UK plans to become a world leader in electric and connected and autonomous vehicle technology


Two weeks ahead of a major event on connected and self-driving vehicles, the UK Government and automotive industry have met to discuss plans to position the country as a world leader in electric and connected and autonomous vehicle technology.

Attended by representatives of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), vehicle manufacturers, the Center for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV) and the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV), the meeting was chaired by UK Transport Minister John Hayes, who outlined the content and progress of the new Vehicle Technology and Aviation Bill. The Bill, which has started the House of Commons Committee stage, is designed to help position the UK as a global destination for the development of ultra-low emission and connected and autonomous vehicles. It introduces new policies designed to modernize the UK’s transport system, and help capitalize on a £51bn (US$63bn) a year economic opportunity. Measures in the new legislation include: electric charging infrastructure at motorway service stations and fuel retailers, ensuring charging points are compatible with all vehicles across all networks, and updating insurance rules to cater for autonomous driving.

The roundtable came ahead of a major cross-industry event on connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs) taking place on March 30 in London. The SMMT’s ‘Connected 2017’ event will bring together senior automotive executives, technology sector representatives, and policy-makers, to discuss the latest developments and challenges around CAV technology in the UK. The event will feature panel discussions on: the social benefits of driverless vehicles; current and potential safety benefits; challenges surrounding cyber security and data protection; and will also share learning from international initiatives already underway. Speakers include: Greg Clark, Secretary of State at the Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy; Dr Ian Robertson, member of the board of management at BMW AG; David Richter, VP of strategic initiatives at Uber; Doug Davis, senior vice presiden and GM for the automated driving group at the Intel Corporation; and Mike Hawes, chief executive of the SMMT.

A new report exploring the impact of CAVs on different sectors of society will also be published at the event. The report will focus on social groups, including both young and older people, and those who face mobility problems, whether due to physical ability or lack of access, and will explore the transformative social and financial benefits this technology could bring to individuals and society.

“I’m delighted to be at the Roundtable event with some of the leading global players in the design, development and manufacture of automated and low emission vehicles,” commented Hayes. “I’ve enjoyed listening to views from the industry and discussing a range of topics, including our Vehicle Aviation and Technology Bill, which will make sure the right infrastructure is in place, such as more electric charging points, hydrogen refueling stations, and the right insurance products for automated vehicles.”

Speaking for the SMMT, Hawes, added, “The UK is currently the EU’s biggest market for electric cars, while on-road trials of next generation self-driving vehicles are already taking place on our roads. Our ‘Connected’ event later this month will explore in detail how the UK automotive sector, and society as a whole, is poised to benefit.”

Click here to see a video of how autonomous vehicles will transform our roads click. 

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About Author


Tom has edited Traffic Technology International (TTi) magazine and its Traffic Technology Today website since May 2014. During his time at the title, he has interviewed some of the top transportation chiefs at public agencies around the world as well as CEOs of leading multinationals and ground-breaking start-ups. Tom's earlier career saw him working on some the UK's leading consumer magazine titles. He has a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).