Would the Minister like to give us a few thoughts on what she thinks the opportunities are for synthetic fuels, sustainable fuels and hydrogen? How will they fit in around her battery vision?
My right hon. Friend’s views on electric vehicles and zero emissions are well documented. As I mentioned, a hydrogen strategy is also in place. I have been to a number of projects where vehicles are using hydrogen to ensure that that technology is exploited and that there is supply and demand in the chain, too. We are looking at sustainable alternative fuels not only in the automotive sector but in the aviation sector, so it is not just in that space. All alternative fuels will be investigated.
The future of the auto sector is electric—although I know that my right hon. Friend would like it to be much wider—automated and connected. The UK is well placed to consolidate its position among global R&D leaders as these technologies begin to commercialise, creating jobs and valuable new services for our businesses and communities. Our flagship Commercialising Connected and Autonomous Mobility programme will bring benefits across the UK. The Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicle’s recent £66 million Commercialising CAM programme 2025 aims to create an early commercial market that could be worth £42 billion by 2035. This innovation will save lives, create jobs, enable more efficient movement of people and goods, address chronic driver shortages, and better link under-served communities to vital services. As part of the programme, on 5 September, I was pleased to announce £18.5 million of public grants to 13 projects and 43 organisations across the UK to strengthen our capabilities in the CAM supply chain. I then had first-hand experience of a self-driving vehicle with Wayve, near King’s Cross. These technologies are here. They are no longer something from science fiction. Today, we can take automated bus journeys in Didcot and Edinburgh, with more world-class automated passenger and freight services to follow in the coming months.
In addition, through Government policies, we are enabling future mobility in the UK. We launched the full local electric vehicle infrastructure fund in March 2023. Following a pilot, it provides a further £381 million over the next two financial years to deliver tens of thousands of local charge points across England. Furthermore, to enable long-distance journeys, the rapid charging fund will future-proof electrical capacity at strategic locations to prepare the network for a fully electric car and van fleet—not just cars.