The U.K. government holds a roundtable conference with auto-industry leaders to discuss plans to make the region a world leader in electric, connected and autonomous vehicles.
Chaired by Transport Minister John Hayes, it was attended by representatives of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, vehicle manufacturers, the Center for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles and Office for Low Emission Vehicles.
Hayes outlined the content of the Vehicle Technology and Aviation Bill now pending in a House of Commons committee.
The legislation is designed to help position the U.K. as a global destination for the development of ultra-low-emissions and connected and autonomous vehicles.
It introduces policies to modernize the region’s transport system and help capitalize on what the government sees as a £51 billion ($62.6 billion) -a-year economic opportunity.
Measures include electric-charging infrastructure at service stations and fuel retailers, ensuring charging points are compatible with all vehicles across all networks, and updating insurance rules addressing autonomous driving.
The roundtable came ahead of an SMMT cross-industry event on connected and autonomous vehicles taking place March 30 in London.
SMMT Connected 2017 will bring together senior automotive executives, technology-sector representatives and policymakers to discuss the latest developments and challenges around connected- and autonomous-vehicle technology in the U.K.
It will feature panel discussions on the social benefits of driverless vehicles, current and potential safety benefits, and challenges of cybersecurity and data protection. It also will share learning from international initiatives already under way.
Scheduled to speak are Ian Robertson, Member of the Board of Management, BMW; David Richter, vice president-strategic initiatives, Uber; Doug Davis, senior vice president and general manager-Automated Driving Group, Intel; and Mike Hawes, CEO, SMMT.
A report to be released at the SMMT meeting will explore the impact of connected and autonomous vehicles on various sectors of society. It will focus on how the new technology will affect social groups and explore its potential social and financial benefits.
Hawes says the U.K. is the European Union’s biggest market for electric cars, while on-road trials of next-generation self-driving vehicles already are taking place on U.K. roads.
“These vehicles will transform our roads and society, dramatically reducing accidents, improving air quality, connecting people and saving thousands of lives every year,” Hawes says in a statement. “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.”