Two prominent industry trade groups, Global Automakers and the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, have merged to create the Alliance for Automotive Innovation.
The new entity aims to speed advancement in transportation through public policy, stakeholder engagement and greater public understanding, it said in a statement Wednesday.
"For almost a generation now, you've had two very successful trade associations that have created the framework and the foundation that will allow us to move forward," said John Bozzella, CEO of the new organization and former CEO of Global Automakers. David Schwietert, who led the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, is chief policy officer of the new group.
Global Automakers, which represents the U.S. operations of foreign-based manufacturers, and the Auto Alliance, which counts the Detroit 3, BMW Group and Mercedes-Benz among its members, have long worked together on policy issues. Toyota Motor Corp. belongs to both groups.
The combined entity will develop policy for safety technology, reducing emissions and expanding electrification, Bozzella said.
"All of these innovations require a stable policy framework," he said. "That's what the Alliance for Automotive Innovation is all about."
The merger also will better align the organization with its members' evolving business models, he said.
"The speed of this transformation in our industry is breathtaking," Bozzella said. "Unity of purpose, alignment and cooperation will really help us continue to move quickly. The speed of innovation really requires a more nimble approach to policymaking. We think we're going to do that with this new association."
The Alliance for Automotive Innovation has about 20 members, Bozzella said. General Motors is the chairing company of the group's board.
"As the industry is undergoing rapid transformation it is critical that we come together with a stronger voice," GM CEO Mary Barra said in a statement. "We look forward to working together as we advocate for policies that will drive us into a new era of mobility and help us reach our vision of zero emissions, zero crashes and zero congestion."
The new association represents a broader auto portfolio than its predecessors. In addition to automakers, Tier 1 suppliers, technology companies and new entrants to the mobility space can be members. Together, the members produce nearly 99 percent of all light-duty vehicles sold in the U.S., according to a statement.
"This is an incredibly exciting development for auto at the intersection of policy and innovation," Bozzella said. "It's really the first time in the history of the auto industry that we've been able to really bring together in one association all of the auto manufacturers that develop, design, innovate and sell and service cars and trucks in the United States."
Staffs from both organizations will be part of the combined entity, and the new alliance wants to recruit employees to help in the technology and innovation area of public policy. Today, the new group has about 40 employees based at its headquarters in Washington and offices in Detroit and Sacramento, Calif.
When there is consensus, the alliance will be involved with trade issues, but for the most part, trade issues will be addressed by other associations, such as the American Automotive Policy Council and Here for America, another group established out of Global Automakers this week.
"In today's rapidly changing policy environment, it is more important than ever that the auto industry speaks with one, unified voice," said Michael Cole, president of Kia Motors America, a member of the new alliance. "The purpose of the Alliance for Automotive Innovation is to do just that."