CEO Column

Showcasing International Automakers at the Washington, D.C. Auto Show | Jennifer Safavian

Jennifer Safavian
January 31, 2023

Last week, international automakers filled the showroom floors at the Washington, D.C. Auto Show with some of their newest and most-advanced vehicles—including a large presence from the growing fleet of high-tech clean vehicles. The impressive lineup was on display all week, with many U.S.-built vehicles present throughout the show.

Toyota brought models assembled at its facilities in Alabama, Kentucky, Indiana, Mississippi, and Texas. Subaru had four models at the show that are assembled at Subaru of Indiana Automotive, its assembly plant in Lafayette, Indiana. Kia displayed four models assembled by workers at the Kia Georgia plant in West Point, Georgia.

Five Nissan models were at the auto show including the Nissan Leaf, assembled at the Nissan Smyrna Assembly Plant in Tennessee. Hyundai had four models on display assembled by workers at Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama, its plant in Montgomery, Alabama. Volvo’s South Carolina-assembled S60 Sedan was on display next to Honda, who brought vehicles assembled at their facilities in Ohio and Alabama. It was a wonderful experience seeing our members displayed so prominently for consumers, auto enthusiasts, policymakers, and the media.  I had the privilege of moderating a panel discussion on the clean vehicle transition currently underway in the automotive industry. The panel included insights from EU Ambassador to the U.S. Stavros Lambrinidis, South Carolina Secretary of Commerce Harry Lightsey, American International Automobile Dealers Association’s (AIADA) President and CEO Cody Lusk, and Panasonic Corporation of North America’s Vice President of Corporate & Government Affairs Jeff Werner. The discussion centered around what it will take to increase clean vehicle sales, meet growing consumer demand, and accomplish our shared climate goals in the coming years and decades. The consensus was that the clean vehicle transition is well underway, but transformation on this scale comes with its own set of challenges. The panel agreed that uncertainty around the clean vehicle tax credit is causing confusion for consumers and cited affordability as a top issue impacting the industry. To accomplish our goals, it will take collaboration between governments and industries with our closest allies.

International automakers are committed to the clean vehicle transition and are making sizeable investments in electrifying their fleets or offering new clean vehicles. Our members alone have committed more than $24 billion over the last three years for clean vehicle production in the U.S.—creating thousands of good-paying manufacturing jobs throughout the country in the process. In 2021, international automakers accounted for 66% of all new green vehicle sales in the U.S. with nearly 1.1 million new green vehicles sold. We expect this number to increase as production ramps up and more consumers transition to clean vehicles in the North American market.

My informative discussions with auto, trade, and technology experts at the D.C. Auto Show were productive and helped deepen my understanding of the challenges facing the U.S. auto industry. As the 118th Congress begins its legislative activity, Autos Drive America will use the insights gained at the D.C. Auto Show to educate and guide lawmakers on what is needed to kick the clean vehicle transition into high gear and drive the U.S. auto industry forward. By working together, we can usher in a cleaner, sustainable future while creating and supporting thousands of jobs in the process.