The government will invest £10 million in automotive research and development (R&D) as part of a “green recovery” from the Covid-19 pandemic. The Department for Transport (DfT) says the cash will be spent helping existing companies develop “cutting-edge ideas” and bring them to the market.

In particular, the DfT says these ideas will include developments in battery and motor technology for electric vehicles. Firms wanting a slice of the government’s investment, though, will have to bid for the money.

The extra cash for the car industry comes alongside another £340 million of spending on decarbonisation, including a £149 million investment to “drive the use of “innovative materials” in heavy industry. Such ideas include developing recyclable steel and re-using waste ash in the ceramics and glass industries.

The funding also includes a £139 million spend on cutting heavy industry emissions by supporting the transition from natural gas to hydrogen power, as well as “scaling up” carbon capture and storage technology.

These plans were announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson yesterday (July 22), as he launched the first meeting of the Jet Zero council. The scheme will see government representatives mix with the aviation industry to tackle emissions from aircraft. Eventually, the government wants to see zero-emission long-haul passenger planes take to the skies above Britain.

Commercial vehicles on the A30 at London Heathrow Airport as airplane passes overhead

“We’ve made great strides towards our net zero target over the last year, but it’s more important than ever that we keep up the pace of change to fuel a green, sustainable recovery as we rebuild from the pandemic,” said the PM. “The UK now has a huge opportunity to cement its place at the vanguard of green innovation, setting an example worldwide while growing the economy and creating new jobs.

“That’s why we’re backing cutting edge research to cut costs and carbon across our great British industries, and even paving the way for the first ever zero emission long haul passenger flight – so that our green ambitions remain sky high as we build back better for both our people and our planet.”

First electric van prototypes in build at LEVC

Meanwhile, Business and Energy Secretary, Alok Sharma, said the investment would create jobs in green industries and allow the UK to make a “clean” recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

“Climate change is among the greatest challenges of our age,” he said. “To tackle it we need to unleash innovation in businesses across the country. This funding will reduce emissions, create green collar jobs and fuel a strong, clean economic recovery – all essential to achieving net zero emissions by 2050.”