20.11.2017Budget set to boost UK electric and autonomous vehicle industry
Half a billion pounds of investment in electric cars, and legislation allowing autonomous vehicles on UK roads by 2021 are set to be announced in the Budget later this week by Chancellor Philip Hammond.
The Chancellor is expected to commit Â£400 million for EV charging points, and an additional Â£100 million to boost sales of ultra low emission cars. Autonomous cars will benefit from sweeping regulatory changes that will see driverless vehicles on public roads within the next four years.
The measures are planned to promote Britain's automotive industry as a leading place to continue development of advanced vehicles, even with the uncertainty of Brexit.
With the expected announcements, greater detail is being added to the Autonomous and Electric Vehicles Bill, currently being discussed in Parliament. This Bill addresses a wide-ranging set of issues and regulations to support the sales, manufacturing, and development of drivelrless and electric vehicles in the UK - dealing with subjects such as EV charge point infrastructure and insurance for autonomous cars.
The Â£400 million for EV charge points is likely to support the installation of points at public, home, and workplace locations. It is also likely to help with previously proposed plans such as adding new units at large fuel retailers, and enabling easier access and payment for drivers.
You can find existing public EV charge points at Zap-Map.
With the Plug-in Car Grant (PiCG) currently only guaranteed until 2018, the Â£100 million backing for supporting green car sales is likely to extend this funding. However, there could well be changes to the levels of support offered to buyers of pure-electric and plug-in hybrid cars.
The expected announcements have been met with support from the UK's automotive industry, with SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes saying: "We support government's measures to make the UK one of the best places in the world to develop, test and sell connected and autonomous vehicles.
"These vehicles will transform our roads and society, dramatically reducing accidents and saving thousands of lives every year, while adding billions of pounds to the economy.
"We look forward to continuing industry's collaboration with government to ensure the UK can be among the first to grasp the benefits of this exciting new technology."
There are concerns over the safety of driverless cars though, with sufficient measures needed to be put in place for both the vehicles to be able to deal with any unusual eventuality without risk, and to convince the general public that the technology is safe to share the road with other road users.