Auto executives, business leaders to propose modernized transport policies

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WASHINGTON — A group of business leaders and public policy experts on Friday launched a new body to grapple with thorny questions surrounding the future of transportation including self-driving and electric vehicles.

The group, the Future of Mobility Commission, plans to propose a new regulatory framework to address a global transportation sector “on the cusp of a worldwide transition driven by shared, connected, autonomous, and electric technologies.”

Alisyn Malek, the commission’s executive director, told Reuters the goal is to tackle tough problems and improve safety.

“Let’s bring everybody together to talk about how do we want the movement of people and goods to actually work,” Malek said in an interview. Malek was named a 2019 Automotive News All-Star for her previous role as COO and co-founder at startup May Mobility. She parted ways with the company in January

Autonomous cars and delivery trucks, package-carrying drones, air taxis, connected vehicles and Hyperloop systems are among transit advances that could revolutionize travel.

Traffic crashes remain a major problem. The World Health Organization estimates 1.35 million people die and 20 to 50 million are injured annually in vehicle crashes.

The commission will be co-chaired by Jared Cohon, president emeritus of Carnegie Mellon University, former Ford Motor CEO Jim Hackett and Transdev Group CEO Thierry Mallet. Hackett finished his tenure as Ford CEO on Oct. 1.

“Progress can only continue if we modernize the way policy and regulation work,” Hackett said.

Governments, including the United States, have struggled to adopt regulations to allow for wide-scale adoption of next-generation transportation like self-driving cars amid safety concerns.

Regulators are hiking fuel efficiency requirements, while California and many European countries want to end new gasoline-powered passenger vehicle sales by 2035.

The commission says in an overview document that “current regulatory requirements governing fuel economy standards and vehicle safety fail to reflect the transformation occurring in powertrains, autonomy, and models of mobility.”

The group wants to recommend in 2022 “a framework for regulations in the American, European, and Asian markets post-2025 that reflects and facilitates the technological transformation taking place” for emissions and safety regulations.

Goodyear Tire & Rubber CEO Richard Kramer, FedEx CEO Fred Smith and Qualcomm CEO Steven Mollenkopf will be on the commission, as will Hyundai Motor COO José Muñoz. It expects to add members before its February kickoff.

The commission is housed within SAFE, a nonpartisan organization focusing on energy security issues.

SAFE CEO Robbie Diamond said the goal is to rethink everything. “If you had to rewrite regulations and policy from scratch knowing what we know about technology today… what you would do differently?” he asked. “We want to think big.”

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