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Thatcham Research reveals 2021's most innovative new motoring technologies
Thatcham Research reveals 2021's most innovative new motoring technologies

Press release -

REVEALED: 2021's top tech innovations shaping the future of motoring and helping to tackle climate change

  • What Car? and Thatcham Research publish nominations for the 2022 What Car? Innovation Award
  • Electric Vehicle (EV) nominations reflect changing profile of the UK car parc ahead of 2030 ban on new petrol and diesel vehicle sales
  • Winner and two runners-up to be announced at What Car? Car of the Year Awards, held in London on 20 January 2022

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

Brand: BMW

Innovation: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.”

Brand:Ford and Vivacity

Innovation:RoadSafe project

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.”


Innovation:All-Electric Forecourts

A pioneering forecourt concept exclusively for EVs launched in Essex, with a further 100 sites planned across UK. Each site offers up to 36 covered charging stations, shops, eateries, airport-style lounges and business facilities. Fast-charging and tech support also available.

Matthew Avery’s view:

“One of the main barriers to EV adoption is a perceived lack of charging infrastructure, and the sense that EV motorists are an afterthought in terms of the quality and location of facilities. Bringing the forecourt concept to EV motoring is exactly the type of innovation that will drive wider EV adoption. And impressive capacity will make it easier for EV motorists to get a charging slot when they need it most.”


Innovation: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.”


Innovation: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.”

-- ENDS --


Thatcham Research is the independent voice of automotive safety, security & repair, advising motorists, insurers and vehicle manufacturers to help reduce accident frequency, severity and costs and to realise the vision of ‘Safer cars, fewer crashes’, while driving standards in vehicle security.

As well as its world leading crash and track research, Thatcham Research develops repair methods amongst a number of other products and services within the collision repair industry for insurers, motor manufacturers, equipment manufacturers and suppliers.

In addition, Thatcham Research has administered the Association of British Insurer’s (ABI) Group Rating system for the past 50 years. Group Rating is an advisory system intended to provide insurers with the relative risk of private cars and light commercial vehicles.

A founder member of the international Research Council for Automobile Repairs (RCAR), Thatcham Research has also been a member of the European New Car Assessment Programme (Euro NCAP) since 2004.


Tom Flisher

Tom Flisher

Press contact PR Manager 07876 755 615
Stewart Mitchell

Stewart Mitchell

Press contact PR Executive PR and communication
Max Norstrom

Max Norstrom

Press contact PR Executive

Thatcham Research

Safer cars, fewer crashes...

As the UK's only insurer funded automotive research centre, Thatcham Research enjoy a wide remit at the forefront of the latest vehicle technology. Thatcham's leading work in vehicle safety and security has a vital role in shaping the designs of new vehicles, whilst the centre is also seen as a key industry player at the forefront of driving standards in vehicle body repair.

Thatcham's Crash Laboratory is the only official UK crash testing centre for consumer safety body Euro NCAP and are viewed as a centre of excellence when it comes to active vehicle safety, particularly the evaluation of new Advanced Driver Assist Systems (ADAS) which provide the foundation for future vehicle autonomy.

Enjoying an increasingly global influence in both the insurance and automotive sectors, Thatcham Research expertise is in great demand with a range of opinion leaders being regularly asked to provide their experience and know-how at high profile events and in the media, living up to their reputation as ‘Experts in Safety, Security and Crash Repair’.

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