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UK government backs Ford's low-carbon vehicle initiative

The government has agreed to back Ford's proposed £1.5bn investment for development of environmental

The government will provide £360m in loan guarantees over five years towards six projects through its Automotive Assistance Programme (AAP), which will will back a proposed loan of £450m which is being considered by the European Investment Bank (EIB).

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

Ford currently provides 29% of the UK's automotive sector research and development. Lord Mandelson, business secretary, 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."

The 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. It also includes investment in production facilities for new lower carbon engines inBridgend, which was also supported by the Welsh Assembly Government last year.

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