Self-driving faced competition from celebs promoting glitzy tech concepts at CES 2024

Did self-driving steal the show at CES 2024?

The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas was always big on self-driving, until last year, when Cleantechnica ran the headline: “CES 2023 Shies Away From Autonomous Driving Technology”. So, did self-driving bounce back to steal the show at CES 2024?

Well, not really. Remote driving made headlines, with Sony and Honda showing off their Afeela EV concept by driving it onto the CES stage using a PlayStation DualSense controller.

However, despite boasting 600+ mobility exhibitors at “one of the world’s largest and fastest growing global auto, mobility and transportation events”, there were precious few self-driving stories.

Techcrunch’s summary of stand-out products covered electrification, drones, AI, chatbots, in-cabin features and hydrogen. Automotive News majored on clean fuel, particularly Bosch Mobility’s new hydrogen combustion engine and Hyundai’s “full-scale hydrogen ambitions”.

Samsung CEO JH Han talks AI at CES 2024 (Credit: Consumer Technology Association)
Samsung CEO JH Han talks AI at CES 2024 (Credit: Consumer Technology Association)

Self-driving presence

That’s not to say there wasn’t a self-driving presence. PIX Moving promoted its partnership with Japan’s TIER IV, offering “white-label EV models” to “further boost the autonomous mobility ecosystem”, including the PIX Robobus…

The self-driving PIX Robobus was on show at CES 2024
The self-driving PIX Robobus was on show at CES 2024

Writing in Forbes, Brad Templeton (formerly of Google’s car team) highlighted a significant announcement from Amazon’s Zoox – they will start providing robotaxi rides in Las Vegas this year.

“While Zoox has been at this for a decade, what’s big is to see them finally entering a real pilot deployment at a time where the industry has lost players like Cruise (at least temporarily) and Argo, and little news has come from Motional, leaving Waymo almost alone in the west,” he said.

Important, but not as glitzy as the “crab drive” capabilities of the Hyundai Mobis concept, as interpreted by hip hop dance influencer Kirsten Dodgen…

Or the MBUX Sound Drive entertainment features from Mercedes-Benz and rapper… at CES 2024 (Credit: Consumer Technology Association) at CES 2024 (Credit: Consumer Technology Association)

Must try harder next year self-driving, or partner with a pop star.

Shift to clean fuel now! WWF film by Yannis Konstantinidis sends clear message about climate crisis.

COP28 special: WWF urges shift to clean fuel now

Against the backdrop of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP28), and with our 2023 MOVE pledge in mind, we recommend reflecting on this haunting new video from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF):

Shift to clean fuel now

Despite what event president Sultan Al Jaber (also chief exec of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company!) might think, the hugely respected WWF emphasises that oil, coal and gas use is a “main driver” of climate change.

To help people and nature, it therefore urges COP28 leaders to agree on a plan to phase out fossil fuels and move towards more efficient, sustainable, renewable energy “now”.

Clearly this doesn’t sit comfortably with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak pushing the deadline for new petrol and diesel car sales back to 2035. Amidst some support for this controversial move (mainly on cost grounds), but plenty of vocal criticism, we look at three leading clean fuel contenders: batteries, biofuels and hydrogen.

Battery electric

First up, the champion elect: battery electric vehicles (BEVs). With roots dating back to Robert Davidson’s 1830s electric locomotive, BEVs use a rechargeable lithium-ion battery connected to at least one electric motor.

In September, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) reported the 41st consecutive month of BEV sales increases, and an impressive 18.9% year-on-year uplift. Bestsellers include Tesla’s Y and 3, Kia’s e-Niro, VW’s ID.3 and Nissan’s Leaf.

Leaving aside the question of who’s to blame for the lack of infrastructure, the UK government has committed £1.6bn to the mission, equating to 300,000 new public chargers by 2030. According to charging map provider Zap Map, there are currently 50,000 points across the UK, up 43% in just 12 months.

Serious advances are being made on recharging times too, with BP claiming its new Pulse 150kw charger can deliver up to 100-miles-worth of juice in around 15 minutes.

The range anxiety argument is fading as ever more models deliver 300+ miles on a full charge, and amazing battery advancements are being announced almost daily. For instance, Mahle recently claimed a ‘leap forward’ in cooling plate technology: 10% better cooling performance and 20% less pressure loss, all while saving 15% on materials.

This all sounds so positive, why isn’t everyone switching? Well, purchase price is still an issue. The RAC provides the example of MG Motor UK’s ZS Hatchback, with the electric version £8k more than its petrol equivalent, even with the plug-in grant. Attractive finance options help to soften this blow.

