UK builds national cluster for connected and autonomous vehicle development

04 April 2017

4 April 2017

The UK government has outlined its strategy to create a ′cluster of excellence’ of companies in the UK’s automotive heartland to act as a global hub to develop technologies for connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs).

As part of this, UK business secretary Greg Clark has launched the first competition to access the initial £55 million (€64 million) from the government’s £200 million (€234 million) four-year investment programme to establish a national ecosystem of test facilities for connected and autonomous vehicles. The government is providing £100 million in funding, which is being matched by industry.

The CAV cluster will centre on the London-Birmingham M40 motorway corridor in the West Midlands, encompassing Coventry, Birmingham, Milton Keynes, plus Oxford and London. It was announced by Clark at the SMMT Connected conference to an international audience of more than 400 industry leaders, from both the automotive and technology sectors.

Clark said: ′By 2035 the global market for connected and autonomous vehicle technologies is predicted to be worth £63 billion. Our investment and collaboration with industry [will] build on our strengths and create a cluster of excellence that will ensure we are at the forefront of its development and perfectly positioned to lead and capitalise on this market.’

His ambition is for the UK to be ′one of the world’s ‘go-to’ destinations for testing driverless car technology, now and in the future.’

The creation of the CAV testing facility network forms part of the UK government’s industrial strategy, with a commitment in the late-2016 autumn statement budget to build up the UK’s world-class CAV testing infrastructure. It aims to create a concentrated cluster, building around the UK’s existing CAV testing centres in its automotive heartland.

A core pillar of its automotive industrial strategy interventions, the goal is to create a coherent national cluster for government and industry to rapidly accelerate research and development of autonomous and connected vehicle technology in the UK.

It follows the awarding in the area of £9 million (€10.5 million) of the government’s Go Ultra Low scheme funding to Milton Keynes to develop the area as a showcase of measures that can be taken to encourage increased uptake of ultra-low emission vehicles, especially electric vehicles (EVs), across the country. Testing is also underway by the Electric Nation project to prepare the UK’s electricity network for EVs.