Automakers strive for economic viability. Here’s how a little bit of common sense and a lot of innovation can power the auto industry of tomorrow.
First, a frank assessment of the facts: no matter which way you look at it, we’re headed for a low-carbon economy. Most consumers seem aware that gas prices will not always be this low, energy security is an increasingly important strategic concern, and technological progress is opening incredible new opportunities.
It’s obvious that we must innovate, to ride the wave rather than be crushed by it. The changes happening now are a big demarcation line between the past and the future of the auto industry. So now is a time for looking forward. It’s foresight and innovation that will allow us to profit, to create and preserve jobs, and to make the auto industry a dynamic, efficient part of the economy again.
The automakers are committed to getting new technologies out on the road. We’re rolling out new technologies and cars all the time, and many more are already being developed in our laboratories. But R&D takes time. Right now, we have people working on products for 2015. We have to think at least that far ahead. That’s the nature of the industry.
That can get complicated by the patchwork of regulations that distort the market and add to an already uncertain atmosphere. In addition to federal rules, auto manufacturers have to worry about individual state standards like those of the California Air Resources Board. We actually do favor the toughest achievable standards, but a lot of different, changing standards make it extremely difficult to design a balanced nationwide fleet.
What we propose instead is a single nationwide emissions standard administered by the federal govenrment, planned out multiple years into the future, giving us a predictable regulatory environment that takes account of economic realities. The auto industry can compete and succeed, but we must have a set of guidelines on which we can depend.
Because we see the trends, and see the necessity of change, we’re taking the initiative on this. We will continue reinventing the automobile. We aren’t going to wait and see what the government does before we invest heavily in our transformation.
Any trip requires an achievable plan. We’re prepared to travel the toughest achievable road necessary to address the problems we face … but let’s make sure we have that roadmap as quickly as possible.