India’s Tata group is to set up a development centre in the UK Midlands to capitalise on new ideas in automotive engineering and technology in Europe.

When the centre is fully operational, it is expected to employ more than 1,000 people providing development expertise for the Tata conglomerate, which spans vehicles, steel and IT.

The US$6m project near Coventry reinforces Tata’s commitment to the UK market following the collapse of a car distribution deal with Rover, the British carmaker, which went into receivership this year. It will initially have 50 to 150 workers.

Recruitment has begun for the centre, though a date has yet to be set for its opening.

“Though there is no [British-owned] automobile industry, we were really surprised at the level of technology skills in the UK, with a strong base there that does lots of work for [companies in] Europe,” said Ratan Tata, chairman of Tata.

He suggested that the centre would be able to leverage ideas from high-technology Britain and combine it with the lower-cost aspects of doing engineering design work in India, offering a combination of benefits to Tata’s global customers that source purely from India.

“We would create a focal point for technology that would still have a strong connection with India,” said Mr Tata. “The idea is to plug into technology at a higher level than is possible in India.”

The centre would focus on automotive areas such as body engineering, transmission and gear boxes and final styling.

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