By on December 15, 2020

The Alliance for Automotive Innovation (AAI) is proposing a national strategy for the United States it claims will help keep the country competitive. However, the AAI represents automakers, parts suppliers, and technology firms around the globe — making this more of a plea to U.S. policymakers and the industry to remain laser-focused on electrification, connectivity, and vehicular automation. It’s pitching its preferred global strategy, not some custom strategy for helping the U.S. achieve dominance because it’s telling the European Union and Asia the exact same story.

Elsewhere, the eight-part plan is being touted as an invaluable tool to help guide America back toward automotive relevance. But here, we remain skeptical.

While there are loads of people who will tell you that rampant electrification is a ploy to swell the European and Chinese market by catering to Asian battery suppliers, the U.S. wouldn’t be left out in the cold entirely. Tesla remains the planet’s preeminent manufacturer of electric vehicles and is based in California until Texas finishes setting up its room. North America’s geography may make it more difficult for widespread EV adoption, however, Elon Musk still manages to sell his wares globally without running into quite so much trouble as his rivals.

There are good reasons for the United States to keep at least one eye on the latest automotive trends. But let’s get a better look at what the mobility obsessed Alliance for Automotive Innovation has planned.

The AAI is a relatively new organization, formed by the union of two prominent auto lobbying groups, and already represents practically every major automaker or supplier currently operating. Over the last several weeks, it has promised to work with Joe Biden on reducing vehicle emissions, released international guidance for federal agencies on how to handle automated cars, and challenged Massachusetts’ right-to-repair law that supports customers and individual repair shops — making it impossible for your author to endorse.

“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,” AAI said in its latest report.

A lot of this involves getting help from taxpayers. The group suggested government incentives (tax breaks, mostly) for R&D into new technologies, modernize regulatory restrictions to better allow for autonomous solutions and advanced driving aids, incentivizing manufacturing investments for factory retooling (mainly to build EVs), and establishing training programs to educate workers and facilitate a transition of the existing workforce for younger blood.

Additional policies deal strictly with the implementation of electric vehicles. These include expanding state and federal consumer incentives for their purchase, federal/state investments into building the EV charging and hydrogen fueling infrastructure, updating homes and businesses to support “cleaner transportation,” and the transition of government fleets toward total electrification.

“The auto industry came together in January to speak with a single voice — and that’s led to a string of accomplishments that was only possible with the industry united,” John Bozzella, CEO of the alliance, told Automotive News this week.

From AN:

“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.

Bozzella, who led the Association of Global Automakers before its merger with the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers to create the AAI, has repeatedly said the group’s unity is its strength. But there’s little difference in the messaging between continents. Everything is being done for the good of the industry with seemingly little effort being placed into trying to analyze what may or may not work in each individual market. The Alliance for Automotive Innovation represents multinational corporations and has a global vision that benefits them, not individual nations. It’s about leveraging a unified industry to convince governments to embrace and help pay for the frightfully expensive new technologies it has been working on.

“We also, because of this, have the opportunity and a unique perspective,” Bozzella said late in November. “A unique perspective that brings together this whole ecosystem to look at policies that can advance technology, but also the opportunity to build a consensus approach so that when we’re engaged in the policy space that we’re speaking with one voice.”

[Image: Paul Brennan/Shutterstock]

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5 Comments on “Auto Alliance Pitches Preferred U.S. Strategy: Government Money...”

  • avatar

    The relentless drive to world standardization dressed up in PR gabbletalk appropriate to each market area. Inject fear. Gotta keep up with those guys over there innovation-wise! How about some free government money? Because otherwise we’ll lag behind, and you wouldn’t want that, now would you? Think of the lost employment, the lost PRIDE! Industry thinks socialism is great for their needs — privatize profits and subsidize losses, and now instead of conning municipalities/states into coming up with free land and infrastructure for a factory with no taxes for 20 years, why bother with those little guys anymore? Go after the national governments and shame them into forking over cash direct. For innovation! Think of the bonuses!

    At least Tesla has overseas assembly factories, one in China and soon one in Germany. Plus of course, the JV with Panasonic at the Gigafactory in Nevada, so it’s unlikely Chinese battery companies are going to take over the world, especially not if LG Chem of South Korea can help it. In the UK, some no-hoper of a battery company saying they are going to make lithium-ion automotive batteries has already conned one area in Wales over a factory site, then decided to move to the North east coast for no rational reason. If an EV “start-up” company can sell scam stock to ravenous illiterate stock buyers, why not pitch a battery company the same way? There’s money to be made off suckers both public and private.

  • avatar

    It means that cars will become much more expensive, at least initially, and taxpayers have to pay for that. And automakers love to sell expensive cars because of healthy margins. What not to like about it?

    But world moves in that direction anyway and automakers cannot stop that, they understand that. If mosquito like Tesla causes hurricane that means that electrification was going to happen anyway – with or without Tesla. Tesla was lucky to be in the right place at the right time. Others are now screwed up and therefore that idiotic document.

  • avatar

    Well get ready for a new America. One that the people have no say. Global community will dictate every aspect of our lives.

  • avatar
    Matt Foley

    Great column by Posky (and no, Worst and Dimmest, Matt Posky and Matt Foley aren’t the same person).

    “[fill in nearly any political organization] represents multinational corporations and has a global vision that benefits them, not individual nations.”

    Cars, guns, paycheck. If you aren’t trying to take one or all of these things from me, you have my vote.

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