The picture gets even rosier when you look at running costs. Research by Compare the Market found an average saving of £600 per annum for EVs over petrol cars, taking into account insurance, fuel and road tax. Some suggest that fewer mechanical parts lead to lower service, maintenance and repair bills too.

Perhaps the last serious obstacle is the long waiting lists, with semiconductor supply chain problems making global headlines.


As with rechargeable batteries, experimentation with biofuels began in the mid-nineteenth century, using methanol or ethanol with potassium/sodium hydroxide as the catalyst. Their biggest selling point is that they are derived from renewable sources.

Millions of UK motorists use biofuels every day, whether they realise it or not. E10 unleaded petrol contains up to 10% bioethanol and B7 diesel up to 7% biodiesel. The bioethanol is made by fermenting crops such as corn and maize, while the biodiesel comes from vegetable oils combined with alcohol.

Their main drawback is that they still produce emissions when burned. The RAC also warned of E10 issues for up to 600,000 older vehicle owners. Although most would run E5, doubling the amount of ethanol caused a whole variety of issues in classics – from troublesome condensation in fuel lines to perished rubber hoses and seals.

The technology is improving though. One of the ‘second-generation’ biofuels, Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil (HVO), can be used in many standard diesel engines, and is endorsed by the likes of Caterpillar, Scania and Volvo.

What’s more, bespoke fuel specialist Coryton recently launched the Sustain Classic range, which it says is “The UK’s first publicly available sustainable petrol”. It includes three grades: Super 80, with at least 80% renewable content; Super 33, with at least a third renewable; and Racing 50, with at least 50% renewable.

David Richardson, business development director at Coryton, said: “We’re setting truthful and realistic goals, producing fuels that have a meaningful impact while meeting the demands of the user.”

At the very least, biofuels can be an effective bridging technology, with the US Renewable Fuels Association backing wider adoption in both road transport and aviation.


Finally, we come to that long-touted rival to BEV, hydrogen. This has the longest history of all, with Swiss inventor François Isaac de Rivaz patenting a hydrogen-powered internal combustion engine in 1807.

Again, such vehicles are already on our roads, albeit in small numbers. Toyota makes great play of the fact that its hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicle (HFCEV) Mirai emits only water vapour.

“We’re fully committed to fuel cell, particularly for larger vehicles, because of the advantages in terms of range and refuelling time, but we’re also pursuing hybrid, plug-in hybrid, battery electric and hydrogen combustion, keeping all options open,” explained Katherine Chamberlain, senior manager for new product development at Toyota Motor Manufacturing UK.

In March, JCB unveiled a new hydrogen combustion engine designed specifically for heavy construction and agricultural equipment. Despite investing in battery electric for its smaller vehicles, the Staffordshire-based manufacturer needed a different solution for large machines working long shifts with little available downtime for recharging.

JCB Chairman, Anthony Bamford, said: “The unique combustion properties of hydrogen enable the hydrogen engine to deliver the same power, torque and efficiency that powers JCB machines today, but in a zero-carbon way.

“Hydrogen combustion engines also offer other significant benefits. By leveraging diesel engine technology and components, they do not require rare earth elements and, critically, combustion technology is already well proven.”

A major issue is that well over 90% of all hydrogen produced globally comes from natural gas, coal and oil. However, huge sums are being invested in industrial electrolysis – splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen – to overcome this thorny hurdle.

Clean fuel choices

Transport & Environment (T&E), Europe’s leading NGO campaigning for cleaner transport, has produced a handy chart detailing why direct electrification is “by far” the best technology.

T&E chart on future car clean fuel choices
T&E chart on future car clean fuel choices

The headline figures on the drive towards 100% renewable fuel production by 2050 are stark: 94% for direct electrification, 68% for hydrogen and only 55% for power-to-liquid (petrol and diesel). Pure electric is also the clear winner in terms of the amount of original energy required, up to five times more efficient than power-to-liquid alternatives.

Matt Finch, UK Policy Manager at T&E, said: “By 2050, the vast majority of cars around the world, certainly in the UK, will be 100% battery electric. There are a few good reasons for this. The first is blindingly obvious: the grid infrastructure exists and every household has an electricity supply. It might be slow, and we advise people to use proper chargers, but technically you can already charge an electric car from billions of points around the UK.

