New technology means big changes for the auto industry. Pair that with a large, national investment and the transition to new mobility could happen quickly and efficiently.
The trick is in the timing.
The Biden administration has rolled out a $2 trillion infrastructure proposal that could have major implications for electric and autonomous vehicles. It's an ambitious plan that has garnered some praise from rubber industry associations, including the U.S. Tire Manufacturers Association.
"Infrastructure investment is critical to our nation's economic competitiveness," USTMA CEO Anne Forristall Luke said. "It is critical to motorist safety. It is critical to saving consumers money. It is critical to environmental progress because it contributes to fewer greenhouse gas emissions from more efficient vehicle transportation."
The proposed $115 billion to modernize bridges, highways and roadways directly impacts the tire and automotive industries. Most immediately, it protects the investments made by consumers.
As new vehicle technology continues to evolve, components that allow for more sophisticated communications—connected vehicle or connected tire technology—and advanced driver assistance systems become more expensive to build and repair.
"Rebuilding roads and bridges would help with reducing wear and tear on vehicles, reducing potential damage to newer—and increasingly expensive—technological components on a vehicle," said Kevin Riddell, LMC Automotive senior manager of powertrain forecasting. "This would result in reduced consumer operation costs for a more positive ownership experience."
Building a better, stronger and more efficient network of roads and bridges nationwide also lays the groundwork for further advancements in autonomous technology.
"Much of what we are doing with advanced safety and moving toward automation requires well-maintained roads with clearly marked lanes," said Kristin Dziczek, senior vice president of research at the Center for Automotive Research. "It's not necessarily roadside infrastructure, it's that built infrastructure that the car expects. Degraded infrastructure is much more difficult for those AVs to interact with."
Biden's infrastructure proposal is wide reaching, covering areas such as roads and bridges, transit systems, new mobility and energy grids, among others. All of these things connect and contribute to the future of the auto industry.
But the plan doesn't end there; it calls for investments in the auto industry, specifically in the advancement of electric vehicle technology. Biden wants to set aside $174 billion to help auto makers spur domestic supply chains, retool factories, and shore up domestic supplies of products and materials critical for the next-generation battery-powered vehicles.
"The plan is quite commendable because it deals with multiple facets the industry is facing from securing the raw materials for the batteries and spurring domestic production of BEVs rather than a continued focus to import them," Riddell said.