An innovative vehicle emissions research centre (VERC) in Shoreham has gained major financial backing as part of a £1bn government growth scheme.
The £10m facility at engineering firm Ricardo was the only project in the south east out of 130 in the UK to be approved.
It will enable significant development towards next-generation low carbon cars, with specific focus on creating hybrid four-wheel drive and advanced technology vehicles.
According to the company’s UK director, Martin Fausset, the new VERC centre will enable it to both meet ever-increasing emissions regulations and maintain its position as a global exporter at the forefront of developing green tech solutions.
He said: “Ricardo is a world leader in the development of the type of clean, low-carbon automotive technology that will enable the next generation of road vehicles to have lower emissions and be more fuel efficient than ever before.
“The award of funding for the development of our state-of-the-art vehicle emission research centre under the UK Government Regional Growth Fund will enable Ricardo to continue to lead the world’s auto industry in this vital area and in doing so create and sustain high-quality employment opportunities in this nationally-important sector, many of such jobs being in support of export customers.
“Ricardo has been an important part of the West Sussex coastal economy for almost a century, and this new development will help us to continue to fulfil this role and grow our capability in a globally competitive context.”
During a visit to the company with Vince Cable last month, deputy prime minister Nick Clegg praised its facilities.
He said: “This cash injection for Ricardo UK is part of a major Government drive to create and protect thousands of jobs that will last in the parts of the country where they’re needed most.
“For too long the UK economy has been focused on the City of London, ignoring places where business can thrive. The Regional Growth Fund taps into that potential, so that places like Shoreham-by-Sea and the surrounding area can benefit.
Shoreham and East Worthing MP Tim Loughton added: “This is fantastic news for Ricardo and the local economy. Ricardo is a world leader in engineering and will now be able to create even more vital jobs for the local community as well as leading the way to the next generation of low carbon vehicles.
“It is a real tribute that the company is only one of three to receive such a grant in the South East of England, as in the past it has always been companies in the North of the country that have benefited.”