“Using electricity is dirt cheap compared to burning oil, biofuel or hydrogen. That’s the main reason everyone will switch, apart from a few classic cars running on efuel. EVs are also quieter, smoother and generally nicer to drive. 

“Biofuels are useful, although we massively over-rely on Malaysia and China for our feedstocks. What happens if they decide to refine it themselves to meet their own climate change targets? There’s an additional UK problem in that we still put millions of litres of palm-derived biodiesel into our cars. In the current round of policymaking for sustainable aviation fuel, palm is explicitly banned for environmental reasons, yet the Department for Transport still allows its use for road vehicles. That’s plain stupid.

“The fuelling question gets more interesting when you look at HGVs, but my personal take is that they will also all be battery electric. Batteries have been getting better for years and solid state is coming very soon. During the 2030s, HGVs with solid state batteries and decent ranges will arrive en masse. Then all the compelling car arguments come back in – smoother drive and far cheaper to run.

“I doubt we will ever have hydrogen trucks in the UK. There’s potentially a tiny tail of use cases, but then why should HGVs get this scarce resource ahead of aviation, shipping or the chemical industry? For various reasons, environmentally or societally, it’s hard to make a case. When you consider all the processes required to use hydrogen fuel cells, ultimately to power an electric motor, you end up asking: why bother when we can just use electricity?

“Virtually every major OEM has now stopped R&D on combustion vehicles in favour of battery vehicles. Some are funding their own battery development, some are buying them from the likes of Panasonic, but they’re all investing millions. There are tens of thousands of people in universities and manufacturing facilities around the world working on battery chemistries. That simply isn’t happening with combustion vehicles. The aviation industry is keeping a close eye on what’s happening in automotive, and it’s all focused on direct electrification.”

Can we get a Bebot beach cleaning robot for Margate please?

Meet BeBot, the 100% electric beach cleaning robot

Being Margate-based, with friends in the amazing Rise Up Clean Up community initiative, this new beach cleaning robot very much caught our attention – meet the BeBot – it would certainly be busy after a bank holiday weekend here!

To be clear, this little battery-powered machine is currently remote controlled rather than self-driving. It can cover 3,000 square metres of sandy beach per hour, picking up all manner of small debris – from seaweed to bottle caps and cigarette butts – rubbish that can be hard to see and therefore very time consuming to pick by hand.

Searial Cleaner robots

Part of the Searial Cleaner range, which also includes the Pixie Drone, an aquatic drone that picks up debris on water surface, the Collec’Thor, a fixed waste collector for marinas and ports, the BeBot was developed by Poralu Marine, a world leader in aluminium marinas. Poralu Marine is a partner of 4ocean, a company dedicated to ending the ocean plastic crisis.

With other big-name partners, including the BlueFlag international tourism label, Searial describes beach cleaning as “an essential and fundamental civic act that transforms mindsets and practices”.

Successfully tested on the shores of Lake Tahoe in America, we’re in discussion about getting a BeBot over here for a demo – watch this space.

New mobility aggregator Karfu launches Crowdcube campaign

Investment drive for mobility comparison website

If you’ve attended industry events like MOVE recently then you’re probably familiar with Karfu, the all vehicle comparison website.

They’ve officially been in stealth mode but now, with the launch of a new crowdfunder, we can finally talk about them.

The USP is compelling – compare the lifetime financial cost and environmental impact of different vehicles. The aim is to be a Moneysupermarket for mobility.

“In the last few years there’s been a surge of new types of vehicles, from electric cars to scooters, as well as new ways of accessing them, including subscription, sharing and rental,” explains Co-founder & CEO, Sam Ellis.

“This overload makes it hard to directly compare and choose. A lack of trust in providers, along with consumers’ environmental concerns, make the decision-making process more complex. People are confused.”

Co-founder Dominic Thomas picks up the story: “This is where Karfu comes in. It’s an impartial mobility comparison website designed to save people time, money, and help them to make more sustainable choices.

“It brings every vehicle-based product or service into one place, helping consumers to make the best choice for them.”

As of 2.30pm on Tue 28 March, the Karfu campaign on Crowdcube was up to 86% of the £300k target.

For further info see this short video or visit

Introducing mobility comparison website, Karfu

EV to ADAS, Tesla has revolutionised the car industry at lightning speed

Tesla: With EV no longer a USP, ADAS is the new battleground

What company springs to mind when you think cutting-edge auto tech? Same here. Tesla. At the recent FT Future of the Car Summit, Elon Musk reminisced about the first Roadster.

