"It will be rare for a car to be produced in 10 years’ time that is not autonomous," said Tesla CEO Elon Musk at the annual summer meeting of the National Governance Association, which is the representative body for state-funded school governors and trustees throughout England.
Musk did not say which level of autonomy he meant, but levels three and four are, at this stage, the most commonly cited. Tesla’s Autopilot system currently falls into level three (hands-off autonomy that requires the driver’s attention), and the firm has ambitions to adopt level four - hands-off and eyes-off autonomy, from which the driver can retake control if necessary.
The British government, in an attempt to strengthen the automotive and technological industries, is currently on a mission to make the UK a hub for the progress of autonomous development, although Germany, with new, autonomous-friendly vehicle legislation, is making progress ahead of the launch of the new Audi A8, which is level three autonomy capable.
Musk’s claim follows Tesla’s field-leading progress in getting autonomous cars on the road. He has also said half of all vehicles produced in 10 years’ time will be powered by electric motors only.
Registrations of electric vehicles in the UK from January to the end of June - including hybrids, plug-in hybrids and hydrogen-powered cars - stands at 58,657 cars, or 4.4% of the market, with 7694 of these being full-electric cars. Electric vehicle registrations in 2017 so far are up by 46% from the 5267 registered in 2016, but full EVS still only make up 0.55% of the total number of cars registered across the year so far.
At its current rate of growth, and providing the UK’s car industry halts growth, in 12 years’ time, EV registrations will equal around half of the total registrations of the UK, so the growth of the segment would have to accelerate considerably for Musk’s prediction to come true.
This, so far, appears to be happening, although the UK government has come under fire in recent months for its introduction of the new VED rules, which penalise owners of cars which cost more than £40,000, with a ‘Premium Tax’. Since many EVs and hybrids fall under this category, it’s been considered detrimental to the progress of the segment.