Ford is to spend at least GBP1bn developing a range of global environmental technologies in the UK for its Ford, Jaguar, Land Rover and Volvo brands. The company said it was the largest commitment ever to the environment by a car maker in the UK.

The engineering programme doubles the rate of environmental spending in the past and is part of a broad strategy for the company's Ford of Europe and PAG business units to deliver a variety of technologies including lightweight, hybrid electric and bio-fuel vehicles.

The plan is for a collaboration between the 9,500 engineers that work at Ford, Jaguar and Land Rover R&D centres in the UK. The broader strategy will also bring together engineers from Volvo in Sweden and Ford's engineering bases in Europe and worldwide.

It is envisanged that their combined actions will deliver over 100 models and derivatives that offer improved emissions or fuel economy performance, including for example, a regular Ford Focus, capable of more than 70 miles per gallon.

"Climate change is one of the greatest single challenges facing the auto industry and society today," said Ford of Europe and Premier Automotive group chairman and CEO Lewis Booth speaking at today's (17 July) announcement in London. "A broad business strategy that serves all our brands is the only way we can achieve the level of improvement in emissions and fuel economy required.

"We are not going to introduce just one or two high-profile green cars that sell in relatively low numbers and leave it at that. To tackle this issue, we are getting our 3,700 R&D people in Essex, our 2,000 engineers in Coventry and our 3,300 engineers in Warwickshire to work together. By pooling our engineering investment, our brands will develop a broader range of technologies, available faster than they could afford individually. And by deploying these technologies across the breadth of our product range - mass market and premium products, passenger cars and commercial vehicles - we can deliver far more significant reductions in the total amount of CO 2 generated by our total vehicle fleet. We can also help reduce our customers' consumption of fossil fuels, which saves them money."

Booth continued: "In the future, a regular Ford Focus will be capable of emitting less than 100g/km of CO 2, more than 20% better than today's model - that's the equivalent of getting over 70 mpg."