The UK has the opportunity to be a world leader in intelligent mobility, Ella Taylor, head of innovation, connectivity and data at Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles told an event in London last week.
Taylor said councils were going to be key to delivering the benefits intelligent mobility can bring, adding that the DfT will publish its report on The Future of Urban Mobility in November.
The comments were made at a Westminster Energy, Environment and Transport Forum event ‘Next steps for Intelligent Mobility’.
Some speakers were concerned by fragmentation among local authorities. “Different cities are taking different approaches,” said Toby Poston, director of communications and external relations at the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association. “Government has a role to try and set a framework for mobility services.”
The connected vehicles sector was currently like the Wild West without a sheriff, he warned. There was a lack of rules, companies wee jostling for position and reluctant to share data because the use of data is where they aim to make money. Responding to questions, Poston said he would “rather have policy-makers in control than… San Francisco venture capitalists”.
Cambridgeshire County Council’s Smart programme manager, Daniel Clarke, warned that “innovation is moving really quickly and this is a challenge for local authorities…we have less and less funding”.
Philip Roe, managing director, transport, DHL UK & Ireland, said the logistics trends were for deliveries to be more frequent, smaller, to more diverse locations and with shorter lead times. That was clear in the business-to-consumer sector but increasingly, also, in business-to-business.
Referring to a battery-powered heavy lorry, launched recently and widely reported, Roe said DHL in the US has “ordered some Teslas but (is) not going to get them for three years”. In Germany, DHL is ramping up production of its small electric delivery vehicle to 20,000 a year.
DHL is a partner (with TRL and Daf Trucks) in the DfT’s platooning trials, in which articulated lorries will be linked electronically. Roe said: “The reason we are doing it is for fuel savings, not about drivers.” Highways England’s head, intelligent transport systems group, Joanna White, said the platooning lorries were expected to be “out on the network towards the end of this year, early 2019”.
Benedict Taylor, head, transport and infrastructure at the Government Office for Science, was one of several speakers concerned that autonomous/
connected vehicles could “cannibalise” public transport, especially buses. Automated vehicles would also reduce parking revenues, he predicted.
“Who will be left behind? Mobility is not only for the young, healthy and photogenic, as is often portrayed,” he said.
He added: “We have declining tax revenues (from fuel duty and VAT), which allow for a franker tax discussion,” he said. “Not only will revenue from fuel duty fall, the VAT take will also fall as people switch to electric vehicles. VAT on domestic electricity is 5%, against 20% on road fuels.”
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