Ford says it is preparing to invest GBP1.5bn in its four UK facilities over the next five years after securing a GBP360m UK government loan guarantee.

Secretary of State for Business, Peter Mandelson, announced the GBP360m backing of Ford’s GBP450m application to the European Investment Bank (EIB) at the company’s Ford Dagenham site today.

Ford said that support from the UK government is a major step in seeking loan approval from the EIB which will allow Ford to proceed with its UK investment strategy.

Ford Dagenham is one of four UK sites covering research, development and manufacture of low-CO2 technology for both cars and commercial vehicles.

Ford’s research and development centre in Dunton, Essex, is the country’s largest automotive engineering facility, and Ford products are assembled in Dagenham, Southampton and Bridgend.

Dagenham’s frugal diesel engines, emitting as little as 98g CO2/km, feature in Ford’s economical Fiesta and Focus ECOnetic models. Fuel-saving ECOnetic technology has recently been extended to Ford’s commercial vehicles including the Southampton-produced Ford Transit ECOnetic which went on sale last year.

Ford Bridgend is gearing up for production of the new EcoBoost petrol engine, which will offer CO2 and fuel savings of up to 20 per cent compared with conventional petrol-engine technology. It will debut in the new Ford C-MAX this autumn.

Ford has applied for a total of GBP450m from the EIB, which offers loans – repayable on commercial terms – targeting projects that improve fuel efficiency and reduce emissions. In support of the application, Ford has secured the GBP360m guarantee for its EIB loan through the UK Government’s Automotive Assistance Programme (AAP).

Ford of Britain chairman, Joe Greenwell, said: “Ford welcomes this positive support from the Government. It greatly assists in delivering Ford’s commitment to invest GBP1.5bn in new, affordable, volume-produced low CO2 technologies.

“Our customers will benefit from this extensive investment and so too will the 100,000 people in the UK whose jobs are directly or indirectly dependent on Ford. The loan also encourages the growth of high-technology, CO2-reducing research and development in the country.

“But perhaps most importantly the overall environment will benefit thanks to the mass-deployment, volume-produced emission-reducing technologies from Ford.

“The government’s support of Ford’s EIB loan application demonstrates its commitment to addressing the strategic needs of the UK automotive industry when it comes to supporting affordable CO2 reducing technologies,” he added.