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Electric And Automated Car Industry Boosted By New Laws

New legislation improves electric vehicle charge infrastructure and clarifies who pays damages if self-driving cars crash

Benefits of electric and autonomous vehicles

The Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill increases the number of chargers and confirms who pays damages if self-driving vehicles cause collisions, Transport Minister John Hayes confirmed. The legislation is part of a “green transport revolution” and currently making its way in Parliament. The Government claimed such vehicles:

  • Improve air quality
  • Minimise congestion
  • Reduce collisions
  • Create thousands of jobs
  • Will be worth £50 billion to the economy by 2035

Electric vehicle chargers

Consider charging, for example. The Bill proposes that motorway service stations and large fuel retailers be required to provide charge points. Motorists will be able to find such points via satellite navigation and smartphone applications. The Bill also proposes that additional information be provided. Examples include:

  • The cost of charging
  • Payment methods
  • Means of connection
  • Whether chargers are in working order
  • Whether chargers are in use

Autonomous vehicle crash liability

The Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill further proposes who is financially liable for damages if automated vehicles (say) malfunction then crash. It suggests the insurer is responsible if:

  • The collision is caused by an automated vehicle that is operating autonomously (rather than being driven manually)
  • The vehicle is insured at the time of the collision
  • A person suffers damage

However, the insurer can eliminate/limit liability if (say) the owner interfered with the vehicle’s software or failed to install safety critical updates. In addition, the owner is responsible if:

  • The collision is caused by an automated vehicle that is operating autonomously (rather than being driven manually)
  • The vehicle is not insured at the time of the collision
  • A person suffers damage

James Dalton, Director of General Insurance Policy for The Association of British Insurers, backed the legislation. He suggested: “Insurers wholeheartedly support the development of automated vehicles. We support the approach the government has taken in the Bill, as this will give the industry time to prepare for the commercial roll out of fully automated driving technology.”

Government champions new legislation

Transport Minister John Hayes commented: “We want The United Kingdom to be the best place in the world to do business and a leading hub for modern transport technology. This is why we are introducing the Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill into Parliament - and investing more than £1.2 billion in the industry.”

“This Bill will aid the construction of greater infrastructure to support the growing demand for automated and electric vehicles, as we embrace this technology and move into the future”, he explained.