Currently reading: Budget 2015 - Chancellor reveals £100m funding plan for driverless cars
Chancellor George Osborne announces an extra £100 million of funding for autonomous cars, with the UK aiming to "stay ahead in the race to driverless technology"

Chancellor George Osborne has announced new funding for autonomous vehicle development as part of his last budget before the general election this summer.

Opening his statement, the Chancellor said he was happy to “report on a Britain that is growing, creating jobs and paying its way”.

Supporting figures that showed the UK economy grew by 2.6% last year, the fastest-growing in the world, the Chancellor said the British economy is “fundamentally stronger” than it was five years ago.

On the subject of autonomous vehicles, the Chancellor announced an extra £100 million of funding to ensure Britain “stays ahead in the race to driverless technology”. That funding will be used to both develop vehicles, as well as “the systems required to implement and adopt the technology, such as telecommunications.”

Safeguarding the continued growth of low-emission vehicles, the Chancellor also announced that company car tax rates for low-emission vehicles would rise slower than previously planned in 2019/20. Other company car tax rates will rise by 3%.

Fuel duty has again been scrapped, meaning the planned rise in September won't occur. The Chancellor said the move will save the average family £10 on the cost of filling up. "I want to make sure that the falling oil price is passed on at the pumps," he added. The move marks the longest freeze on fuel duty for 20 years.

The Chancellor also announced a raft of new measures to encourage Britain’s growing manufacturing industry, including doubling support for British companies exporting to China. “Britain's manufacturing output has grown more than four and a half times faster than it did in the entire decade before the crisis,” he said.

In order to increased what is described as a “shortage of qualified HGV drivers,” the government will also review the current HGV driving test procedure, with a view to speeding up the process.

George Osborne also praised apprenticeship schemes, saying the number of apprentices in Britain has doubled during his time in office. “We are getting the whole of Britain back to work with a truly national recovery,” he said.

Facing Prime Minister’s Questions ahead of the budget, the Prime Minister David Cameron praised Jaguar Land Rover for its continued growth and tripled turnover over the past five years, saying “manufacturing is growing again in the West Midlands, and we should be proud of that”.

Get the latest car news, reviews and galleries from Autocar direct to your inbox every week. Enter your email address below:

Back to top

Join the debate

Add a comment…
spqr 19 March 2015

Ask a simple question -

In whose interests are "driverless" or "autonomous" cars? The answer is the State. Such a vehicle can be controlled by the State, monitored by the State and ultimately that means you can be controlled and monitored and your ability to travel where you like and when you like in other words your freedom (and of course the whole point of a car) is curtailed. It is State control of your personal life. Elon Musk reveals his true colours if he thinks "only outlaws will drive their own cars" in the future. In that case I will be one of the outlaws.

This is a colossal waste of money.

But perhaps we should not worry too much yet because there are too many legal issues that attach to "driverless" cars. For example everyone has focused on the idea of whose is liable in the event of a crash. Apparently the view seems to be the non-driving passenger/driver who must have insurance. Since the EU/Totalitarian argument goes humans are bad driver computers are better so there will be no crashes again perhaps we worry too much. But as we will (hopefully) never have "driverless" pedestrians who can simply step out in front of a "driverless" car the more pertinent legal issue is who is liable if a driverless car kills a pedestrian? arguably it could be the company that made the car. If so that means the Chief Executives could be liable for corporate manslaughter. That means jail. Once that sort of idea starts to sink in I expect we will see very few "driverless" cars.

UK Car Discount 19 March 2015

Wasted Money

TBH I think the goverment could make much better use of tax payers money!!!
Norma Smellons 18 March 2015

Driverless Taxis...

...will never happen. How could a machine be programmed to 1) drive right past you even though the light is on 2) refuse to take you "South of the river at this time of night" 3) drive off without giving you your change and 4) bore you to death about "the Gunners/Blues/Spurs" and "blaaady Boris" etc?