Chairman Murkowski and Ranking Member Cantwell, on behalf of the members of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers (Alliance), I appreciate the opportunity to testify today before the Committee on the innovative technologies that automakers are currently integrating into their vehicles – making today’s automobile among the most sophisticated technology owned by consumers.
Alliance members account for 75 percent of annual car and light-truck sales by revenue in the United States. The Alliance includes amongst its diverse membership companies headquartered in the U.S., Europe and Asia, including the BMW Group, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles US, Ford Motor Company, General Motors Company, Jaguar Land Rover, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz USA, Mitsubishi Motors, Porsche, Toyota, Volkswagen Group of America and Volvo Car Group.
This hearing could not have come at a better time – fresh off a record-breaking year for auto sales. Automakers sold 17.5 million cars and light-trucks in 2015, a 5.7% sales increase over 2014. Considering where we were just seven years ago – in the midst of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression – this is especially heartening. These new vehicles are among the safest, environmentally cleanest and most fuel efficient we’ve ever seen on U.S. roads.
We are experiencing the most innovative time in automotive history. Automakers continue to drive a revolution in vehicle safety and fuel-efficient technologies. Until recently, these goals – maximizing safety and maximizing environmental progress – were not always aligned. But the very nature of today’s crash avoidance technology helps harmonize safety and environmental objectives. Crash avoidance and connectivity technologies will help prevent crashes from happening in the first place, which will lead to lower congestion and result in lower overall carbon and emission levels.
Virtually every aspect of today’s automobile is high-tech. As a result, automakers are consistently recognized as leaders in research and development (R&D) investments, in the U.S. and globally. A 2013 report by The Boston Consulting Group found that almost half of the world’s top 20 “Most Innovative Companies” were automakers. In fact, last year’s top 20 list included more automobile companies than technology companies. To keep pace with ever-growing consumer demands for sophisticated new technologies, recent studies show that automakers spend more than $100 billion annually on R&D — including $18 billion in the U.S. alone. It’s an astounding commitment to innovation that is paying off for families and society.
A number of factors are driving this wave of automaker innovation. Companies are working to increase vehicle fuel-efficiency, while developing even more capable hybrid and electric models, more efficient power trains and lighter car bodies. At the same time, automakers are building safer vehicles with cutting-edge technologies like automatic emergency braking systems and vehicle-to-vehicle communications. A recent report by the U.S. Department of Transportation described innovations by automakers as a “revolution in safety.”