Bentley is one of the automotive companies to win RGF funding

Performance car manufacturers Lotus and Bentley are among the automotive companies that have been awarded conditional grants from the government's £1.4bn Regional Growth Fund.

Lotus will use its grant for research which will support the production of its new five-model range. The company says the grant will help to ensure Lotus manufacturing remains in the UK "for the foreseeable future" and it will create "a considerable number"
 of new jobs at the company's headquarters at Hethel, Norfolk over the next five to six years.

Group Lotus CEO Dany Bahar said: "This funding will play a role in assisting with the realisation of our
 business plan to produce a new range of sports cars with best in class performance and emissions."

Bentley's grant, worth £3m, will support the development of a new powertrain aimed at China and other emerging markets. It will safeguard over 200 jobs and also create a small number of additional positions within the company's 900-strong engineering department at Crewe, Cheshire.

"Our customers expect the very best in terms of exclusivity, technology, quality and engineering excellence which requires significant ongoing investment in R&D," said Bentley chairman Wolfgang Dürheimer. "This is why we retain such a strong engineering capability exclusively for Bentley here in the UK. This grant will help safeguard those operations as we look to develop new powertrains which appeal to new markets and new customers."

Bentley has the third biggest R&D spend in the UK automotive sector and is the 18th biggest investor in R&D of all UK companies. The company exports more than 80% of its production.

Other automotive companies to secure funding from the Regional Growth Fund are:

  • JC Bamford (makers of JCB excavators)
  • Pirelli (tyres)
  • Cummins (makers of diesel engines and turbochargers)
  • TRW (automotive electronics)
  • Zytek (electric vehicle powertrains)
  • Getrag (transmissions)