Wicker, Walden Commend Automotive Sector for Meeting Challenges Posed by Pandemic

May 12, 2020

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, and Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., ranking member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, today sent a letter to the Alliance for Automotive Innovation, Motor and Equipment Manufacturers Association, National Automobile Dealers Association, Consumer Technology Association, and Chamber Technology Engagement Center commending the automotive sector for using innovative technologies to meet new challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The members also requested the organizations provide details of any plans they may have to assist in the recovery from the pandemic.

Excerpt from letter:

In some ways, we are reminded of the industry’s response to World War II, when all automotive factories in the U.S. were retooled to build vehicles and equipment for the military. In the years following the war, new technologies ushered in a golden era for the industry that benefitted our entire nation. As we now confront the challenges of the COVID-19 crisis and work to restore our economy, innovation and ingenuity across the auto sector will be critical to building a safer, more efficient, and more resilient future in transportation.

The current crisis has shown what the industry could look like moving forward. As highlighted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the industry is exploring a host of new innovations in response to the crisis, including the use of automated driving systems to transport COVID-19 tests between a testing site and laboratory and ride-hailing vehicles to transport essential goods—such as medical supplies, mail, and groceries.

As encouraging as these developments are, our global competitors are racing to gain the upper hand in automotive innovation.  China is on the path to becoming the world’s leading manufacturing power by 2049, a year that would mark 100 years of Communist rule in that land. In response to the COVID-19 crisis, China is moving full speed ahead with its focus on critical technologies, with Chinese companies going so far as to test automated vehicles on American roads.  Beijing is also preparing to release “China Standards 2035,” which will aim to influence international standards for next-generation technologies. All of this comes at a time when global investments in automotive research and development may fall, according to a recent survey.

Click here to read the full letter.