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This paper explains the policy background to and contents and purpose of the Automated and Electric Vehicles Act 2018.

The Act received Royal Assent on 19 July 2018. It extends to the whole of the UK with the exception of sections 1 to 8 on insurance for automated vehicles, which extend only to Great Britain. For Part 2 (electric vehicle charging) a legislative consent motion is being sought from the Northern Ireland Assembly in respect of the application of these provisions in Northern Ireland.

Insurance for automated vehicles

The application of ‘intelligence’ to cars is gathering pace and there is a strong push by manufacturers to develop automated vehicles which will drive themselves.  Currently, insurance law is driver-centric: all (human) drivers have to have insurance in order to provide compensation for third parties for personal injury or property damage due to a driving related incident. The Government’s view is that such principles need to be extended to cover automated vehicles when the car is the driver and the ‘driver’ is sometimes a passenger.

The intention behind the legislation is to emphasise that if there is an insurance ’event’ (accident) the compensation route for the individual remains within the motor insurance settlement framework, rather than through a product liability framework against a manufacturer.

The Government believes that answering the insurance questions sooner rather than later will encourage manufacturers to develop transport technology in the UK with the confidence that they can exploit market opportunities.

Electric vehicles

Since 2009 UK governments of all parties have sought to provide a framework in which electric vehicles, or ‘ultra low emission vehicles’ (ULEVs) can grow. The decarbonisation of both private cars and goods and passenger carrying vehicles is seen as critical to helping the UK achieve its climate change obligations and to improving air quality, particularly in cities such as London.

The measures in the Act are intended to help deliver the aim in the Conservative Manifesto commitment for almost every car and van to be a zero emission vehicle by 2050. Taken together, the powers would allow Government to regulate if necessary in the coming years, to improve the consumer experience of electric vehicle charging infrastructure, to ensure provision at key strategic locations like Motorway Service Areas (MSAs), and to require that charge points have ‘smart’ capability.

Further information on roads/motor vehicle policy can be found on the transport policy page of the Parliament website.


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