BIRMINGHAM'S automotive industry has been given an £80million cash injection to help develop green technologies.

The money will go towards research into low carbon vehicles, energy efficiency and reducing emissions.

Regional development agency Advantage West Midlands (AWM) has joined forces with the region’s biggest car producer Jaguar Land Rover to provide funding for the scheme, which will also include a new development centre.

The investment, comprising £30million from AWM and an initial £50 million from Land Rover, is expected to grow over the coming months as other automotive businesses from across Britain join in.

The announcement yesterday comes just a fortnight after Land Rover announced 400 job cuts across its UK operations.

Minister for the West Midlands Ian Austin MP, who unveiled the new project at Land Rover’s plant in Solihull, said: “I think this is really good news for the West Midlands and I am delighted to see firms like Land Rover make this serious commitment to clean technologies.

“I want our region to lead the way in developing the new technologies and creating the new jobs on which our prosperity will depend and it is exactly the sort of step we need to make if we are going to make sure we have high-tech industries and highly-skilled and well-paid jobs in the West Midlands”

The programme will create a new low carbon vehicle development and proving centre, the site of which has yet to be confirmed.

It will focus on experiments with lightweight structures and will link fresh research into green technology with current manufacturing facilities.

David Smith, chief executive of Jaguar Land Rover, said: “I am delighted this initiative by AWM will bring support to the international competitiveness of our automotive industry by focusing on the high skill level we have in this region with vital future technologies.

“For Jaguar Land Rover, this announcement is a natural extension of the £800 million investment we have already made in developing environmental technologies such as light-weighting of vehicle components, electrification, advanced combustion and intelligent telematics.

“These and many other technologies that will become reality through such initiatives, will greatly increase the efficiency of future vehicles.”

The programme will link in with other environmentally friendly ventures including the Premium Automotive Research and Development operation based at Warwick University and the £12.5 million Centre of Excellence in Lightweight Vehicle Technologies.

Mick Laverty, chief executive of Advantage West Midlands, added “The West Midlands is embracing the opportunities of the low carbon era and we are delighted to work with leading companies such as Land Rover in this area.”