Automakers’news fuels Public Policy Day at D.C. Auto Show

I covered today’s Public Policy Day at the Washington Auto Show for, and I wanted to share it with my Be Car Chic readers. Take a read, and see my other Examiner articles here. Also, check out my photo album from the Washington Auto Show!


Today, the Washington Auto Show held its Public Policy Day for legislators, media, and auto industry representatives. The Public Policy Day included a flurry of speeches, product debuts, and news announcements from various automakers.

The day kicked off with a breakfast hosted by Mazda, where IHS Global’s Rebecca Lindland shared many thought-provoking statistics on the automotive industry. Lindland discussed how Generation “Green” (those born after 1995) will be the first-ever generation to grow up always having a hybrid or electric option when selecting a vehicle to purchase. The Obama Administration recently set a goal for one million plug-in hybrid vehicles to be on the roads by 2015; Lindland says Generation Green will largely have the responsibility of getting us there.Lindland also discussed the challenges that electric vehicles inevitably could pose on the U.S. power infrastructure.

Automakers are targeting city dwellers for their plug-in and electric vehicles, making recharging vehicles tricky for consumers. “I live in Boston. I live in a city. I don’t have a garage. Where would I plug in my car?,” said Lindland.

Many big-name speakers did not make it through D.C.’s epic “Thunder Snow” storm last night. Ed Welburn, vice president of Design at General Motors North America, replaced president, Mark Reuss, last-minute. Welburn communicated that GM is committed to keeping its financial house in order, saying that the automaker is now “leaner, stronger, hungrier…and we plan to stay on our two feet.”

Citing the downsizing that General Motors went through over the last two years, Welburn said the company has the “right number of brands.” In 2010, GM sold more vehicles with four brands than it had been selling with twice as many. The Design VP also said GM has the “right number of dealers” – 900 to be exact. Although, I’m certain that the dealers whose stores were forcefully closed in 2009 would disagree.

The Ford Focus Electric received Green Car Journal’s 2011 Green Car Vision Award. Shortly after accepting the award, Susan Cischke, Vice President of Sustainability at Ford, made another announcement to the crowd. Ford is expanding its intelligent vehicle research so that cars can “talk” to one another through wifi connectivity. According to a National Hyghway Transportation Safety report, such a system could potentially help in 91 percent of all police-reported light-vehicle crashes involving unimpaired drivers.

Volkswagen Auto Group – the only auto manufacturer headquartered in the D.C. metropolitan area – also had great news to share. They recently completed construction on a new manufacturing plant in Chattanooga, Tenn., where they are building the all-new Passat. The car maker also announced that they will be bringing more green to the mix via a hybrid Jetta in 2012 and an electric Golf after that.

The day wrapped up with a “Sneak Peek” Reception for attendees and a tribute to Caroll Shelby, who was awarded the Automotive News‘ Lifetime Achievement Award by Keith Crain.The Public Policy Day continues to be a terrific way for legislators in D.C. to engage with automakers and industry representatives. It is vital for any industry as large as the automotive retail industry to both influence and adhere to policy that is made in our nation’s capital.

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Melanie Batenchuk founded Be Car Chic in 2009 as a way to help consumers make smart decisions when buying and selling their cars. Her prior work at the dealership, trade association and manufacturer levels has provided her a deep understanding of the complex facets within the auto industry, making her a leading woman in her field.