Sports car manufacturer nets £30m export order

The driverless pod produced by Westfield

A driverless vehicle produced by Black Country manufacturer, Westfield is to be exported to South Korea in a £30m international trade deal signed off by the Government.

International Trade Minister Mark Garnier signed the agreement during a trade visit to South Korea.

The joint automotive collaboration is one of the first commercial orders signed for the export of the vehicles anywhere in the world.

It will see Kingswinford-based Westfield, better known for its factory-built and kit cars, supply the pods to North Gyeongsang, a South Korean regional government.

South Korea has ordered five of the autonomous electric pods for initial testing with further option on 195. The project could provide millions of pounds worth of business for UK companies.

Julian Turner, CEO, Westfield, said: “We are really excited to be working with the UK SMART City Team to help drive this technology of the future, from the West Midlands to South Korea.

“The team – consisting of Westfield, Heathrow, Ordnance Survey, Transport Research Laboratory, Cenex, Potenza Technology, Oxford University Energy Group and Fusion Processing – all have worked hard to develop the relationship together over the past 12 months and it is with great pleasure to be signing a deal between the parties.

“There will be many great things to develop over the coming months, sharing legal, insurance, safety, technology and a passion to make internet of things work a better way.”

The UK has a strong automotive trading link with South Korea and the number of cars exported to the country has increased five-fold, making it the UK’s eighth largest export market outside of Europe – up from 16th in 2009.

The UK is also South Korea’s fifth largest foreign direct investor, and more companies than ever are keen to expand their operations and invest in country.

Mr Garnier said: “The Midlands Engine is in full gear as we lead the way in manufacturing expertise and show the world that Britain is open for business. 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.”