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Inside Track: Inaugural Edition

How the Transportation Bill Will Impact the Motor Vehicle Industry

Date: March 29, 2021

Welcome to a new blog focusing on key public policy issues impacting the motor vehicle supplier industry. I hope you enjoy it – let me know what you think and give me ideas of issues you would like me to cover.

This week the President travels to Pittsburgh to continue his campaign for Congress to consider and pass a massive transportation bill. The $3 trillion plan covers everything from AVs to transit. 

But the question for motor vehicle suppliers is simple – how will it impact my business? The answer is clear – it is set to transform the motor vehicle industry as we know it.


Key Takeaways

  • Biden is likely to commit to a significant (30-50%) reduction in carbon emissions by 2030 with a target of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

  • House transportation bill is likely to include mandates for new vehicles. This includes but is not limited to: warnings for occupants of hots cars and front and rear AEB. The commercial vehicle industry will be impacted too with mandates for rear underride protection and ergonomic seats.


What Is a Transportation Bill, Anyway?

Transportation bills regularly cover typical infrastructure issues including road, highway, and bridge construction. They have been expanded over the years to cover everything from transit to bike paths. President Biden’s vision is even more expansive and includes provisions to limit vehicle emissions and improve fuel economy, to expand U.S. employment, and to address equity.

But just like assembling a 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzle, it is sometimes hard to figure out where you fit. Think of this bill just like a puzzle but instead of edges, corners, and colors consider emissions, investment and incentives and safety and legislative mandates.

Emissions, Fuel Economy, Investments, and Incentives

April 22, 2021 is Earth Day and President Biden will convene world leaders to discuss climate change. Biden is likely to commit to a significant (30-50%) reduction in carbon emissions by 2030 with a target of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. This is significant since transportation, electricity, and industry make up the vast majority of these emissions in the U.S.

MEMA believes it is premature to pick any single technology or any single target date. But California, other states, and many others have focused on electric vehicles as the solution to net-zero emissions. As MEMA has spoken with White House officials, we have raised concerns about the impact electric vehicles will have on supplier employment. In addition, we have emphasized the need for -

  • Continued support for requirements for increased ICE efficiency 

  • Moderate but steady transition targets needed for consumers and industry to successfully adapt and

  • Robust infrastructure for clean technology, consumer incentives, R&D, and manufacturing incentives.


Safety and Legislative Mandates

As well as emissions and fuel efficiency, a transportation bill will dictate motor vehicle safety policy for the coming decade. MEMA has worked tirelessly to promote the updating the New Car Assessment Program (NCAP) to include pre-crash technologies. The association believes that this information can help consumers make more informed decisions while purchasing a vehicle. We also believe that NCAP will help grow the acceptance of pre-crash technologies nationwide thereby improving motor vehicle safety and decreasing the cost of the technologies.
But the House of Representatives is considering legislation that would go far beyond an updated NCAP. Portions or all of this legislation is likely to be included in any transportation bill. These proposals include mandates for new vehicles to include everything from warnings for occupants of hots cars to front and rear AEB. And the commercial vehicle industry will be impacted too with mandates for rear underride protection and ergonomic seats
In addition, it is past time to pass federal AV legislation. The United States leads the way in developing and testing automated technologies and the federal government must weigh in specifying national and states roles and obligations. This includes allowing suppliers to test on public roads just like vehicle manufacturer are allowed to do.
For decades, suppliers have led the way in designing technologies that provide greater convenience, safety, and better fuel economy in vehicles. Suppliers must continue to lead the way during this transformative time providing real time guidance on the challenges and opportunities that are available in this next generation of motor vehicles. I invite the industry to work with us during this process to create a transformation that mirrors your vision.

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