UK Government Introduces New EV Bill and Funds New Automotive Projects
The UK is in the process of realigning its local automotive sector, to benefit from the proliferation of EVs and autonomous cars. In order to facilitate the move, government officials introduced a new bill, which is targeted at improving EV charging station access in the country.
For the advancement of automotive technology, the UK government recently awarded $61.1 million (£51m) to four cutting-edge projects led by the following groups: HORIBA MIRA, Millbrook Proving Ground, TRL and the Warwick Manufacturing Group. The funds came from the agency's Connected and Autonomous Vehicles testing infrastructure program (launched in November 2016), totaling $131.5 million.
New Driverless Testing Sites
The funded projects focus on bringing driverless platforms to commercial markets. Starting with HORIBA MIRA, the startup is currently in the process of expanding its testing capabilities for autonomous vehicles. The Japan-based business, with over 70 years of experience in the automotive space, oversees 37 different testing sites. Millbrook Proving Ground will collaborate with Remote Applications in Challenging Environments (RACE) to make closed trials as real as possible by creating sites that mimic live environments.
"As connected and autonomous vehicle technology becomes more complex, ensuring that the UK automotive industry has world-leading facilities to test and refine concepts is of imperative importance," said Jim Campbell, launch director of MERIDIAN.
TRL and Warwick Manufacturing Group will also be setting up testing sites within the UK. However, instead of mimicking live environments, the duo is tasked with facilitating trials for autonomous vehicles in live scenarios. TRL's testing sites are located in Greenwich and Stratford's Olympic Park in London.
Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill
Around the same time government officials announced the allocation of funds for autonomous vehicle testing, the UK House of Commons also set forth the Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill. Transport Minister John Hayes expounded on the details of the bill, emphasizing that petrol retailers and businesses offering motorway services will be forced to setup charging stations for EVs at their respective, UK-based establishments.
Furthermore, officials want to futureproof the EV charging hubs by making them ‘smart'. The stations are designed to be connected to the grid for managing and monitoring power consumption during peak periods.
Interestingly, Hayes cited that local drivers of autonomous cars will be able to acquire insurance. This has been a very controversial topic worldwide, as outdated insurance policies are unclear about coverage for victims involved in a road accident with a driverless vehicle. The timely bill will make insurance for drivers of self-driving cars mandatory.
"Combining ambitious new technologies and innovative business models to address social and economic challenges lies at the heart of the government's modern Industrial Strategy," said Business and Energy Secretary Greg Clark.
"Accelerating connected and autonomous vehicle technology development is central to achieving this ambition and will help to ensure the UK is one of the world's go-to locations to develop this sector."
The UK government is pushing for the development of driverless cars, because it believes the industry will be worth $65.6 billion (£50 billion) by 2035.
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