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The self-driving revolution

Self-driving cars have been hitting the headlines lately as London-based private hire taxi firm Addison Lee has begun trialling them around Canary Wharf. After forming an alliance with Oxbotica, a self-driving software company, Addison Lee is aiming to get driverless taxis on the streets of London by 2021.

The Government is fully on board with the self-driving car revolution, expecting the UK self-drive industry to be worth £28 billion in the next 17 years – and hoping that, like Addison Lee, the cars will be hitting the roads in 2021. The Modern Transport Bill has mapped out plans to position the UK as an industry leader for driverless car technology. Chancellor Philip Hammond stated that he wanted £150 million to go towards job training and self-driving research projects, and there are currently plans underway to get driverless lorries on the motorways.

How do they work?

Self-driving cars use a variety of sensors to gauge the surroundings, each featuring a GPS unit, navigational system and a range of sensors including radar, sonar and computer vision. The vehicles have advanced control systems that allow them to create a 3D interpretation of the environment, so that they can identify appropriate routes and register obstacles and signage. The cars can make intelligent decisions – such as figuring out the best route to destination – so that once a journey has been selected, the vehicle breaks it down into commands to control the steering, braking and throttle. Using its internal map, the car can work out the locations of obstacles, traffic lights and stop signs, as well as being able to identify moving objects like pedestrians and other vehicles.

What are the benefits?

As autonomous vehicles are at the cutting edge of vehicular innovation, they would be produced to be as fuel-efficient as possible, so they would be more environmentally friendly than a petrol or diesel car. They’d also be designed to be more efficient at accelerating and braking, which would also keep the carbon emissions down. Self-driving cars also reduce the possibly of human error; accidents caused by drunk or distracted drivers would potentially be eradicated. They’d also afford more free time to busy commuters – traffic congestion is expected to decrease, which means less time spent on the road, and ‘drivers’ would be able to make the most of the time spent in their cars.

Are they safe?

Although they sound like an exciting proposition, driverless cars aren’t without their faults. In March this year, there was a fatal accident in Arizona as a vehicle operated by Uber hit a pedestrian, causing the firm to suspend its autonomous vehicle programme. In 2016, a Tesla test driver was killed when his car collided with an 18-wheel truck that the sensors failed to spot. However, despite this, car manufacturers are still keen to keep improving the safety features of the cars. Plus, drivers in the UK may be required by law to take another driving test before they can operate an autonomous car, and laws are likely to be passed to prevent people from sleeping, reading or using their phones when in the ‘driving’ seat.

Although it’s still a good few years until self-driving cars will be available to purchase, we can help you get your dream car! Get in touch with our team to find out what we can do for you.

electric cars

Is the future really electric?

Earlier this year, it was announced that three-fifths of new cars must be electric by 2030 in order to meet the Government’s greenhouse gas targets. However, the Government has since slashed the incentives to buy electric and hybrid cars – at present, the plug-in car grant takes £4,500 off the price of a new electric car but, as of November, it will be reduced by £1,000. The current £2,500 incentive for hybrid cars will be scrapped altogether.

It does seem like a counterproductive decision – the main obstacle for most new car buyers is cost, and electric and hybrid cars are usually more expensive than petrol and diesel cars, which the Government is ultimately hoping to get rid of. Cutting the incentives could have a significant impact on the demand for more eco-friendly cars, which is at odds with the Government’s clean air targets.

In spite of this, electric car sales have been consistently growing year-on-year, with sales at a record high in September. We’re still far behind Norway, where hybrid and electric vehicles account for just over a third of all car sales, but they do now account for 8 per cent of the overall car market in the UK.

However, saying electric vehicles have ‘zero emissions’ is a slight misnomer – they may not produce exhaust emissions, but they do still produce pollution in the form of tyre and brake dust. The actual production process also has a more detrimental effect on the environment than that of a petrol or diesel car, due to the process of mining the materials needed for lithium batteries.

Similarly, the majority of the electricity in the UK is produced by fossil fuels, which will be used to charge the batteries of electric cars. A study by the Mobility, Logistics and Automotive Technology Research Centre in Brussels showed that although electric cars that rely on non-renewable energy sources emit fewer emissions than a petrol car, they still produce more than a diesel car.

The strain that an increase in electric cars would put on the electricity supply is something that we’re just currently not prepared for – there are charging points being installed at petrol stations across the country, but not enough currently to cope with the expected future demand.

That said, electric cars do offer plenty of benefits beyond lower emissions. They are cheaper to run and easier to maintain than petrol and diesel cars, and, with an increasing number of car manufacturers putting their focus solely on electric vehicles, they will no doubt be the future of driving. It may currently be cheaper to buy a petrol or diesel car up front but, as electric cars become more commonplace, they will start to come down in price – and soon enough, charging points may be as common as petrol stations!

We can help you secure the car of your dreams – just get in touch with our helpful team.

new cars 2018

New Cars 2018

Whether you’re in the market for a new family car, SUV, sports car or EV, 2018 is set to be a bumper year for new models.

If you’re in the market for a new car, it’s worth getting excited – 2018 looks set to be a great year for new models from the majority of the world’s major car manufacturers.

All-new designs join updated long-standing favourites in 2018’s wide and varied lineup, with a diversity of engines, bodystyles and technology never seen before. The year will see electrification continue across the board and before too long, whether it’s a supermini or a supercar, the chances are you’ll have the option of hybrid power at the very least.

The usual year-on-year trends are present and correct; EV models will be more advanced and usable than ever before. Many of these will offer viable alternatives to petrol, diesel and hybrid models which themselves will offer improvements in economy and emissions for 2018.

Superminis, family cars, saloons, coupes, sports cars and supercars will all arrive over the next 12 months, but buyers of SUVs will be particularly spoilt for choice, with new models of all shapes and sizes on the way.

The hot topic of autonomous vehicles is likely to rumble on and we’d bet on seeing considerable improvements in the effectiveness and safety of the systems that run these cars – both those on sale and on test by pioneering manufacturers.

Read on to get a sneak preview of the new cars worth waiting for in 2018.

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