“There were no start-ups doing electric cars, and the big car companies had really no electric car programmes,” he said. “Unless we tried, they were not going to be created. It wasn’t from a standpoint of thinking, hey, here’s a super lucrative idea.”

EV all the way: Tesla line-up
EV all the way: Tesla car line-up

20 years later, Tesla is the world’s most valuable car brand, and it’s not even close. In June 2022, Statista valued it at US$75.9 billion, up from a mere 40-odd billion in 2020, and substantially more than second-placed Toyota and third-placed Mercedes-Benz put together.

From drivetrains to marketing, it has shredded the vehicle manufacturing rulebook, and continues to do so. Consider just some of the key developments over the last six months.

Tesla to Twitter

In March, Musk entered into a Twitter spat with US president Joe Biden, after the latter praised Ford for investing $11billion to build EVs, creating 11,000 jobs, and GM for investing $7billion, creating 4,000 jobs. He retorted: “Tesla has created over 50,000 US jobs building electric vehicles and is investing more than double GM and Ford combined.”

Research by StockApps confirmed that Tesla spends miles more on R&D than rival carmakers, around $3,000 per vehicle produced. While Electrek highlighted that Tesla spends nothing on advertising, relying “almost entirely on word-of-mouth”.

It wasn’t all plain sailing. A court in Germany ordered Tesla to buy back a Model 3 from a customer who likened the Full Self-Driving (FSD) package to “a drunk first-time driver”. With EV no longer a USP, ADAS is the new battleground.

In May, a judge in California ruled that the driver of a Tesla operating in Autopilot must stand trial for a crash that killed two people. A Model S reportedly ran a red light and hit a Honda Civic at 74 mph. It could mark the first felony prosecution against a driver using a partially automated driving system.

More negative press followed when it emerged that hundreds of Tesla owners had complained about “phantom braking”, with cars stopping suddenly for no apparent reason.

Then, in June, the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) published the first of its new monthly reports into crashes involving vehicles with ADAS. Tesla had the most, followed by Honda and Subaru.

Cue the headlines, “Tesla Autopilot and Other Driver-Assist Systems Linked to Hundreds of Crashes” in The New York Times, and “Teslas running Autopilot involved in 273 crashes reported since last year” in The Washington Post.

Importantly, the US Public Interest Research Group clarified that: “Teslas are connected to the internet and automatically report if the car was in Autopilot. Honda asks its drivers if they were using ADAS, so it relies on hard-to-verify personal accounts. Everyone else leaves it up to the police report.”

Tesla went on the offensive, quoting some eye-catching statistics: “In 2021, we recorded 0.22 crashes for every million miles driven in which drivers were using Autopilot technology. For drivers who were not using Autopilot technology, we recorded 0.77 crashes for every million miles driven. By comparison, NHTSA’s most recent data shows that in the United States there are 1.81 automobile crashes for every million miles driven.”

Its Impact Report also noted that, “In 2021, the global fleet of Tesla vehicles, energy storage and solar panels enabled its customers to avoid emitting 8.4 million metric tons of CO2e”, compared to an ICE vehicle with a real-world fuel economy of 24mpg. A timely reminder of the extent of its achievement.

That’s a whirlwind six months, and we haven’t even mentioned the Gigafactory in Texas, the Cybertruck SUV, the plans to launch a steering wheel free robotaxi by 2024, June’s new car price hikes, or the off-the-chart used values.

The fact is Tesla has revolutionised the global motor industry at lightning speed, and shows no signs of slowing. 

Please note: a version of this article was first published by the Institute of the Motor Industry’s MotorPro magazine.

Self-driving charger robots could remove the need for dedicated EV parking spaces.

Meet ZiGGY the super clever self-driving EV charger – but can it play guitar?

Our thanks to Takayuki Yamazaki on Twitter for drawing our attention to ZiGGY, a self-driving electric vehicle (EV) charger.

Aside from looking pretty cool, we think this is exactly the kind of innovation needed to tackle the UK’s notoriously slow rollout of EV charging points.

ZiGGY self-driving EV charger

In this recent story from The Express – ‘We’re still not ready’: Lack of electric car chargers leaving UK unequipped for EV future – Helen Robinson, corporate communications director at Euro Car Parts, bemoans the lack of investment.

“In order for the transition from petrol or diesel to electric to be successful, the UK must be able to meet the demand and provide ample charging points for drivers,” she said.

Unfortunately, back in December, The Guardian noted that: “The government has quietly backtracked on proposals to require every shop, office or factory in England to install at least one electric car charger if they have a large car park, prompting criticism by environmental campaigners.

