The deadline for entries to Autocar's Drivers of Change initiative, launched to bring innovation to the motoring industry, has been extended to 28 September at 11.59pm. The competition aims to attract clever ideas for the retail, technology and digital areas of the automotive world, and the best will win a £5000 prize.
To inspire you, three Autocar staffers share their own suggestions. To contribute your own great idea to Drivers of Change, please enter here.
Smart car chooser - Rachel Burgess
Considering a car against its rivals is an important facet of car purchase, and for us at Autocar it’s crucial to benchmark models and understand how good (or not) a vehicle is. Consumers aren’t always looking for a direct rival to their current car, and instead want something quite different.
A member of my family recently put the Jaguar XE and Peugeot 3008 on his shortlist of two. A Nissan Juke owner/ fan recently contacted us at Autocar because he wanted an electric car and didn’t know where to start.
Car owners typically know what they like or don’t like in terms of brands, styling, powertrain or, for the keener motorists, driving feel, but don’t know how to translate that to their next car – assuming they don’t want to make a repeat purchase. I believe there’s room for a comparison website with a difference, one aimed at addressing car choice questions not rigidly restricted to car classes. This consumer-focused site would have thousands of inputs to help car buyers establish what their next car should be. For example: ‘I really like the VW Golf but I want a sports car.’ The system generates an answer and suggests an Audi TT. Another example: ‘I really like a VW Golf but I want an electric car and something smaller.’ The system generates an answer and might suggest a Mini Electric and Peugeot e-208.
Ultimately, by making it easier for buyers to determine which car they want to buy, the entire carbuying process would be more straightforward for both buyers and car retailers. Thus, the suggested website should be able to become commercially viable because it would attract online display advertising or sponsored links through to car manufacturers/dealerships.
EV lifeline - Tom Morgan
One big issue of EV ownership, especially for those who live in a shared building or with separate parking (terraced houses) – with no easy means of charging – is the risk of being marooned well away from the nearest charging point when your traction battery has run out.
My idea is to develop a transportable EV charging battery that’s big enough to supply an electric car with enough range for a typical commute but compact enough to be brought into the house to recharge while the car is being used.
It would probably need wheels so it could be moved easily because even a 5-10kWh battery can weigh 50-80kg and it would need to supply 7kW charging at minimum. It would be lockable to the car, too, so no one would be able to steal it (a chain-style lock that threads through the car’s alloy wheels or a nearby lamp post, perhaps). It might also be transportable in two parts that unite when in use, so it could be more easily carried up steps or stairs.
It would provide 20-30 miles of range per charge, depending on the car. It’s not the kind of thing that would be carried in an EV every day but would perhaps be shared between owners or bought by dealerships and garages to get local clients out of trouble. It wouldn’t need to be charged itself particularly quickly so could be plugged into a standard three-pin socket, negating any need for an installer to visit your home. A built-in solar panel might even provide a trickle charge to maintain its level.