Engineering firm Ricardo gained unanimous support from the Adur planning committee for the centre, which will create 56 jobs and safeguard 220 others.
It is hoped the new research and development centre will enable the development of next-generation clean and low-carbon vehicles.
Building is scheduled to be completed and open for business in the second half of 2014.
Managing director Martin Fausset said: “The securing of this planning approval enables the launch of this significant investment and is a crucial milestone in this major project for Ricardo.
“The next generation of road vehicles need to be cleaner and more fuel-efficient than ever before, and the testing technology incorporated within this new state-of-the-art facility will help ensure Ricardo stays at the forefront of this important area of research and development on a global basis.”
On Thursday, the firm announced it had reached an agreement with HORIBA for design, construction and completion of the centre.
Mr Fausset said: “With construction now under way, we look forward to its completion and use by Ricardo engineers over the coming years in continuing to deliver the class-leading fuel-efficient, low-carbon and clean vehicles of tomorrow.”
Adur councillor Brian Coomber said the area ‘should be proud’ of the company.
He said: “This is a world-class company and I am told there is not a car in the world that doesn’t have some element in it that was produced here. We should be proud.”
Adur chairman Mike Mendoza added: “I think we owe a vote of thanks to Ricardo for their continued investment in our district.”
The company received significant financial backing for the project in November, being the only project in the south-east to benefit from the £1bn government grant scheme, the Regional Growth Fund.