“The original plan required every new and existing non-residential building with parking for 20 cars or more to install a charger. However, the Department for Transport (DfT) has now revealed it will only require chargers be installed in new or refurbished commercial premises amid fears over the cost for businesses.”

The name Ziggy of course brings to mind David Bowie’s fictional alien rockstar, who, according to Wikipedia, “arrives on an Earth that is dying due to a lack of natural resources”.

Self-driving EV charger

This ZiGGY, its LA-based maker EV Safe Charge say, represents “A cost-effective EV charging solution unlike any other. ZiGGY is a robotic mobile EV charging platform that serves all parking spaces, not just a few.”

It goes on to assert that 500 million chargers could be required globally by 2040, up from fewer than six million today, representing nearly $1.6 trillion of cumulative investment in EV charging infrastructure.

ZiGGY self-driving EV charger design features
ZiGGY self-driving EV charger design features

This nifty robot can be contacted via an app whereby it will secure a parking spot and wait for you.

It will notify you once you’re charged before moving on to the next EV or heading back to base to recharge.

This removes the need for dedicated EV spaces and the addition of video advertising on ZiGGY’s side means there’s a bonus revenue stream as well.

All very clever, but can it play guitar?

Self-driving related highlights from Elon Musk’s keynote conversation at the FT Future of the Car Summit 2022

Elon Musk talks Twitter, Tesla and self-driving at FT Future of the Car Summit 2022

Following Volkswagen CEO, Herbert Diess, and Volvo Cars CEO, Jim Rowan, on day one of the FT Future of the Car Summit 2022, there was no doubting the biggest draw on day two: an hour-long “keynote conversation” with Tesla CEO, Elon Musk, covering Twitter, Tesla, SpaceX, self-driving and more.

The part live, part digital session was hosted by The Financial Times’ Global Motor Industry Correspondent, Peter Campbell, from The Brewery in London.

Tesla early days

It started with JB Straubel, formerly chief technical officer at Tesla, now Founder and CEO at renewable energy company Redwood Materials, joining Campbell on stage to discuss the origins of Tesla, with Musk contributing via video link.

JB Straubel and Elon Musk at FT Future of the Car Summit 2022
JB Straubel and Elon Musk at FT Future of the Car Summit 2022

EM: “We got together for lunch and the conversation turned to electric vehicles. JB said I should test drive the tzero prototype from AC Propulsion, that was in 2003. I tried to convince them to commercialise the tzero and, after a while, they said they really did not want to. I said, do you mind if I create a commercial electric sports car?”

JBS: “That’s pretty close to how I remember it. My perspective was us trying to chat with you about this electric hydrogen aeroplane concept, but our conversation completely turned to talking about lithium ion batteries… stringing together large numbers of small lithium ion batteries to potentially have hundreds of miles of range, which seems commonplace today, but in 2003 was absolutely unheard of. You understood that concept better than anyone else.”

They went on to cover the early work on a Lotus Elise chassis with the AC Propulsion drive train.

EM: “An insane nightmare, basically… almost everything about the first design of the Tesla Roadster was wrong. It was just an important thing that needed to happen to move to a sustainable technology future.

“At the time we created Tesla, there were no startups doing electric cars, and the big car companies had really no electric car programmes going. Therefore, unless we tried, they were not going to be created. It wasn’t from a standpoint of thinking, hey, here’s a super lucrative idea.

“There’s an incredibly big graveyard of car startups. They’ve almost all gone bankrupt. You’ve only heard of a tiny number of them, the DeLoreans of the world, but there are hundreds of others.

“The only two American car companies that have not yet gone bankrupt are Ford and Tesla. Tesla almost went bankrupt so many times I lost count. To start a car company is mega pain. It’s the furthest thing from easy money you could possibly imagine.

“The car industry is hyper competitive. Throughout the world, they have entrenched customers, dealers, service, factories, existing expertise – these are veteran armies.”

At this point, Straubel exited, leaving Campbell attempting to elicit answers about the widely rumoured purchase of Twitter. We’ll only cover that very briefly here.

Musk on Twitter

EM: “I think Twitter needs to be much more even handed. It currently has a strong liberal bias. This fails to build trust in the rest of the United States and also perhaps in other parts of the world.”

Peter Campbell and Elon Musk at FT Future of the Car Summit 2022
Peter Campbell and Elon Musk at FT Future of the Car Summit 2022

PC: “Are you planning to let Donald Trump back on?”

