ready and willing to support these innovative R&D projects backed by a highly skilled workforce."

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