UK MPs unprepared for driverless cars

MPs are yet to grasp the impact of modern vehicle technology on the motor industry says Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI).

The comments came after a Dods Polling survey into MPs attitudes to driverless cars revealed a “general lack of knowledge amongst our legislators on the impact of autonomous vehicles.”

The survey showed that almost half of MPs questioned were against further investment in autonomous vehicle research, despite the government announcing plans to have driverless cars being trialed on UK roads in 2015, whilst a sizeable 42 per cent remained unsure of the impact autonomous vehicles would have on road safety.

Meanwhile, 51 per cent were unsure of the impact that autonomous vehicles would have on the insurance industry.

IMI CEO Steve Nash commented:”Even a cursory glance at the latest technology news shows a great deal of investment going into driverless vehicles. High profile companies including the likes of Jaguar Land Rover, Ford, Google, Nissan and NASA are all now engaged.

“This technology is not going away. Even if we don’t see fully autonomous vehicles on sale in the next few years, the advancement in technology will have a huge impact on normal vehicles.

“MP’s are in danger of falling asleep at the wheel and need to start paying closer attention to the implications of these changes; both in terms of legislative issues and the large skills gaps it will create in the automotive workforce who maintain cars.”

The government introduced plans last year to prepare legislation and infrastructure to allow driverless cars to be tested on UK roads in 2015 with a number of large companies already signed up to lead the research.

However, research revealed by the IMI last year showed that many MPs believed the motor industry was a low paid, low skilled sector.

Nash said: “The development of these vehicles has huge implications for repairers, which we do not believe MPs fully understand. Driver assist systems are already available on almost all modern cars and require specialist knowledge to maintain.

“However, we are still in a situation where literally anyone can set themselves up to work on these vehicles. The stakes will be infinitely higher if totally autonomous vehicles are introduced.

“This is why IMI is now campaigning to get licensing for automotive technicians. We believe it is past time for the government to act on behalf of an industry that maintains 35 million vehicles on Britain’s roads.”

Newpress, Next Green Car

UK electric fleet now exceeds 24,500 vehicles

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According to Next Green Car, with the recent announcement from Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) that 23,083 claims have been made through the Plug-in Car Grant scheme, the total number of electric cars and vans in the UK is about to exceed 24,500 vehicles for the first time.

These figures are supported by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) which reports that 19,972 plug-in cars were registered in the UK by the end of 2014.

Taken together with the fact that at least 1,467 electric cars and vans which are not eligible for the Plug-in Grant scheme have also been registered, the total UK light-duty electric fleet will number at least 24,550 in the coming weeks as vehicles are delivered and formally registered for use on UK roads.

Given that the figure for the number of non-OLEV eligible registered EVs takes longer to become publicly known, it is highly likely that the total number of registered ULEVs in the UK now surpasses 25,000 vehicles in total (cars and vans).

Another indicator that the electric market is growing in strength is the number of fully electric and plug-in hybrid models available in the UK. While only 9 EVs were available for the major manufacturers in 2011, this increased to 18 models in 2013, and now stands at 29 high-quality, fully crash tested cars and vans with more models due for launch in 2015.

Dr Ben Lane, Director of Next Green Car said: “The number of EVs registered in the UK continues to grow exponentially demonstrating that UK car buyers are continuing to embrace the EV revolution.

“Reports from new EV owners suggest that, rather than economic or environmental arguments, it is the dramatic improvement in driving experience that it really starting to change perceptions about electric power-trains.

“Recent research from Nissan also shows that driving range is much less of an issue than previously thought with European owners of Nissan LEAFs travelling more than 50% further per year (10,307 miles) than the European average for a petrol/diesel vehicle (6,721 miles).”

The latest EV model entrants include the Tesla Model S and Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV which have already made their mark in the UK market. Other high-quality models now available include the Kia Soul EV (which NGC range-tested in December 2014) and the Nissan e-NV200, the latter bringing all the benefits of electric to the small van market.

SMMT, OLEV, DfT Statistics, Next Green Car

Top 10 green cars to watch in 2015

Our sister company Next Green Car looks ahead to the greenest and most innovative cars due for launch in 2015.

The year 2015 will see the strengthening of the market for electric vehicles (EVs); both pure electric and plug-in hybrids. With over 17,000 EVs already on UK roads, Next Green Car forecasts almost 40,000 will be in use by the end of the year.

New low emission petrol and diesel models will also be launched in 2015 with a shift to petrol cars reflecting the increasing concern about air quality. While diesel vehicles can offer lower CO2 emissions, petrol units provide lower NOx and particulates which are associated with poor respiratory health in urban areas. Look out for fuel-frugal petrol two- and three-cylinder turbo engines which can now offer the driving performance of larger engines.

As noted by Dr Ben Lane, Managing Editor of Next Green Car: “2015 will see a continuing roll out of battery electric and plug-in hybrid models as UK motorists become more accustomed to electric drive-trains. This year will be the year when EVs start to considered as ‘normal’.

“If an electric car isn’t right for your driving requirements, an ever increasing choice of sub-100 gCO2/km petrol and diesel models will become available with zero car tax and high MPG. You will need to choose a conventional model wisely, however, as the official MPG figures of some brands are increasingly at odds with the real-world fuel economy data.”

To mark a year which will bring high quality, high-tech, low emission models to UK showrooms, Next Green Car provides a ‘Top 10′ list which highlights some of the most important models due for launch and delivery in 2015.

Link: Top 10 green cars to watch in 2015