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New report says UK must embrace digital opportunities or risk missing out on green transport revolution

Thu 14 November 2019 | Back to news list

A rapid roll out of new digital technologies, like integrated mobility apps and remote diagnostics, is critical if the UK is to capitalise on the growing low carbon transport market, according to a new report by Green Alliance. The 'think tank' says that failing to adopt smart clean transport will also undermine the UK’s efforts to reach the goal of net zero by 2050.

The report says that global sales of EVs are forecast to increase 14 fold by 2030, with EVs sold in Europe potentially reaching 12 million a year. It says that profits from new mobility services are predicted to overtake those from car sales by 80 per cent by 2030. If the UK doesn’t accelerate the adoption of smart clean transport it will miss out on these emerging global markets, warns the report.

The report has been written for the Tech Task Force, convened by Green Alliance, which includes leading UK innovation organisations and technology companies. It is investigating the role of digital technology in the shift to a low carbon economy and in supporting UK manufacturing industry across the country.

Smarter transport: a digital revolution for electric vehicles and mobility services, is the first in a series of industrial sector investigations compiled for the task force by Green Alliance.

The report shows the substantial impact digital technology could have in accelerating clean transport markets, including:

  • Better integration of transport services: Smart sensors and big data can enable more competitive mobility services based on convenience and integration with existing public transport, cutting city traffic and improving air quality. Examples include mobility app Whim, currently being piloted in the West Midlands, to promote joined up transport services.
  • Predictive maintenance: This will help maximise vehicle use and life, for optimal fleet management. For instance, startups such as Carfit and TWAICE track car wear and tear, and battery health. Net global additional profits from remote diagnostics are predicted to reach $16 billion by 2025.[5]  
  • Resource efficient manufacturing: With material input prices rising by more than 80 percent between 2004 and 2018, and concerns over scarcity of key raw materials, industry 4.0 applications that cut energy and material use could help put UK supply chains at the forefront of EV manufacturing. This would boost productivity in lagging UK regions.
  • Access to critical materials: Digitally enabled EV battery reprocessing, building on solutions such as those investigated under the Faraday Institution’s ReLiB project, would ensure EV manufacturers can source valuable materials in the UK, with potentially half of UK cobalt demand in 2035 met from used EV batteries.

The report recommends that in order to secure a leading edge for the UK in these fields, while also cutting emissions and addressing air quality and congestion, the new government must press forward with a Transport Decarbonisation Plan that:

  • Bans new diesel and petrol car sales by 2030 and supports digital adoption in manufacturing to provide a strong business case for investment in next generation EV manufacturing in the UK.
  • Helps the domestic EV industry by supporting domestic battery manufacturing and establishes digitally enabled UK battery reprocessing infrastructure.
  • Redirects the roads budget towards walking and cycling infrastructure and public transport to enable effective delivery of smart mobility services, particularly outside London.
  • Puts in place regulation and support for local authorities that enables better use of data and integration of mobility services with public transport across the country. 

Simon Edmonds, Deputy Executive Chair and Chief Business Officer, Innovate UK commenting on the report said: “New trends in the automotive industry are already sweeping the sector and the UK is well-placed to lead on the smart transport revolution. This means accelerating the transition to zero emissions vehicles, powered by ever more efficient batteries.

"We will increasingly move from an ownership to a service model of car use and this will have knock-on effects in industries from insurance to parking. These are exciting times and it is our role to help encourage these changes which will lead to greener, safer vehicles and provide the high-quality jobs of tomorrow.”

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