Taking control of the AV future
The race toward the vehicle of the future continues to shift as industry and government stakeholders begin to assert a bit more control over the frenzy that has been the last few years in the new-mobility industry.
One gauge of where the industry is headed is merger and acquisition activity. The latest Autotech M&A market report from advisor Hampleton Partners reveals that some movers are betting on the short-term opportunity of EV (electric vehicle) technology, while others favor the more ambitious, long-term developments in AV (autonomous vehicle) technology.
More than 15% of all automotive deals the advsior tracked in 2019 related to connected car/AV technology. Among the biggest funding commitments was Uber Advanced Technologies Group’s $1 billion raised from Toyota and Denso; GM Cruise’s $1.15 billion haul from Softbank; and Aurora’s $350 million funding by Sequoia and Amazon. However, it expects to see more short-term investment and M&A activity in the EV space in 2020.
“Connectivity solutions, advanced ADAS, in-cabin entertainment platforms, and advances in engine electronics allowing smaller ICE engines to produce more power—these are all areas that will see M&A and fundraising activity through the remainder of 2020 and into 2021,” predicted David Riemenschneider, Director, Hampleton Partners.
Whether it is for short-term EV opportunities or long-term AV development, there are promising signs that industry and government might be coming together to provide a bit more clarity and advance technology faster for the market.
At CES 2020, two of the largest automobile associations in the U.S.—Global Automakers and Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers—joined forces to create the Alliance for Automotive Innovation. The new alliance, which includes not only current members but also new entrants, aims to create a stronger, united voice and speed the safe deployment of personal-transportation advances through more effective public policy, stakeholder engagement, and greater public understanding.
“Bringing new technologies to market requires legislative actions and a regulatory environment that allow us the freedom to innovate,” said John Bozzella, President and CEO of Alliance for Automotive Innovation. “It is critical our organization work to ensure elected officials and regulatory bodies understand how key technological improvements can help improve the health, safety and wellbeing of our customers, their constituents, and the 10 million workers involved in the auto sector.”
Hopefully constituents like the new alliance can help impact and advance the most pressing issues impacting uncertainty in the new-mobility space as AV legislation. In this issue’s Final Analysis on p. 64, we report on the U.S. House Committee on Energy & Commerce meeting in February related to legislation and “ensuring American leadership” in AVs. There’s now a lot of concern that U.S. government inaction in creating legislation or even laying down a set of guiding principles will allow other regions to beat the U.S. to the punch with their own rules.
Regardless of the reason for the new AV legislative momentum, a majority of the industry would welcome the greater clarity and certainty of one national regulation instead of many regional rules. Each witness who presented to the House Committee was in favor of AV guidance at the federal level in some way, the only difference being the level of involvement that should happen at the federal level.
“It is important to recognize that successful testing and deployment of AVs rests on a robust federal safety agency, increased public awareness and education, and coordination between federal, state and local governments,” said Bozzella at the hearing.
To echo his testimony, Congress has an important role to play, providing the legislative and regulatory landscape that can help to enable and accelerate the safety, environmental, social, and economic benefits of AVs.