Low carbon future for West Midlands

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Business secretary Lord Mandelson has unveiled ambitious plans to make the West Midlands a leader in low carbon technologies which will have significant supply chain implications.

A key element is the creation of a Low Carbon Economic Area for Advanced Automotive Engineering. Advantage West Midlands, the regional development agency is investing £19.5 million in a Low Carbon Vehicles Technology (LCVT) programme, which will accelerate the development and introduction of next-generation low carbon vehicles through advances in key technology platforms in areas such as batteries, motors and aerodynamics.

Independent research on the LCVTP estimates it will create between 3,000 and 11,500 jobs in the UK by 2020, with the majority of those being in the West Midlands. At the same time, it will safeguard jobs in the supply chain as businesses switch to low carbon opportunities. Research estimates wealth creation of between £690m and £2.8bn.

Visiting the International Manufacturing Centre at the University of Warwick to launch the LCEA, Lord Mandelson said: “I want to see the Midlands help the UK to lead the global automotive industry in the transition from conventional to low carbon vehicle technologies.

“The move towards a low carbon economy presents huge opportunities. This new funding will help secure the Midlands’ 10,000 existing car industry jobs, by helping transform them into the green car jobs of the future.”

Partners in the LCVTP include Jaguar Land Rover, Tata Motors, Zytek, Ricardo, MIRA, WMG at the University of Warwick, and Coventry University. The project will also involve UK suppliers.

Mick Laverty, chief executive at Advantage West Midlands, said: “This is great news and reflects the real strengths of the West and East Midlands regions in automotive manufacturing. Becoming a Low Carbon Economic Area will reinforce our growing reputation as globally competitive regions, which continue to develop cutting-edge green technologies and high technology industries upon which the future prosperity of all UK regions will depend.

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