The automotive industry was awash in change in 2021, driven by investment trends, new goals set by the Biden-Harris administration, and international electric vehicle developments. Looking back, 2021 will be viewed as a transformational year for the ways in which automobiles were—and will be—designed, manufactured, powered, sold, and regulated.
President Biden’s Executive Order 14037, titled “Strengthening American Leadership in Clean Cars and Trucks,” set a goal that 50% of all new passenger cars and light trucks sold in 2030 would be zero emission vehicles, including battery electric, plug-in hybrid electric, and fuel-cell electric vehicles. The order also directs new pollution and fuel-economy standards for light, medium, and heavy-duty vehicles starting in model year 2027. This order coincides with the US Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which aims to infuse capital into America’s roads and railways, and to enhance the growth of clean energy alternatives for human mobility. These investment and incentives are designed to, among other things, facilitate increased manufacture, sale and use of electric vehicles.
In a related development, there has been a marked growth in investment, and interest in investment, in automotive and mobility companies. Special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs) have emerged as a primary tool for investment in connected, autonomous, shared, and electrical technologies. Investment in these automotive companies and technologies is anticipated to remain an area of growth. Given the scope of this infusion of capital funds, it should also be expected that these areas will invite government interest and support, as well as scrutiny.
The investment in, and development of, connected vehicles emphasizes the tensions between intellectual property law and competition law that have existed for years in both the United States and Europe. Government agencies and European courts, in particular, are increasingly scrutinizing intellectual property and competition issues as they relate to the automotive and mobility sectors.
In this high-level 2021 auto industry overview, Morgan Lewis lawyers provide insight into these developments. For more information and updates in the automotive and mobility space, check out our Morgan Lewis Automotive Hour Webinar Series.