The UK is leading the £62bn autonomous car race

Posted on 5 Apr 2019 by Maddy White

Britain is leading the market for connected and autonomous vehicles, with a £62bn boost to the UK economy by 2030 available, a new report has found.

Britain is leading the autonomous vehicle market - image courtesy of SMMT.
Britain is leading the autonomous vehicle market – image courtesy of SMMT.

The findings published today (5 April) found that the UK is currently driving the advancement of autonomous vehicles, and could potentially be the first market to introduce them on mass.

Self-driving vehicle trials are taking place across the country, with four major testbeds, and over 80 collaborative R&D projects underway. The next step is to move from the testing phase to scaled deployment.

The report delivered by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) and Frost & Sullivan, ranks the UK above other major automotive countries, including Germany, US, Japan and South Korea as a destination for the mass rollout of self-driving cars.

By 2030, it predicts that one in five miles in Britain will be driven via an automated vehicle. Over the next decade, the technology is also set to prevent 47,000 serious accidents and save 3,900 lives in the UK. At the same time, it estimates that 420,000 new jobs will be created in the automotive industry and other sectors such as telecoms and digital services.

However, this potential success hinges on Brexit, a ‘no deal’ exit puts investment and mass rollout at risk, warns the SMMT. The UK’s departure from the EU must be orderly and one that supports the automotive industry and technological collaborations.

Key recommendations of the report include:

  • Updating road traffic laws
  • Improving 4G coverage across all road networks
  • Encouraging local authorities to work with industry to implement urban mobility services


Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, commented: “A transport revolution stands before us as we move to self-driving cars and the UK is in pole position in this £62bn race. Government and industry have already invested millions to lay the foundations, and the opportunities are dramatic – new jobs, economic growth and improvements across society.”

He adds that “the UK’s potential is clear” in that Britain is ahead of many rival nations in its self-driving vehicle testing, however to realise the full benefits of a mass rollout, we must move “fast.”

Infographic courtesy of SMMT