EM: “I’ve talked with Jack Dorsey about this. I have the same mind, which is that permanent bans should be extremely rare and really reserved for spam accounts, where there’s just no legitimacy. I do think that it was not correct to ban Donald Trump, I think that was mistake because it is alienating a large part of the country.”

20 million cars a year by 2030

Global media coverage assured, conversation returned to Tesla and the ambition to make 20 million cars a year by 2030.

EM: “There are approximately two billion cars and trucks in the world and for us to really make a dent in sustainable energy, in electrification, I think we need to replace at least 1% of the fleet per year, that’s where the 20 million units comes from. I think we’ve got a good chance of getting there.

“We have an incredible team at Tesla, executing very well and our annual growth rates are faster than for any large manufactured product in the history of Earth. I think the next fastest was the Model T. If that growth rate continues then we will reach 20 million vehicles a year, but we may stumble.”

On raw materials, he continued: “The two main cathode choices are nickel and phosphate. Iron is extremely plentiful and the second biggest element is oxygen. So, I do not see any fundamental scaling constraints. Lithium is also quite common.

“Our goal is to accelerate the advent of sustainable energy. The three pillars of a sustainable energy future are electric transport, stationary battery packs and sustainable energy sources – solar, wind, geothermal and hydro.

“All of Earth can easily be powered by solar and wind, stationary battery packs and electric transport. You could power all of Europe with a section of Spain, all of the United States with a corner of Utah or Texas. Obviously, it would make more sense to spread this out. I invite anyone to do the basic math in megawatts per square kilometre.”

They went on to talk about SpaceX, in particular the Falcon 9 rocket. Classic Musk: “I’m sure we’ll do more than 1,000 times the payload to orbit of all other rockets on Earth combined.”

Then, briefly, China, and the Tesla factory in Shanghai. Finally, with the hour flying by, they got to self-driving.

Musk on self-driving

EM: “I don’t think you need full human level intelligence to drive a car. You don’t need deep conceptual understanding of esoteric concepts or anything like that. Anyone who’s driven a car for any length of time, once you have some years of experience, the cognitive load on driving a car isn’t that high.

“You’re able to think about other things, listen to music, have a conversation and still drive safely. So, it’s not like matching everything a human does. It is matching enough of the silicon neural nets to at least be on a par with the biological neural nets to enable self-driving, and I think we’re quite close to achieving that. Don’t take my word for it, sign up for a beta programme, look at the videos people are posting.

“I’m confident we will get far in excess of the safety level of humans. Ultimately, probably a factor of 10 safer than a human, as measured by the probability of injury.

“It’s around a million people per year dying from automotive accidents, maybe 10 million per year are severely injured.  So, with autonomy, the cars driving, or assisted driving right now, but it will be fully autonomous the future, there’s those who didn’t realise they would have crashed, or hit a pedestrian or cyclist.

“It is important to note that we have never said ever that Tesla Autopilot does not require attention. We have always made that extremely clear, repeatedly. You can’t even turn it on without acknowledging that it requires supervision. We remind you of that ad nauseam, so this was not a case of setting expectations that the car can simply drive itself.”

It was Q&A time, so I submitted the question: “Why don’t you change the name of the Full Self-Driving package? It is driver assistance not self-driving. The name causes so much unnecessary criticism.” I didn’t get an answer.

Neil Kennett self-driving question for Elon Musk at FT Future of the Car Summit 2022
Neil Kennett self-driving question for Elon Musk at FT Future of the Car Summit 2022

To be fair, his hour was nearly done and questions from the audience were stacking up. Classily, he stayed on for a lengthy period of overtime.

Audience Q&A

Here are some of the highlights…

On micromobility: “Scooters are very dangerous. We don’t recommend anyone drive a scooter.”

On building a small car: “There’s some probability that Tesla will do a smaller car.”

On Tesla licencing their products to other OEMs: “They may be interested in licencing Tesla Autopilot full self driving. I think that would save a lot of lives. I would be very open to that.”

On competitors: “VW is doing the most on the electric vehicle front. There will be some very strong companies coming out of China.”

On AI: “We have the best real world AI team in the world.”

On the next big innovation in personal transportation: “Tunnels are underrated, underappreciated. This notion of induced demand is one of the single dumbest notions I’ve ever heard in my entire life. If adding roads just increases traffic, why don’t we delete them? Decrease traffic. I think you’d have uproar. We already have a proof of concept in Las Vegas with a tunnel going from the convention centre to the strip. It’s working really well.”

