Government and the UK automotive industry held a meeting on March 14 to discuss plans to position Britain 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 Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles and Office for Low Emission Vehicles, the meeting was chaired by transport minister John Hayes, who outlined the content and progress of the Vehicle Technology and Aviation Bill.

The Bill 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 policies designed to modernise the UK’s transport system, including powers to force motorway service stations and fuel retailers to install electric charging infrastructure, 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 taking place on March 30 in London.

SMMT Connected 2017 will bring together senior automotive executives, technology sector representatives and policy-makers to discuss the latest developments and challenges around connected and autonomous vehicle 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 under way.  Speakers include:

  • Greg Clark, secretary of state, Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy;
  • Ian Robertson, member of the board of management, BMW AG;
  • David Richter, VP of strategic initiatives, Uber;
  • Doug Davis, SVP and GM, Automated Driving Group, Intel Corporation;
  • Mike Hawes, chief executive, SMMT.

A new report exploring the impact of connected and autonomous vehicles 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.

Hayes,said:“I’m delighted to be at the Roundtable event today with some of the leading global players in the design, development and manufacture of automated and low emission vehicles. 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 refuelling stations and the right insurance products for automated vehicles.”

SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: “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. We welcome government’s commitment to create the conditions necessary to position the UK as a centre of excellence for the development of this technology. These vehicles will transform our roads and society, dramatically reducing accidents, improving air quality, connecting people and saving thousands of lives every year. Our SMMT Connected event later this month will explore in detail how the UK automotive sector – and society as a whole – is poised to benefit.”