Chancellor announces £100 million driverless car funding

Updated: 
Britain Budget
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Chancellor George Osborne has unveiled new funding plans for autonomous vehicles as part of this week's budget.

An extra £100 million will be invested in driverless car development to ensure Britain "stays ahead in the race to driverless technology," Mr Osborne announced.

The funding follows the unveiling of a £28 billion road strategy, announced in 2013, which will include spending on infrastructure for electric vehicles, as well as a number of major road construction projects.

The £100 million sum will not only be used in the development of autonomous vehicles, but also in the technology required to support them, such as telecoms networks.

Opening his statement, which is to be his last before the May general election, the Chancellor said he was happy to "report on a Britain that is growing, creating jobs and paying its way".

Further automotive news from the budget included a revision of company car tax rates for low-emission vehicles, which will rise more slowly in 2019/20 than previously planned. All other company car tax rates will rise by three per cent.

Respite for motorists struggling with fuel bills came in the form of a freeze on fuel duty – the fifth in as many years. Claiming that the move would save the average motorist £10 at each fill-up, Mr Osborne said: "I want to make sure that the falling oil price is passed on at the pumps."

Elsewhere, the testing and licensing procedure for HGV drivers is to be revised, with a view to speeding up the process in the face of a nationwide shortage of qualified hauliers.