Trump pleases driverless car industry with choice for Transportation secretary

December 12, 2016

Despite voting overwhelmingly for Hillary Clinton, driverless car firms are overjoyed with President-elect Trump’s pick for Transportation secretary. 

Highly regarded in Washington, especially among Republicans, Elaine Chao is well-known for her hands-off, free-market approach. 

Chao will hold great power over how autonomous vehicles will be regulated – or not. 

‘We’d like to see her continue with her track record of light regulation,’ said Grayson Brulte of Brulte & Co., an innovation advisory and consulting firm, to the LA Times. ‘If she allows forward thinking entrepreneurs to build on the platforms that are autonomous vehicles, we’ll unleash an economic boom that will create huge numbers of jobs.’ 

At the top of her homepage, she describes herself with a 2003 quote from Newsweek: ‘Elaine Chao – as slender as a stiletto, and as steely.’ 

Consumer advocates even give her cautious praise. Consumer Watchdog director John Simpson said: ‘I’m concerned about her general anti-regulatory approach, but even though I disagree with her philosophy, I would say she is clearly qualified for the position.’ 

Formerly secretary of Labor under George W Bush, Chao pushed for less federal regulation and was criticised for allegedly not enforcing certain current regulations, for example overtime rules for wage earners. 

With safety the greatest concern, Chao must balance regulations that protect the public without them acting to impede innovation. 

However, with autonomous vehicles she cannot take the same deregulatory approach, since few federal laws on autonomous vehicles are in existence. Key exceptions are that a driver must currently be at the wheel to take control, and that a car is not allowed on the road without a steering wheel or brake pedal – which currently blocks Google’s driverless plans. However, these early rules are expected to change with time. 

The autonomous industry also wants more clarity on the real-world testing of driverless vehicles on public roads, with states currently allowed to test such cars on for example a closed business campus or dedicated highway lane. 

Meanwhile, undercurrents over the use of autonomous car data continue, with Uber currently lobbying Pensylvania to prevent the state’s access to the data hampering the testing of autonomous vehicles.

Also in News & Insights

UPDATE: News & Insights have moved to the Autovista Group website

March 31, 2017

Our regular automotive industry News & Insights are no longer being published on the Autovista Group Market Reports website.

Instead, you can now find the latest updates at our central Autovista Group website, home to our pan-European brands including Autovista, Eurotax, Glass's and Schwacke.

To stay up to date with rapidly changing market trends, we recommend signing up to our free Autovista Group Daily Brief which delivers our daily news stories directly to your inbox.

You can still find our in depth market reports here on the Autovista Group Market Reports site. Keep checking back as we have an exciting new report due to be launched shortly!

PSA to boost UK presence in the event of a ‘hard Brexit'

March 08, 2017

UK sales flat despite upcoming road tax hike, diesel demand plummets

March 08, 2017

UK new car registrations fell annually by 0.3% in February to 83,115 units according to the SMMT, driven down by weaker demand from individuals and companies. More noticeable, however, was the 9.2% drop in demand for diesels compared to February 2016, a steeper drop than the decline in Germany...