Business secretary Greg Clark on the need for Britain’s car industry to put the D back into R&D
> ANTICIPATING THE future is fraught with difficulties. Faced with all of the technological possibilities, you need to prepare for it, to make sure you make the right decisions now in order to succeed in the years ahead. That’s why the automotive sector features prominently in the industrial strategy we launched just before Christmas.
> WE’RE PROUD of the achievements of the sector. It’s a sector that employs over 400,000 men and women in this country, providing not only good jobs
paying on average more than half as much again as the national average, but very often providing an entry into careers that are demanding, fulfilling, and bring people into a deep involvement in the cutting edge of innovation, design, production, marketing and so many other areas.
> ANY STRATEGY for the future should build on current successes, and our automotive sector is precisely that. But it should also ask: will this have a strong market in the future? That’s why the industrial strategy has chosen the future of mobility as one of the four grand challenges. These challenges are areas in which we want to concentrate particular focus in the years ahead.
> BETWEEN NOW and 2030 we want to bring together our leading scientists, universities and research institutions, to work with businesses to ensure that Britain is well-equipped – from talent to test beds, from the regulatory environment to infrastructure – to be one of the best places on Earth not just to develop and test new approaches to mobility but to make them available as fast as possible to UK consumers.
> THE GRAND challenge is supported by the biggest increase in public R&D investment that this country has ever experienced, with an extra £3bn a year of public funds being invested by 2021, compared with 2016.
> WE ARE a scientific powerhouse. Other countries recognise that upgrading investment in research is key to future competitiveness. We can’t stand still. We need to increase our performance and investment in R&D. Crucially the D part of R&D has particular problems. As a nation we have sometimes excelled at discovery but let the commercialisation of new inventions slip through our fingers.
> WE KNOW that in this country we haven’t always had the most dependable supply of school and college leavers educated and trained in the skills that open up careers in this sector. The industrial strategy is clear-sighted about the need to change that.
> THE FACT that motorsport teams flying the flags of nations right across the world choose to have their home in Britain is a source of national pride, and proves that the excellence and creativity that are embodied there depends on, and flourishes through, international collaboration. We need to be more international, not less.
Take that, trafic jams
Swallow your pride and switch on cruise control
There’s nothing new about adaptive cruise control…
Indeed not. It’s been around since the 1999 Mercedes S-Class but it’s now widely available on mainstream cars and vans.
Nice. So there’s loads of people driving around letting their car brake and accelerate for them, not paying much attention…
Well, yes and no. For many it’s unfamiliar technology, even though it’s on their car, and it’s often thought of as something best left for long motorway journeys.
But modern adaptive cruise control is actually in its element in heavy trafic – just so long as people actually switch it on.
Ford has completed an exercise on a test track involving 36 drivers behaving as if they were in heavy holiday trafic, first with ACC on, then with it switched of. The clear result: with ACC on, and the vehicles keeping a smooth, steady distance from one another, there was less unnecessary braking and acceleration, and a big reduction in the ‘phantom’ trafic jams that can result from over-reaction to the flash of brake lights up ahead. Happy cruising…