Roddy Graham's blog: 22 January 2014 - Predictions for 2014
22 January 2014
Roddy Graham is commercial director of Leasedrive Group and Chairman of the ICFM.
One of my ten predictions for 2014 was heightened awareness of the potential of electric vehicles.
It would seem I'm not alone either, as daily newspapers have subsequently joined the e-bandwagon.
Nonetheless, I believe that the EV movement will gain a useful charge of publicity from two things: a new racing car series - the FIA Formula E Championship and autonomous vehicles.
Starting in September in Beijing, the ten Formula E teams will contest ten races in Berlin, Kuala Lumpur, Los Angeles, Rio de Janeiro and London.
Besides established entrants such as Andretti Autosport and Drayson Racing, Sir Richard Branson recently announced his Virgin Racing was entering a two-car team as well.
Each team will have two professional drivers, mainly ex-F1 drivers, who will race two cars in each round - a sprint car and an endurance car.
Street-based, the formula is destined to showcase the electric car's heartland. As more people migrate to cities, the potential for Formula E to act as a catalyst for early adoption of electric cars is getting clearer by the day. Move over noisy, smelly F1, enter clean, silent FE.
My other prediction for the year is a heightened interest in autonomous vehicles (AVs). I predict there will be a steady stream of stories on AVs over the coming years, with elements creeping into upmarket luxury executive cars.
With all automotive manufacturers in the USA, Japan and Europe trialling AVs, not to mention technology giant Google, the benefits will be slowly but surely drip-fed into the public consciousness.
The biggest challenge for AVs will be to demonstrate their ability to cope with dense urban driving environments and prove their reliability under all road traffic conditions.
Once that's all achieved, governments will then be lobbied hard to make major changes to road legislation to clear the road for full-scale production.
The benefits of AVs in terms of better traffic flow, reduced traffic congestion, better fuel efficiency, improved road safety, and lower vehicle insurance premiums are unquestionable.
With congestion only set to get worse, AVs will come even more into their own as they can be programmed to follow each other closer, maximising available road space, and travel faster in safety.
The growth of EV and AV technology are definitely two trends worth watching closely. They will change our approach to fleet, or should I say mobility, management forever.