Automotive Council report calls for new approach to tackle road congestion

14 December 2011 #SMMT News

The ‘Intelligent Mobility’ Report calls for cross industry and government collaboration to enable better mobility through the convergence of intelligent transport systems.

  • Congestion costs the UK around £12bn annually.
  • Capacity of existing UK roads could be increased significantly by optimising vehicle movements using existing technology; in some places by as much as three to five times.
  • The UK has the opportunity to be a worldwide centre of excellence for ‘Intelligent Mobility.

A new report out today calls for integrated use of existing technology to improve our transport networks.   Congestion, road accidents and a growing population are all putting a strain on the UK’s transport networks creating a costly and ineffective transport system that also impacts on economic productivity.

The report explores the role of Intelligent Mobility and the importance of collaboration between government, infrastructure providers, technologists and the automotive sector.  It has been produced by the joint government/industry Automotive Council to develop an alternative to legislation or building more roads and to promote innovation and is a precursor to the Automotive Council-led Summit on Intelligent Mobility which will be held in April 2012.   

UK Congestion
As one of the top 25 wealthiest nations, the UK ranks as the 8th most densely populated and as the 5th most congested. Annually, congestion costs the UK £12bn; road accidents cost £9.3bn, and poor air quality costs between £4.5 and £10.6bn. A growing population, in which a key demographic is older people and their personal mobility needs, is also putting a strain on the UK’s transport networks. It is very costly to meet the continuous demands on our infrastructure but if a solution is not found to congestion, economic activity will be seriously impaired.   

Intelligent Mobility
The Automotive Council has used the term ‘intelligent mobility’ to describe the convergence between technologies and transport systems, which up to now have often been developed in isolation, to create a safer, intelligent, highly interlinked transport network.

The report states that the key to Intelligent Mobility lies in connecting up a range of independent industries and technologies such as vehicle manufacturing, transport information systems, communications technologies, logistics and distribution and infrastructure management.

Call to action
The UK’s automotive industry stands to benefit significantly from becoming an international centre of excellence and a test bed for the development of intelligent mobility solutions. The UK auto industry is a key non-financial contributor to the UK GDP, directly supporting more than 180,000 jobs and accounting for more than £50bn in annual turnoverThe report asserts that the UK has the opportunity to be at the forefront of this field, if this cross industry collaboration is initiated now.

The Automotive Council is planning to hold a summit in April 2012 to bring together all the potential sectors and get the dialogue started.

Government and Industry comments:

Business Secretary Vince Cable, who also co-chairs the Automotive Council, said:

“I welcome new transport related technology developments which help to reduce congestion, pollution and improve road safety.   I am pleased to be working with the Automotive Council to take the first step towards promoting collaboration and innovation between industries in the area of Intelligent Mobility.”

Richard Parry-Jones, Chairman of the Automotive Council, said: “Road transport has seen significant technological advances in the last twenty years; digital control of most functions in-vehicle is now commonplace, developments in infrastructure such as in road sensors mean that drivers are now provided with more information to help choose the best route.  However, globally congestion is a growing problem, and accidents, although at a historic low, still occur. New technological developments now present an opportunity to revolutionise the way highways operate by pooling the information carried on board vehicles and using it to understand the position, speed and direction of vehicles in an area to both virtually eliminate collisions and use road capacity more efficiently.

The UK needs to lead this transformation, reducing accidents and congestion at home, plus attracting investment and generating exports and jobs. This report provides a strong foundation upon which to build this effort.”

John Miles, Chairman of the Automotive Council Intelligent Mobility Working Group and group director at Arup, said: “The concept of intelligent mobility aims to promote the UK as a global centre for the development of new automotive technologies. Intelligent mobility would bring significant benefits to the economy, to job creation and to today’s businesses who rely on today’s transport systems. Business sectors should be encouraged to engage cooperatively in the pursuit of the bigger prize.”    

Joe Greenwell, Chairman, Ford of Britain said: “Ensuring a high level of connectivity between the vehicle and ‘the Cloud’ is the next major step in the future of automotive development.  This connectivity will not only enable communication and entertainment services to be provided during the journey, but it will also help to navigate our route, smooth traffic flow and reduce accidents, emissions, and congestion.  This challenge is a major focus of attention for the Ford motor company and its Executive Chairman, Bill Ford.”

Jerry Hardcastle, VP Vehicle design and Development, Nissan said The “Connected Vehicle” has the potential to create new benefits and values with regard to energy, safety and the environment.  In order to maximise these benefits it is necessary to expand the scope of development to other industries and infrastructures beyond the vehicle.”

Dr. Bernhard Blaettel Director Mobility Services BMW Group said “Mobility is more than just about owning a car it’s about flexible usage and offering the right mix of mobility services. We aim to deliver sustainable, innovative mobile solutions that improve urban mobility – inside and outside of the car. It’s our goal to help shape the cities of the future. We aim to deliver smart services and seamless mobile experiences that focus on what the consumer requires to make the journey from A to B as hassle free as possible”.

To download the report, click here.

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