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Howes: House bill “revolutionary” in paving the way for more self-driving cars

Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes says Ford could stand to refresh its model lineup, and should invest more in connected vehicles.
Ford Motor Company
Howes says there's growing skepticism from Wall St. investors that traditional automakers will be able to keep up with fast-changing technology driving autonomous vehicle technology.

The advancement towards autonomous vehicles got a boost from Congress this week. Bipartisan actionin the House of Representatives led to approval of a bill that could help the auto industry with its transformation to turning out self-driving vehicles.

Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes says the bill the House approved Thursday allows automakers to test up to 100,000 self-driving cars on American roads. The bill also bars states from passing laws to stop automakers from testing autonomous vehicles.

“This is really revolutionary in a lot of ways,” Howes said. "It’s even more revolutionary in the sense that it’s … bipartisan in Donald Trump’s Washington… [and] it’s the government trying to get out front of this drive for self-driving cars."

Howes said it’s a “refreshing” sign that federal government officials from both parties understand the potential implications of how autonomous vehicle technology could change business and transportation in the United States.

A survey from AlixPartners LLP, an auto industry consultant, shows a high percentage of consumers polled – 55% – say they are “unlikely” to buy an autonomous vehicle. Howes said that automakers have a lot of work to do in the name of convincing consumers, and investors, that traditional automakers can safely engineer and manufacture autonomous vehicles.

“This is the biggest change to the automotive industry since the moving assembly line,” Howes said. “The stakes are huge for traditional automakers, including Detroit’s automakers, and there’s no guarantee they come out on top here.”

Listen to the entire conversation with Daniel Howes, Detroit News business columnist, above.

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