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The global automotive industry continues to grow at a staggering rate and the opportunities and challenges faced by the motor industry are varied and exciting. In order to meet these challenges, SMMT has launched the ‘Award for Automotive Innovation‘ to encourage and recognise the creation and development of new innovative products, technologies and ideas that could change the face of the UK automotive industry.

From the invention of the three-point seat belt to the airbag and Electronic Stability Control, the automotive industry has been a constant innovator of new products to encourage safer and greener motoring. At €20 billion per year, the automotive sector is Europe’s largest investor in R&D, driving industry forward and helping deliver more sustainable motoring for the 21st century.

The automotive industry is conducting extensive work to revolutionise the transport system. This will make roads safer and allow an improved traffic flow therefore cutting emissions.

Key areas being developed include Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) which allow vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication. Implementing these communication systems can help to reduce road accidents, relieve congestion and reduce emissions. Examples of ITS applications in use today include urban and motorway traffic management and control systems, electronic toll collection and route navigation systems. In the UK, innovITS provides a platform to bring together industry thinking, to stimulate collaborative working across ITS industries and services and to inform the direction of ITS research and development.

Another technology being developed which aims to improve road safety is Intelligent Speed Adaptation (ISA). ISA systems inform the driver of the speed limit for the road they are travelling on and automatically reduce the speed of the vehicle.

E-call automatically alerts the emergency services to the location of an accident and is a system widely used in other countries.

Driver Assistance Systems such as Electronic Stability Control and Emergency Brake Assist are systems that function automatically with no interaction with the driver and will improve the safety of the vehicle in use.

Implementation of these systems requires continued co-ordinated work between all stakeholders involved to ensure that all information is available.

What does the term telematics mean?

Telematics refers to the exchange of data over a wireless communications network. For drivers, it is now most commonly seen in applications like satellite navigation systems. These systems are commonplace, and are no longer just the preserve of higher end luxury models. Satellite navigation is now available on almost any car in any showroom, and as an aftermarket fit for older vehicles.

Does new technology mean more expensive new cars?

New technology is appearing all the time – just think how cars have changed over the last 30 years, yet they still remain affordable modes of transport.

Is the motor industry moving slowly in developing new environmental technology?

The UK motor industry has been transformed during the last decade and while for many it may still conjure images of rust-belt industrial decay, the reality is that the design, development and manufacture of motor vehicles is an engine of economic growth and the creator of high value, highly skilled jobs. The motor industry is already tackling climate change. Although it is true that legislation may set targets, it is consumer choice that will dictate the actual pace of change. The demand for lower carbon vehicles is increasing.

Are electric vehicles definitely the way forward?

The overall impact of any fuel used must be considered – if the battery energy results from fossil-fuelled power stations, then the overall gain is questionable. Electric vehicles are one option to be considered alongside hybrids and low emitting petrol and diesel models.

What about the implementation of other alternative fuels that have been discussed in the past – biofuel and LPG?

There is a place in the market for all types of fuel as different technologies will meet the needs of different driving situations. Consumers need to have the refuelling infrastructure available to them so that they can utilise the technology. Incentives for the take up of lower carbon technology are important for consumers in order to reduce their carbon footprint.

Shortlist for UK’s best automotive innovation announced

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has announced the shortlist for its 2014 Award for Automotive Innovation, with contenders ranging from Formula 1-inspired energy recovery systems to advanced new engines. Now in its fifth year, the Award – sponsored by GKN and supported by The Times – recognises new UK-developed technologies with the