In recent years, there has been a growing understanding of the leading role that road transport plays in illegal air pollution. The government is now required to bring air pollution to within legal limits within the shortest time possible. This looks set to accelerate a transition to cleaner, more efficient vehicles that has been underway for decades, partly as a result of to the imperative to decarbonise transport fleets in meeting the UK’s climate change obligations.

Meanwhile, developments in digital technology have opened up new opportunities, and this new transport frontier offers a significant socioeconomic opportunity for the UK through reductions in negative health, environmental and congestion outcomes, and the promotion of domestic industry. As the UK leaves the EU, its already well-developed innovative mobility solutions could be advantageous, but this mobility transition will only succeed if a new generation of clean and connected vehicles can be powered.

This paper explores the major problems facing transport, and the potential of a mobility transition to overcome these problems as part of a wider programme of socioeconomic renewal. It argues that the north of England is well positioned to play a leading role in this transition.