Ford's decision to spend £1 billion in Britain on researching and developing greener cars could spark a rush by other major manufacturers to invest in the country, a leading industry figure said yesterday.
"We have got the engineering know-how in Britain to make plans to develop a new generation of eco-friendly cars a reality," said Christopher Macgowan, chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.
"I have worked out that Ford will spend half a million pounds a day for six years in Britain solely on improving the environment," Mr Macgowan said.
"Britain is absolutely the world leader in motorsport technology and that expertise could now well be used to make us the world leader in developing new eco-friendly engines and fuels."
Jaguar's research and development centre at Whit-ley, Coventry and its Land Rover counterpart at Gaydon in Warwickshire, will be at the heart of Ford's research and development programme.
Work will also be carried out at Ford's centre at Dunton in Essex.
Ford said on Monday that the decision to make Britain its global base for developing greener engines and fuels will help to safeguard more than 9,000 engineering jobs.
Meanwhile, Mr Macgowan said that the SMMT would announce in December whether future British Motor Shows take place at the ExCel Centre in London's Docklands.
ExCel won the right to stage the event last year, ending its 28-year link with the National Exhibition Centre.
The SMMT has a rolling ten-year contract with ExCel to stage motor shows, but has the right to pull out immediately if this year's event does not hit its attendance target of 500,000.
It is widely believed that previous management at the NEC lost the right to stage the Motor Show because they had begun to take the event for granted.
But since then, the SMMT's relationship with the NEC has improved, Mr Macgowan said.
"I very much respect the years we had at Birmingham, but life moves on.
"The decision to come to ExCel was based on the facilities it offered.
"We have kept our links with the NEC through the annual Commercial Vehicle Show which is still proving to be very successful.
"We have noticed a complete sea-change in the NEC's approach to us."
SMMT executives will assess the success of this year's event within a week of the show closing on July 30.
Responding to complaints that visitors from outside the South-east found it hard to get to the Docklands location, Mr Macgowan said: "We have an enormous weight of population around here, and you can't argue with the demographics."