On super capacitors: “There simply isn’t enough ruthenium. I thought about it quite a lot. Had I continued as a student and done a PhD at Stanford, a theory I had at the time was to use advanced chipmaking equipment to build solid state capacitors.”

On hydrogen: “The number of times I’ve been asked about hydrogen! If you want a means of energy storage, hydrogen is a bad choice. It’s extremely low density, maintaining it in liquid form is incredibly difficult and it does not naturally occur on Earth. So, you either have to split water with electrolysis or crack hydrocarbons. It is the most dumb thing that I could possibly imagine for energy storage.”

And finally, on wanting to die on Mars: “I just said sure, but not on impact! Really, the goal on that front is making life multiplanetary… to preserve life as we know it, not just humans, but also the other animals and plants. So we don’t end up like the dinosaurs.

“You know, there will be natural calamities that occur on Earth – giant meteors and super volcanoes – and we can also do ourselves in, World War III is maybe looking a little bit more probable these days.

“So, I think it’s important for preserving the light of consciousness that we become a multi-planet species and, ultimately, a multi-stellar species.”

Cars of the Future editor Neil Kennett interviewed Sir Stirling Moss OBE in 2011.

Video: Stirling Moss calls Tony Brooks “best driver the public haven’t heard of”

As avid Cars of the Future readers know, we occasionally like to look back to the glory days of motoring in a series we call… Cars of the Past. Well, today is one of those days.

Following yesterday’s sad news of the passing of F1 racer Tony Brooks, at the age of 90, we thought it appropriate to share this short clip of Sir Stirling Moss OBE talking in glowing terms about his former Vanwall teammate:

Sir Stirling Moss OBE talks in glowing terms about former teammate Tony Brooks

Sir Stirling Moss OBE said: “The best driver the public haven’t heard of in my mind was Tony Brooks. Tony was as good as nearly anybody, and he could do sports cars and Grand Prix cars. Fangio was not very good on sports cars – I mean, I could beat him in sports cars, but in Formula One he was the tops.”

New car tech editor Neil Kennett conducted the interview at Moss’s house in Mayfair, London, in 2011.

“I remember we recorded it the day after Vettel secured his second F1 title,” he said. “Further into the interview Sir Stirling talks about how racing helps to develop new automotive technologies, such as energy recovery systems. He and Tony Brooks were both racing legends.”

Frequently referred to as the greatest driver never to win the F1 World Championship, Sir Stirling Moss died in April 2020.

Tony Brooks won six Grand Prix, finishing second in the World Drivers’ Championship in 1959 with Ferrari. He died on 3 May 2022.

Trade tips: electric vehicle servicing

Please note: a version of this article first appeared in the February 2019 issue of IMI Magazine and was written for a motor trade audience.

In our Dec/Jan issue, James Dillon predicted that “setting up as the local electric vehicle specialist will pay dividends in the long run”.

The experience of Tomsett MOT Centre, in Kent, gives credence to this theory. Owner Dave Tomsett explains: “I keep up with new technologies and getting into EV sounded like a wise move, so I started researching training.

“I did the one-day IMI awareness course, which was excellent, and went on to do level 1 and 2 with Bosch, and level 3 and 4 with Pro-Moto.

“We are one of very few garages to have these qualifications and, because we do trade MOTs as well as retail, we could see there was demand.

“In January 2018, we dedicated a bay to hybrid and electric, lined it out and invested in new equipment. We already had Snap-on diagnostic tools but we purchased a G-scan 2 and other kit such as insulated gloves and workshop signage.

“We did a local press launch highlighting that we were making our plug-in point available as a free resource, and it went down very well.”

Tomsett have a Prius courtesy car stickered-up to advertise that they’re an EV specialist and Dave heaps praise on the new Hybrid and Electric Vehicle Repair Alliance (HEVRA).

“We share information with other repairers and even borrow tools, which saves you buying things you might only use once in a blue moon,” he says.

Peter Melville established HEVRA following a problem with his parents’ plug-in Vauxhall. “I started in independent garages and was working for Snap-on when this issue arose with the Ampera’s air con,” he says. “The nearest franchised dealer was an hour away and several good independents wouldn’t take it.

“In the end, I found a mobile air con specialist who had the kit to work on high voltage. I realised there was a gap in the market – a service to help people find local independent garages covering EV. That was the embryo for what became HEVRA.

“We carefully vet all our members to ensure they have the appropriate qualifications and correct tools. Then, for £25 a month, we provide a technical hotline, a quarterly newsletter and advertise on all the main electric car forums, to let people know there is an alternative to the main dealers.”

