Securing America's Future Energy

SAFE Analysis Shows 80 Percent of Light-Duty Autonomous Vehicles Use Alternative Fuel Powertrains

Contact: Leslie Hayward
Number: 202-461-2364

Testimony submitted today to House Energy and Commerce Committee explains energy security benefits of driverless cars

Washington, D.C.—A new analysis by Securing America’s Future Energy (SAFE), submitted today to the House Energy and Commerce Committee as part of the “Self-Driving Cars: Road to Deployment” hearing, provides further evidence of the natural link between autonomous and electric vehicles. SAFE finds that 58 percent of autonomous light-duty vehicle retrofits and models are built over an electric powertrain, while a further 21 percent utilize a hybrid powertrain. By comparison, in the larger light-duty vehicle market, only 14 percent of domestically available 2016 models were either electric or hybrid.

SAFE anticipates that autonomous vehicles (AVs) and accompanying business model innovation is likely to accelerate consumer and fleet adoption of electric vehicles without government mandates or market interference. “Electric vehicle technology is one of the best opportunities for us to wean ourselves off of oil, but consumer uptake has lagged what is needed to diversify our transportation system off of a single, volatile commodity,” said SAFE President and CEO Robbie Diamond. “Autonomous vehicles offer a very different value proposition and SAFE is confident that if deployed correctly, they will expedite the transition away from oil.”

SAFE argues for the safe and expeditious deployment of autonomous vehicles to capture a range of societal benefits, including a dramatic reduction in roadway fatalities, improved mobility access for Americans with disabilities and other underserved populations, and to expedite the deployment of alternative fuel vehicles to combat the costs of oil dependence. At present, 92 percent of U.S. transportation is powered by oil, leaving the nation’s economy vulnerable to oil price spikes and oil market manipulation by OPEC and national oil companies.

In recent months, SAFE has proposed a range of recommendations to policymakers, and identified opportunities for Congress to provide flexibility and protection to AV developers. SAFE also recommends that Congress should authorize pilot deployments of AVs in American communities by working with industry to target social good “use-cases” and facilitating collaboration among stakeholders.

SAFE has provided other recommendations towards an industry-led regulatory framework through the organization’s Commission on Autonomous Vehicle Testing and Safety. These recommendations include:

  • Creating an industry-wide policy statement defining the minimum acceptable safety standard for AVs. A reasonable standard would be to allow AVs on the road once they are as safe as the average human driver.
  • Incorporation of redundant safety measures in the vehicle including, for example, DSRC-based V2X communications
  • Companies should create a staged, safety milestone plan for AVs, including public disclosure of achieved milestones.
  • The formation of a technical data consortium to accelerate AV learning and safety through shared, anonymized information.
  • Research and development to support the formulation of objective, practical, quantitative metrics for measuring AV safety, which are necessary to ascertain whether AVs meet safety goals.

About Securing America’s Future Energy (SAFE)

Securing America’s Future Energy (SAFE) is an action-oriented, nonpartisan organization that aims to reduce America’s dependence on oil. Near-total dependence on petroleum in the transportation sector undermines the nation’s economic and national security, and constrains U.S. foreign policy. To combat these threats, SAFE advocates for expanded domestic production of U.S. oil and gas resources, continued improvements in vehicle fuel efficiency, and transportation sector innovations including electric vehicles, natural gas trucks, and autonomous vehicles. In 2006, SAFE joined with General P.X. Kelley (Ret.), 28th Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps, and Frederick W. Smith, Chairman, President, and CEO of FedEx Corporation, to form the Energy Security Leadership Council (ESLC), a group of business and former military leaders committed to reducing the United States’ dependence on oil. Today, the ESLC is co-chaired by Frederick W. Smith and General James T. Conway (Ret), 34th Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps.


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