As the coronavirus pandemic continues to spread throughout the United States, the Alliance for Automotive Innovation has shifted priorities to focus "first and foremost on the health and safety" of its employees, member companies and their customers, CEO John Bozzella said.
The lobbying group, which represents automakers, suppliers and tech companies, formed in January before the first confirmed case of the novel coronavirus was reported in the U.S.
"When we formed the Alliance for Automotive Innovation, what we really wanted to do was make sure that we had a clear, singular voice to represent the industry broadly," Bozzella told Automotive News. "There couldn't be a more important time to do it than now."
As part of the health-and-safety effort, as of last Friday, the alliance instituted a mandatory telework policy that it is reviewing on a weekly basis to ensure employees and their families are protected during the outbreak.
On a larger scale, the alliance has formed a COVID-19 industry task force within the group, an initiative also deployed by the Detroit 3. As an industry association, it has been working "several times a week" on sharing information to understand what is happening on the production and sales sides of the auto industry, Bozzella said.
Among those efforts is the work the alliance has been doing with the National Automobile Dealers Association, with the two groups jointly asking the White House in a letter to classify dealerships as essential businesses amid forced closures of retailers in certain areas because of the coronavirus outbreak.
"In addition to the information sharing both on the supply and demand side, we are making sure we're fully engaged with policymakers and government officials at every level," Bozzella said. "Not only at the federal level, but at the state and local level, where we're seeing governments having to react to the outbreak and reacting in ways that we need to make sure our members are fully mindful of as they continue to set forth their plans and inform their employees."
In Washington, Bozzella said the alliance is focusing on policies that "support the economy broadly," including the first two phases of economic stimulus and coronavirus relief as well as the massive $1 trillion proposed rescue plan to help individual Americans, the airline industry and other sectors.
Bozzella did not say whether the automotive industry was included in the third stimulus package or other proposals that might emerge as a result of the pandemic.
"This is an incredibly fast-moving set of circumstances," he said. "We're going to continue to closely monitor what's happening with regard to sales as well as the impact of that on production and the impact of the public health challenge on production. We'll keep policymakers informed about those developments.
"Right now, our focus is on the economy broadly."