July 15, 2021 Press Release

Auto Innovators Forum: From Design to Driveway, Years in The Making

Auto industry goes behind the scenes to explore the multi-year development process behind every auto. 


WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Alliance for Automotive Innovation (Auto Innovators) today hosted a discussion about the years-long process of bringing a car from concept to mass market. The event focused on aspects of automaking that aren’t as well known, but are key to creating sound, productive policy and regulation. 

Joining Auto Innovators President and CEO John Bozzella for the digital event were Tom Stricker, Group Vice President of Sustainability and Regulatory Affairs at Toyota Motor North America, and Paul Thomas, Executive Vice President at Bosch, North America.

“The car that’s in the showroom today began as someone’s idea perhaps five years ago,” said Auto Innovators’ John Bozzella. “The automobile is a unique consumer product. It’s perhaps the most emotional, recurring purchase the average adult makes,” he continued, noting that while the objective of vehicles is not changing, the technology and platforms involved are rapidly evolving. “In short, the whole production process is changing,” Bozzella said.

It can take years to bring a car from idea to industrial production. It involves billions of dollars of investments in design and engineering; software, semiconductors, systems and technologies; and materials, tools, and facilities – all before the first model is even sold. Cars undergo rigorous proving programs to ensure they are safe, clean, and reliable.

“You have to predict the trends in the market. And you have to do that long before you know the consumer wants that type of product in the market. That’s why we have invested around $600 million per year, over the past 10 years, to prepare for electrification,” said Bosch North America’s Paul Thomas.

Panelists discussed complexities in the supply chain and the full lifecycle of components used in vehicles along with the opportunities and challenges in producing cars as the industry shifts to electric vehicles.

“When it comes to vehicles with batteries, we need a recycling system. Because of the challenges of the supply chain of these rare earths, we need to really think about how we can recapture some of those minerals either through recycling or whether we can repurpose the batteries,” said Toyota Motors North America’s Tom Stricker.

Innovation in this sphere requires imagination, time, and resources, just to set the wheels in motion. As automakers develop and introduce new technologies to usher in a cleaner, safer, and smarter automotive future, policymakers should craft legislation and regulation that keeps pace with the innovations of the modern automotive industry.

With new designs and technologies changing the future of personal mobility, automakers are working to bring consumers the safest, cleanest, and most advanced vehicles possible. Auto Innovators has continued to host exciting conversations and outline key measures needed for the success of a competitive auto industry in a series of documents including its recently released Driver Monitoring Principles, the Electric Vehicle Agenda, the Innovation Agenda, and the AV Policy Roadmap.