The Alliance for Automotive Innovation sets out to electrify and automate vehicles in the US
What’s Happening - Alliance for Automotive Innovation sets agenda (1/2)
The Alliance for Automotive Innovation has set out a series of policy guidelines needed to successfully electrify and automate vehicles in the US. The alliance represents various automakers and suppliers, including the Detroit 3, Volkswagen, Toyota, and other transportation tech companies. Together, they have drafted national objectives essential to encouraging the future of electric vehicles (EVs) and automated vehicles (AVs). The agenda laid out by the alliance includes participation from state and federal governments so there are incentives for both manufacturers and consumers. Investments in a national EV infrastructure is a crucial part of this plan because the proposed policies will accelerate and incentivize the production and sale of electric vehicles. Another important aspect is the AV policy roadmap, unveiled earlier this month, which recommends policy initiatives and a national pilot program to encourage the development of AVs in the US.
Here’s Our Take(1/2)
The Alliance for Automotive Innovation is a recently-combined industry association of both global and US automakers, which reflects the increasingly global vehicle market and supply chain. The Alliance points out that incentives, job programs, and investment in infrastructure will accelerate the electrification of the transportation sector in the US. All of this is true – these are important policy components of the shift to clean transportation. However, missing from their initiatives is the importance of policies to accelerate the sales of electric vehicles, and their investment in advertising and informational campaigns for EVs. Advertising campaigns by the automakers will be crucial to improving consumer awareness of available incentives and the benefits of EVs, and we’ll look to the Alliance to help guide that effort. And while it is no surprise that they don’t highlight sales mandates and performance standards, these policies have been the key factor so far in supporting EV deployment in California and other states.
What’s Happening – Automated Vehicle deployment (2/2)
The California Public Utilities Commission is responsible for regulating business models for for-hire transportation. In November, the CPUC moved the Automated Vehicles (AVs) Program from pilot to deployment. The decision makes several important changes to the way AV operators can give Californians rides. The decision starts out by simply setting state goals for AVs, including protecting passenger safety, improving access, and reducing emissions. The decision also gets deep in the specifics of how AVs can operate for commercial service in such a way that protects public safety and the environment. Some details to note include the decision to lift a previous ban on ride pooling and a ban on charging fares, which will allow a market to emerge for AV rides. The decision also expands data collection efforts, sending a clear message to AV operators that the state will keep a close eye on how AVs are integrating into California’s communities.
Here’s Our Take (2/2)
The goals established in the new AV program are nation leading. California is the only state in the nation that has set out environmental policy targeting AV emissions (through SB1014), and this decision expands on that policy. It ensures that regulators are committed to a future where AVs leave an equitable and sustainable footprint on our communities by allowing AVs to be shared or pooled. There was a broad consensus of support for pooling among the 20+ parties to the proceeding that AV pooling is necessary for AVs in order to meet traffic and sustainability goals.
Regarding AV accessibility for people with disabilities, the CPUC made progress, though some believe they could have gone further. Some cities and agencies suggested that the CPUC should require universal design principles from the beginning, requiring all AVs to be equipped for full accessibility for people with disabilities. Instead, the CPUC has chosen a lighter-touch approach, only requiring AV companies to submit reports that ensure that safety measures apply to all passengers, including those with disabilities. This is a move in the right direction, but it is not yet clear if this will result in safety or equivalent AV service for Californians with disabilities, and if this will result in locking in existing designs for vehicles, information disbursal, and payment processing, all of which often fail riders with disabilities.
For more discussion on the nuances of this decision please see this Op-Ed: Pros and Cons of the California Public Utility Commission Decision to Deploy Automated Vehicles.