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REVEALED: Innovations Shaping the Future of Motoring and Tackling Climate Change

A brace of ambitious new developments in the electric vehicle space and a clutch of smart safety solutions headline this year’s nominations for 2022 What Car? Innovation Award. 

Among those vying for the coveted title this year is BMW’s impressive Head-Up Display for its new iX range, Hyundai’s clever Blindspot View Monitor, and a step-change in ‘vehicle-to-everything’ (V2X) communication – which enables vehicles to communicate with their environment and each other – from Ford and Vivacity.

Also in the running is a pioneering forecourt concept for EV charging stations from British company Gridserve, and a significant innovation in fast-charging technology from Hyundai.

“With the ban on new petrol and diesel vehicle sales on the horizon, the automotive sector continues to respond with a wealth of innovations to help pave the way for the successful adoption of electric vehicles,” Matthew Avery, Thatcham Research’s Chief Research Strategy Officer, said.

“Developments in Assisted Driving technology and refinements in the Human-Vehicle Interface are also gaining momentum this year. We are cautiously optimistic about the potential benefits this kind of technology will bring for road and passenger safety.”

The What Car? Innovation Award honours automotive companies that have pushed the boundaries of vehicle technology or significantly refined existing solutions to make driving easier, safer and kinder to the environment.

The winner and two runners-up, to be selected by a panel of experts from Thatcham Research and What Car?, will be announced at an awards ceremony next month.

Steve Huntingford, editor, What Car? said, “It’s fantastic that Thatcham Research is sponsoring the 2022 What Car? Innovation Award for the third successive year. This is a time of huge innovation in the car industry so it’s helpful to combine their experience with that of the What Car? team when assessing new developments on our roads. The What Car? Awards are the culmination of 12 months of testing and set the highest standard for the automotive industry.”

Nominations for 2022 What Car? Innovation Award: BMW’s  HUD for the iX range

A cleverly designed Head-Up Display system for the iX range, BMW’s newest battery-electric SUV. HUD screen projection now features virtual signage, directional indicating and vastly-improved usability. Combines touchscreen and dials for ease of use.

Matthew Avery’s view: “Head-Up Displays are nothing new. But BMW’s latest system takes the technology to the next level in terms of functionality, vehicle interface and clarity. Developers have worked hard to ensure the system is not too invasive, and it scored top marks in the What Car? Distraction Test in 2021.”

RoadSafe project by Ford and Vivacity

A joint project between Ford and a UK Government-funded consortium, which includes AI sensor specialists Vivacity. This project collects and analyses driving data from connected vehicles, roadside sensors, news reports and local authorities. This enables motorists to plan safer journeys, predict hazards and hotspots, and even highlights granular details such as unrepaired potholes or badly placed signs.

Matthew Avery’s view: “The future is V2X technology, where connected vehicles communicate with each other and the road infrastructure. RoadSafe is a significant project with the potential to improve road safety. We were also impressed by its collaborative approach, with Oxfordshire County Council, Loughborough University and Transport for London also involved.”

Hyundai’s Blindspot View Monitor

A visionary innovation that uses rear and side-facing cameras to draw attention to blind spots by displaying footage on the in-car, dashboard-mounted monitor when indicators are activated. Blind spot footage enhances and encourages use of standard glass mirrors without replacing them.

Matthew Avery’s view: “Monitor footage used in conjunction with glass mirrors gives you superior situational awareness by drawing attention to your blind spot. And it reminds motorists to use their mirrors, which is good news for cyclists and pedestrians. Hyundai plans to democratise the technology by installing BVM on most of its new cars.”

Hyundai’s Fast Charging

Hyundai’s E-GMP Platform for its IONIQ 5 range uses an in-vehicle, 800-volt battery system to offer faster charging, increased driving range and better handling.

Matthew Avery’s view: “Improvements in charging-point technology have significantly reduced charging times for EV vehicles. Hyundai’s innovation, however, puts fast-charging capability inside the vehicle itself. This next-level development further reduces downtime and improves charge-point availability, which will ultimately encourage more people to adopt EVs.”

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