WASHINGTON, DC – The Alliance for Automotive Innovation (Auto Innovators) today hosted its first-ever Summit, convening industry leaders, technology innovators, and policymakers to discuss the path toward a cleaner, safer and smarter transportation future. Day one of the event included keynote remarks, TIP Talks®, panel discussions, a leadership talk, a fireside chat, and a chairman conversation with Auto Innovators and NADA. Tomorrow’s lineup includes fireside chats with Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm and Deputy Secretary of Commerce Don Graves.

“Our industry is at the center of forces and factors that are reshaping geopolitics,” said Auto Innovators President and CEO John Bozzella in his opening remarks. “During the next two days, we're going to discuss in depth the forces at work within and upon our industry, what our industry is doing to shape and respond to them, and their implications for the economic security of the world's industrial democracies.”

“The EV market is only just starting to take shape. To ensure that market has its best chance to flourish, the private and public sectors need to rekindle that classic spirit of partnership to break down any and all barriers to EV adoption,” said Volkswagen Group of America, Inc., President & CEO Scott Keogh, who provided a keynote address. “History has indeed proven just how powerful market incentives and infrastructure investments can be.”

“Right now, we are at a critical time where the decisions are going to be made as to where and how electric vehicles are going to be built,” said U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Mich.-12, in a leadership talk. “China has built over 75 percent of the world’s battery cells and is now poised to invest another $14 billion in charging capacity in the near future. The United States of America cannot let ourselves fall behind…We’ve got to bring the supply chain back home. It’s a matter of economic growth and the national security…We’re all in this fight together. Remember that this industry is still I think the backbone of the American economy.”

“In general, consumers are open to the idea of electrification,” said J.D. Power Vice President, Data & Analytics, Power Information Network, Tyson Jominy, in a fireside chat. “As we start to put alternative powertrains into the kinds of vehicles that people want, we're seeing consumer response is very high.”

There were two panels featured today, the first was Facilitating the Future: Getting AVs to the Roads.

“What we’re seeing when it comes to autonomous vehicles, is that they have evolved from sort of this novel science project, to a potentially lifechanging technology that can address some of America’s most pressing transportation and mobility issues,” said panel moderator, Axios Transportation Correspondent, Joann Muller. “But there are plenty of skeptics too, both in the general public and in the policymaking community. So, education is going to be very critical as we roll this technology out. That’s why I’m so excited to be joined by today’s expert panel. They come from three different AV companies, AV startups in fact, but they share one very interesting thing in common, they all served as regulators of autonomous vehicles in the federal government.”

“Specifically around regulation, I always warn people they take a long time,” said panelist, Zoox Chief Safety Innovation Officer, Mark R. Rosekind, Ph.D. “Regulation is a very powerful and critical tool, but the agency really needs to be thinking about the full range of tools that are available that it can use to promote safety.” 

“The federal government has a big role to play in convening folks and getting them together,” said panelist, Aurora Vice President of Safety, Nat Beuse. “We need to continue the education mantra with the public and be very, very clear about what we are talking about.” 

“One of the things I think everybody in this industry would like to see is that if NHTSA can start removing some of the unnecessary barriers for the old standards that reflect manually driven cars and start updating and modernizing those standards to reflect vehicles that might have novel or new configurations and may require different kinds of safety standards,” said panelist, Nuro Head of Regulatory, James C. Owens. “The question that should be asked is not are the regulations ready – it’s what do we want to achieve and then how do we want to get there.”

The second panel of the day was The Future is Electric. The Speed May be Shocking.

“We are all seeing explosive growth in electric vehicle sales and in the deployment of charging infrastructure. But, we all know at the same time that it’s going to take advances in technology, in markets, and in policies – rapid advances – to get us to the goals we all want to achieve,” said panel moderator, Electric Drive Transportation Association (EDTA) President, Genevieve Cullen. “We are standing at this inflection point. This juncture, where we have the ability, there’s a path for transforming transportation, but we have to get this right and there’s a lot of pieces that need to move together thoughtfully and quickly.”

“The transition to all electric, carbon neutral needs to be inclusive. It needs to be for everybody,” said panelist, General Motors Vice President, Sustainable Workplaces and Chief Sustainability Officer, Kristen Siemen. “It’s also making sure that everybody can see themselves in that vehicle and that we have something available in all of the segments, in all of the price points. And then making sure that when we say electrification is accessible, it really means making sure that charging is accessible as well.”

“It’s going to take concerted efforts for communities to be engaged and educated on the benefits of electrification beyond where we are now if we’re going to see an uptick in adoption,” said panelist, EVNoire Managing Partner & Co-Founder, Terry Travis. “At this time of disruption, we have an opportunity to create great and good paying jobs, address public health issues, and really address this through the lens of how do we begin to create a better and different mobility and transportation ecosystem that benefits all communities.”

“This takes all of us, we’re all players at the table,” said panelist, Southern Company Electrification Policy Manager, Lincoln Wood. “At Southern, we don’t view the load that electric vehicles provide any different than any other load that we would typically plan for and we’ve integrated that into our planning process already. So, the takeaway here to me is utilities are on top of it, we know that this is coming, we’re planning for it.” 

There were two TIP Talks® during today’s event.

Jack Weast, Intel Fellow, CTO, Corporate Strategy Office, Vice President Automated Vehicle Standards, Mobileye, spoke about the opportunity that exists for automated vehicles. “Industry and government must align on what it means to drive safely.”

Bryan Salesky, Founder & CEO, Argo AI, spoke about AV technology. “Autonomous vehicles hold the promise to improve safety and transportation efficiency. We in the United States need to act decisively to realize that potential and remain a global leader,” he said. “They will help enable mobility opportunities for those who have traditionally been left behind and can save lives in the process.”

Finally, Getting There Together: A Chairman Conversation With Auto Innovators and NADA, an important conversation about dealers and manufacturers uniting to get more EVs in consumers’ driveways, featured Auto Innovators 2021 Chairman and Toyota Chief Administrative Officer, Corporate Resources, Chris Reynolds and 2021 NADA Chairman, National Automobile Dealers Association, Paul Walser.

“The topics we explored today are crucial to the auto industry’s future, and crucial to national competitiveness. The race toward electrification, automation, and connectivity is an international race to draw future supply lines, set the running rules, and establish international market leadership,” said Auto Innovators’ Bozzella in his day one closing remarks. “Tomorrow, our discussion will continue on the cutting edge of innovation. We’ll hear from more experts and thought leaders on the forces and factors changing what we drive and how we drive, and what we make and where we need to make it. We’ll look at safety, and supply chains. We will hear from both the Secretary of Energy and one of the world’s foremost geopolitical analysts on issues that are driving private sector investments and public policy debates on consequence to our industry.”

You can follow the discussion on Twitter using #Autos2050 and #FutureOfMobility.