Auto Alliance Pitches Preferred U.S. Strategy: Government Money

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

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]

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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3 of 5 comments
  • Dartdude Dartdude on Dec 16, 2020

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

  • Matt Foley Matt Foley on Dec 16, 2020

    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.

  • Calrson Fan Jeff - Agree with what you said. I think currently an EV pick-up could work in a commercial/fleet application. As someone on this site stated, w/current tech. battery vehicles just do not scale well. EBFlex - No one wanted to hate the Cyber Truck more than me but I can't ignore all the new technology and innovative thinking that went into it. There is a lot I like about it. GM, Ford & Ram should incorporate some it's design cues into their ICE trucks.
  • Michael S6 Very confusing if the move is permanent or temporary.
  • Jrhurren Worked in Detroit 18 years, live 20 minutes away. Ren Cen is a gem, but a very terrible design inside. I’m surprised GM stuck it out as long as they did there.
  • Carson D I thought that this was going to be a comparison of BFGoodrich's different truck tires.
  • Tassos Jong-iL North Korea is saving pokemon cards and amibos to buy GM in 10 years, we hope.