WANADA meets with Congressman Steny Hoyer on autonomous car bill

WANADA meets with Congressman Steny Hoyer on autonomous car bill

While the rest of Washington was focused on the failure of the health care bill (see below), a bill in Congress allowing automakers to manufacture up to 100,000 autonomous vehicles a year passed a House subcommittee.

A vote by the full House Energy and Commerce Committee could come before the end of July, but the bill would not come before the full House until the fall. By then, the House will have priorities such as passing a budget and enacting tax reform.

Still, NADA with WANADA and other dealer association are following the issue closely. Two days before the bill passed the panel, John OêDonnell of WANADA and WANADA board members Robert Fogarty Jr. of Sport Chevrolet met with Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) to discuss regulation of autonomous vehicles.

Automakers are anxious to receive an exemption from regulations by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) that require a driver to be in charge of a vehicle on the road at all times, with a few exceptions. The bill that passed would raise the number of vehicles that could be exempt from those regulations to 100,000 a year. The bill would also pre-empt state laws on autonomous vehicles; a few have been passed already. Automakers say they would like to avoid a patchwork of state laws.

The bill passed the panel by voice vote, as members of Congress emphasized the safety potential of autonomous vehicles.

Automakers are also challenging a perception that Tesla and Google are the primary players in the autonomous vehicle arena. A recent survey by AlixPartners found that 53 percent of respondents knew that Tesla has made autonomous vehicles and 20 percent knew that Google has, but only 12 percent could name a traditional automaker that has made AVs. Consumers surveyed also said they trusted tech companies to create AV software more than they did auto manufacturers.

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