It’s been a bit of an up and down week for UK automotive. First Nissan declare that they have changed their mind on building the new X-Trail in Sunderland, opting for Japan instead. Bad news for the area, with the loss of some 700+ jobs, which were initially secured with assurances and additional funding from the government, after the Brexit vote.
It is a hard pill for the government to swallow, as this obviously adds to the wave of uncertainty that currently surrounds UK manufacturing, as a company like Nissan, offered direct assurances and significant financial support - still cannot commit to the UK.
The good news this week is that the UK has taken a significant step forward towards a driverless future. With the government declaring support for advanced trials of automated vehicles on UK roads - with the aim of ensuring that the UK remains a world leader in the development of autonomous vehicles. As long as manufacturers adhere to the governments’ stringent code of practice for testing automated vehicles, the proposal is to support fully self-driving vehicles on UK roads by 2021.
This will of course come as welcome news for UK based companies involved in developing CAV technologies. We have previously seen a number of ‘test-beds’ offering opportunities for on-road automated testing - going forward we should expect to see a much wider rollout.
Annual investment in the UK’s development of CAV’s across the sector is touted around the £50 Billion mark, we are now likely to see this figure increase over the next couple of years. Electrification has had a massive amount of investment in recent years and continued investment is a given, however, we expect to see percentages of investment move increasingly over to autonomous development, with a lot more work needed for CAV’s to meet their full potential and with EV’s now coming to market with increased battery & drivetrain efficiencies, hopefully bringing an end to the range-anxiety epidemic once and for all.
All of this recent new mobility development would come as welcome news to one of history’s greatest science fiction writers, as today marks the great Jules Verne’s 169th birthday. A man who obsessed with travel and modes of mobility, who lived during the first era of electrified mobility and the first internal combustion engines. A futurist who ‘dreamt with his eyes open’ imagining traveling around the world in 80 days and imagining machines that would carry us to the centre of the earth, the Moon and the bottom of the ocean. Verne held great belief in the human spirit: ‘Most things can be measured in this world - except the bounds of human ambition!’ - perhaps offering a moto that will serve us all well going forward.
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