Auto Execs Lament State of Connected Car Regulation

Industry is still unsure which way D.C. might regulate

The connected car is one of the hottest topics at this year’s International CES, but to make it a reality, the auto industry will first need to navigate a Web of government agencies and regulations that it didn’t have to worry about before.

Before a packed room at the International CES, (which has become the fourth largest auto show), auto executives seemed to be feeling their way around the policy implications of outfitting a connected car with the capabilities that consumers crave.

“We have one chance to get it right and we won’t attain it if we don’t address privacy and if consumers don’t trust us,” said David Strickland, the administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

For the first time, in addition to safety regulations, auto industry representatives lamented that they now had to pay attention to agencies like the Federal Trade Commission for privacy and data security issues and the Federal Communications Commission for spectrum.

“We have 7 to 8 agencies that are regulating our product; we need a more cooperative arrangement so we can solve the problem together,” said Mike Stanton, the president and CEO for the Association of Global Automakers.

But too much regulation could stymie big auto’s push to link cars to the Internet of things.

“There’s a lot of regulatory uncertainty right now and it’s stifling innovation,” said Hilary Cain, Toyota’s national manager for technology and innovation policy. “We won’t deploy technology until we know.”

While regulatory policy takes years to implement, technology is advancing at warp speed.

“Regulating something instantaneously does not solve the problem,” said Andrew Brown, vp and chief technologist in Delphi’s technology office. With any standard or guidelines, you don’t want to regulate the technology. What we need to do is collaborate, work together, find out what the issues are, but facilitate innovation. We get the best solutions when we can compete against each other.”