Self-driving cars could provide Britain's economy with a £62bn boost by 2030, but only if the UK agrees a favourable Brexit deal, a report by a leading trade body has found.
The report, produced by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), says the UK is the world's number one location for connected and autonomous cars, which are set to reach Britain's roads by 2021, as announced by chancellor Philip Hammond in 2017.
The SMMT said more than £500m has already been invested in the industry by leaders and the government, with multiple autonomous driving trials taking place across the country.
It said the UK had a significant advantage over other economies in the race to adopt economic vehicles, thanks to progressive legislation that allows such cars to be insured. The UK is ranked above the likes of Germany, the US, Japan and South Korea.
However, the SMMT chief executive, Mike Hawes, said a no-deal Brexit would do "lasting damage" to the UK's reputation as a stable place for investment.
"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 said.
"The UK’s potential is clear. We are ahead of many rival nations but to realise these benefits we must move fast. Brexit has undermined our global reputation for political stability and it continues to devour valuable time and investment. We need the deadlock broken with ‘no deal’ categorically ruled out and a future relationship agreed that reflects the integrated nature of our industry and delivers frictionless trade.”
As well as offering an economy boost, the roll-out of autonomous vehicles could lead to the creation of around 420,000 jobs in the telecoms and digital services industries, as well as the car industry. It will also give back driving commuters the equivalent of a full working week currently lost to traffic and lost work time.
The ambition to get self-driving cars on the roads by 2021 would only be met through further government investment and updated traffic laws and 4G coverage across all networks, the report added.