UK firm wins landmark autonomous contract

An innovative business in the West Midlands has landed the world’s first deal to export driverless cars, brokered in part by international trade minister Mark Garnier.

Dudley-based Westfield Sports Cars has received an order from South Korea for five of its autonomous electric pods – with a view to take 195 further down the line.

The £30m project involves UK technology which will be showcased at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.

The trade minister believes deals such as this one will go a long way to easing public concerns in the technology while underlining the UK’s ability to strike trade deals outside the European Union (EU).

He said, ‘Demand for our goods and services is clearly out there and we will continue to support businesses in making the most of global markets as we leave the EU.’

Since 2009, UK car exports to South Korea have shot up fivefold in volume, and the Asian country has become the UK’s eighth largest export market outside of Europe.

It has now become a hotly-targeted region, as ministers look to build on strong existing trading links and new free arrangements once Brexit is complete.

The IT Convergence Institute of North Gyeongsang Province has agreed to share technologies and expertise with Westfield, in areas ranging from the development of self-driving vehicles and high-precision maps to overall safety management.

The latest agreement comes off the back of a wider deal between the two institutions struck in November last year.