Energy Security Council Makes Recommendations on Autonomous Vehicle Policies

The Energy Security Leadership Council, a group of business executives and retired U.S. military officials, is calling on removal of regulatory barriers and a national policy to help bring autonomous vehicles to roads.

Proposals released by the council were outlined in a series of policy recommendations. The Energy Security Leadership Council is co-chaired by FedEx CEO Frederick Smith and retired Gen. James Conway, the 34th commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps. The council is a project of Securing America’s Future Energy (SAFE), which seeks to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil.

The council would like to see a federal policy override conflicting state policies on autonomous vehicles. It also recommends that the Federal Motors Vehicle Safety Standards contribute “broad outlines” providing vehicle manufacturers flexibility on how the targets will be met. The group would like to contribute the experience and perspectives of corporate and military leaders to development of the technology, which carries a series of implications over energy consumption, natural security, safety, and mobility benefits.

The proposed federal policy, which has yet to be finalized, calls for a five level program, numbered 0 to 4, with Level 4 governing full self-driving automation. The council’s proposals were released as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration drafts guidelines for the safe deployment of autonomous vehicles, which are expected to be released by July.

“Ultimately, we should allow Level 4 cars on roads as soon as they are as safe as today’s vehicles,” said Robbie Diamond, CEO of SAFE.

SAFE aims to reduce the transportation industry’s dependence on oil from 92 percent today to 50 percent by 2040. SAFE sees fully autonomous vehicles playing a key role, along with maximized U.S. oil and gas production and support for alternative fuels such as battery-powered and hydrogen-fueled vehicles.

The group would also like to see reforms made to the federal government’s $7,500 electric vehicle tax credit by removing the cap on EVs eligible. Those caps are currently limited to the first 200,000 EVs sold per manufacturer. SAFE also supports a lower tax credit for EVs costing more than $40,000, and EVs that cost $50,000 or more ineligible for the tax credit.

“We don’t need to help rich folks pay for their Teslas,” Conway said.

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