Driverless cars cover a broad spectrum including shuttles like this

Driverless cars cover a broad spectrum including shuttles like this

Research commissioned by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has found the development of connected and autonomous vehicles will help generate 320,000 jobs in the country as well as delivering other benefits to the economy.

The report, compiled by analysts at KPMG, has found these new vehicles will deliver a GBP51bn (US$75bn) boost to the UK economy and reduce serious road traffic accidents by more than 25,000 a year by 2030. It also forecasts the UK will be a global leader in the production of this next generation of vehicles.

John Leech, head of automotive at KPMG in the UK, said: "Our study has established that the UK is well positioned to capitalise on the development and production of connected and autonomous cars. Not only will these developments help vehicle manufacturers and their suppliers, but they will bolster jobs, trade and productivity across the economy.

"Connected and autonomous vehicles will promote social inclusion, reduce pollution and save lives. This represents an important opportunity for the economy but one that requires continued focus and commitment from government and business."

The figures were announced today (26 March) at SMMTConnected, the first industry wide event in Britain to explore the opportunities and challenges ahead and demonstrate how the UK automotive sector is already developing the cars of the future.

Transport minister Robert Goodwill and Ed Vaizey, minister for digital economy, gave keynote speeches at the event, attended by 20 vehicle manufacturers and more than 300 representatives from insurance providers, telecoms, academics, local government and software providers.

SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: "Connected and autonomous cars will transform our roads and the way our society functions for generations to come, dramatically reducing accidents and helping to deliver more than GBP50bn to our economy. The KPMG report clearly shows the UK automotive industry is leading the way in developing the cars of the future and that it will act as a catalyst for wider economic benefits that will create more than 300,000 jobs by 2030."

Goodwill said: "New technology is fundamental to government's ambitious vision for our roads. That is why we are making huge investments to support innovation, including GBP19m ($30m) for real-world trials of driverless cars and GBP100m ($150m) to research autonomous vehicles. Connected and autonomous cars will help us move towards a smart, safe, efficient and low-carbon future."

Industry experts also discussed issues including new road infrastructure, liability, data and privacy, and cyber security.

The SMMT said the UK has a unique opportunity to lead the way in developing the connected and driverless cars of tomorrow: it has a two year head start on other European countries, not having ratified the Vienna convention some decades ago. This means on road driverless car pilots can take place without the need for primary legislation. Driverless car trials have already started in four British cities this year and chancellor [finance minister] George Osborne last week also announced a further GBP200m ($300m) government and industry investment into driverless research, development and demonstration in the UK.

Mike Bell, global connected car director, Jaguar Land Rover, said: "The potential of the connected car is huge. It is certainly one of our top priorities and we are making a significant investment in the technology, skills and partnerships to make this a reality. Jaguar Land Rover is taking a leading role and is actively embracing the connected car. We have huge potential to ensure the car has a prominent role in the Internet of Things, which will enhance the driving experience and make driving smarter, safer and even cleaner in the years to come."