CES 2019: Autonomous cars among UK motor industry’s greatest strengths, Liam Fox says

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Autonomous and low-emission vehicles are one of the UK motor industry’s “greatest strengths”, International Trade Secretary Liam Fox said during his visit to technology show CES.

Speaking at an event hosted by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), Dr Fox said the British automotive industry was at the forefront of “the biggest transformation in transportation for generations”.

According to government figures, low-emission vehicle numbers in the UK have risen 50% since 2016, while several trials of autonomous cars have already taken place in different parts of the UK.

“We are delivering major investment, as part of a coherent strategy, developed with industry, to support electric, autonomous and connected vehicles,” he said.

Driverless car technology is one of the most prominent themes at the annual trade show in Las Vegas.

(John Locher/AP)
An autonomous concept vehicle on display at CES (John Locher/AP)

On Monday, the International Trade Secretary defended his appearance at both CES and events in Los Angeles linked to the Golden Globes by saying he was supporting British businesses overseas.

The timing of the trip had been questioned – coming during a crucial time in the Brexit negotiations and ahead of a vote on the Withdrawal Agreement, which is expected to take place next Tuesday.

He said he wanted to “highlight” the ability of British companies and that certain parts of Britain needed to “stop wallowing in the sense of misplaced fear around Brexit, and recognise how strong our economy actually is.”

Speaking at the SMMT event, Dr Fox said some of the challenges faced by the UK are “inherently global” and “can only be solved by international co-operation”, adding that events such as CES were a way of creating international partnerships.

During the trade show, CES organiser the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) named the UK among the 16 countries leading the world in having the best environment for innovation.

The annual technology event is expected to welcome more than 180,000 people before it closes on Friday.

Chris Price
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