The Alliance for Automotive Innovation is calling for a national strategy to maintain global leadership in the latest automotive technology, according to an agenda set to be released Tuesday afternoon.
In the report, the alliance — which represents the Detroit 3, Volkswagen, Toyota and other major automakers as well as some suppliers and tech companies — outlines eight policy approaches for ensuring U.S. competitiveness in forward-looking technologies such as electrification, connectivity and automation.
"Due to intense global competition, the U.S. must recommit itself to developing these innovative technologies — supported by complementary legislative and regulatory policies — that will redefine motor vehicle transportation for decades," the group said in its report.
John Bozzella, CEO of the alliance, said the "auto innovation" agenda marks an opportunity to "make sure that as a nation we lead the development and adoption of innovative technologies that drive that future."
"The future is not preordained or certain at this point. There are risks, and there is uncertainty," Bozzella told Automotive News. "It is important that we find a way to work together, that we identify opportunities for collaboration and coordination, and that we bring to bear all sectors of the economy on making this substantial shift toward zero net carbon and, ultimately, electric drive transportation as well as to the eventual deployment on public roads of highly automated vehicles."
On the supply side, the alliance proposes:
- Providing government incentives, such as federal or state tax incentives, to encourage R&D investments made by the auto industry.
- Modernizing regulatory approaches to accommodate for new technologies such as automated vehicles and advanced safety systems.
- Incentivizing manufacturing investments as automakers and suppliers retool facilities to produce the latest vehicle technologies.
- Developing training programs to educate workers and facilitate a transition of the existing work force, while also attracting new talent.
The group also outlined complementary policies and programs to accelerate the transition to electric vehicles:
- State and federal consumer incentives.
- Investments in infrastructure to broaden access to EV charging and hydrogen fueling stations.
- Updated infrastructure for homes and businesses to support "cleaner transportation."
- A transition to electric federal and state government fleets.
"For the millions of workers depending on the auto industry for their livelihoods, we must seize this window of opportunity," the group said in its agenda. "Working collaboratively to develop a coherent, national approach to automotive innovation opens the door to endless possibilities and avoids the unintended consequences of focusing on narrow policy objectives."
The alliance's policy suggestions are in line with President-elect Joe Biden's aggressive $2 trillion climate plan that includes investments in automotive infrastructure, such as adding 500,000 EV charging stations nationwide, and providing cash vouchers to consumers who trade in fossil fuel-powered vehicles for U.S.-made electric models.
Even as the industry remains split on President Donald Trump's legal battle with California over the state's authority to restrict tailpipe emissions, the group has vowed to work with the incoming Biden administration on efforts to reduce vehicle emissions and encourage an EV future.
Bozzella said he "certainly would expect" policymakers and the incoming administration to consider and debate several of the alliance's policy recommendations next year.
"Whether it's looking at ways to encourage infrastructure that you could see in the context of an infrastructure bill, for example, or how to think about other demand measures in the context of an economic stimulus bill or whether we're thinking more broadly about research and development and support for research and development in a broader economic package," Bozzella noted. "Our desire is to be ready to support policymakers as they consider these initiatives now."