Over at Pro-Moto, director Eliot Smith is at the forefront of EV training, having previously been responsible for upskilling Honda’s UK network.

“When we started Pro-Moto about 10 years ago I was on the IMI group putting together EV courses, along with representatives from City & Guilds and the Fire & Rescue Service,” he says.

“We now work with manufacturers including JLR, Hyundai, Kia, Mazda, Fiat, Toyota and McLaren, as well as independent garages, and we certified about 300 technicians to level 4 last year.

“The principles are the same on all EVs. Electricity is never going to change, the whole universe is built on it, but different manufacturers take different approaches to things like battery management.

“In the early days, we were only doing about 10 courses a year, but we’ve got five courses running concurrently next week. Demand is high.

“We unravel the complexities, give people experience of different platforms, make them aware of the risks and give them the skills to service, maintain and repair if necessary.

“Manufacturers are bringing more EVs to market but as an industry we are failing to explain it to the end user. What’s best for them – a battery car or what type of hybrid? Staff in dealerships need to be educated in these technologies to give them the confidence to explain it to customers.

“Manufacturers know where they are with the internal combustion engine. With electric, they aren’t so sure. What if there was a warranty issue? What are the options for second life batteries? How do they mitigate against these unknowns?

“What manufacturers can do is make sure their technicians have the right skills, tools and parts to service EVs, and the aftermarket must be ready to pick up where franchised dealers leave off.”

Demonstrating the depth of expertise in the repair sector, Neil Kidby, product category manager at Sealey, also did the level 2 and 3 courses with Bosch.

“We are lagging behind Europe in terms of Alternative Fuel Vehicle (AFV) penetration, but these technologies are coming and it will happen quickly,” he says. “Before long you might be powering your house from your Toyota.

“The fact is a lot of technicians are frightened of electric cars. The battery is scary, but if you take that out of the equation it is very much like working on any other car. What you must do is protect yourself and have a sealed environment.

“This isn’t as expensive or such a leap as many think. Hybrid vehicles have been around for 100 years after all. Isolate the battery and follow the manufacturers’ instructions and you will lay the foundations for the continued success of your business.

“The essentials are: an exclusion zone – barriers and signage to stop people wandering in (as a bonus this also advertises that you do this type of work); then there’s the kit – an insulation mat and gloves – and a category III voltmeter.

“There’s also the only item we sell which we hope is never used: a rescue pole. People don’t like to think about it, but you have to. In the worst case scenario, with electrocution there’s a risk that a body could catch fire if it isn’t isolated.

“In terms of sales, we’ve seen an upward trend over the last six months. We currently sell mainly to independent garages but are in negotiations with a major vehicle manufacturer too.”

Back at the coalface, Dave Tomsett concludes: “We cannot earn a living from EV alone yet, but it is growing. Overall, we’ve invested around £7.5k in new tools, training and equipment. Some jobs can be time-consuming but it’s a learning curve.

“We have a new apprentice coming in the summer and he’ll be involved with EVs from day one. That’s vital because we need to attract more skilled youngsters into the industry – working on vehicles like these should be an appealing alternative to the university route.

“Attitudes are changing; the 2040 deadline for petrol and diesel sales will focus minds, range will increase and as battery technology improves it will snowball.”

An important question we’ve not delved into is whether the government should legislate to require anyone working on EVs to have further qualifications. We’ll explore that another day.

Most small businesses expect their vehicles to be electric by 2030 and driverless by 2040

55% of small enterprises think their fleets will be fully autonomous within 20 years, with 38% expecting it to happen in half that time, according to new research by the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi light commercial vehicle (LCV) business.

In a survey of 3,257 small businesses in the UK, USA, China, France, Mexico, Australia and Japan, 66% also predicted that their fleets would be fully electric within 20 years, with 50% expecting it to happen in half that time.

35% said they were already using smarter technology in their fleets, with efficiency improvements and cost savings the main motivations.

30% said the key benefit of connectivity would be the ability to communicate with the people they’re delivering to.

“We recognize the importance of smart technology to increase efficiency and continue to work together to develop connected and autonomous vehicles that cater to the needs of business fleets of all shapes and sizes,” said Ashwani Gupta, senior vice president of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi LCV business.

Between now and 2022, the alliance says it will launch 12 new zero-emission vehicles, utilising new common electric vehicle platforms. Over the same period, it plans to introduce up to 40 models with autonomous features, although equipment levels will vary.