Ending America's dependence on foreign oil and securing clean, renewable energy alternatives are both huge topics right now, both in and out of the tech world. One group who tends to be very vocal about these subjects, Securing America's Future Energy, is chaired by none other than the President, Chairman and CEO of FedEx, Frederick Smith, along with James Conway, a retired U.S. Marine Corps Commandant. The pair and the group behind them asked U.S. lawmakers on Thursday to revise applicable tax laws to make buying electric vehicles easier and cheaper, and to cut the red tape that's slowing the deployment of self-driving cars.
Self-driving cars, at this point in the game, are almost exclusively electric vehicles and hybrids, no matter whose stable you're looking at. While this alone would be a good enough reason for SAFE to target the autonomous autos, the fact is, quite simply, humans are pretty bad at driving, overall. Unnecessary stops, going left to right in the lanes and inefficient use of the gas pedal, especially in vehicles with manual transmissions, lead to unnecessary and excessive emissions, even by car standards. Between these two factors, a road full of self-driving cars would be far more energy efficient and much better for the environment than our current situation. The group called for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to revise federal law and keep States from possibly using safety equipment regulations to prevent the adoption of fully autonomous vehicles without standard controls. While the NHTSA did promise to have rules at the ready by July, SAFE is pushing to ensure those rules are the right ones and, if possible, that they come sooner. SAFE is also pushing for pilot testing of automated delivery trucks.
The organization also touched on electric vehicles, saying that they're not coming to market fast enough. They want to have the tax credit structure changed to encourage the creation and sale of more affordable electric vehicles, by knocking down the tax credit that the automaker has to offer customers for vehicles over $40,000 just a bit and abolishing it entirely for vehicles over $50,000. Hopefully, this would mean that automakers can offer a wider variety of cheaper vehicles and afford to offer meaningful tax credits on them. The group also said that they want to see the tax credit system eliminated entirely by 2023.