Carmakers launch radio campaign to tout innovation

David Shepardson
Detroit News Washington Bureau

Washington, D.C. — Major automakers are launching a series of radio advertisements touting investments in innovative technologies and efforts to reduce crashes and injuries.

The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers — the trade association representing Detroit’s Big Three automakers, Toyota Motor Corp., Daimler AG, Volkswagen AG and others — launched a series of radio ads Monday that will run through December.

The initial 60-second ads are in the form of a mock newscast. “This is the most innovative time in automotive history,” one ad says.

The ads feature top safety and lobbyist officials from the 11 automakers in the group.

For the first two weeks of the campaign, a new company each day will share what it is doing. The ads will run on drive time on WTOP, the leading news station in Washington, D.C., aimed at policymakers in their cars.

The alliance also will run Web ads in Hill publications linking to the ads in the campaign under the banner: “Here’s what automakers are doing to innovate.”

The group noted that Silicon Valley now has labs operated by each of the world’s nine largest automakers and three largest auto suppliers. Automotive technologies are driving innovation.

Major automakers are feeling some pressure from tech giants Google Inc. and Apple Inc. that are working on autonomous vehicles They are eager to emphasize their efforts to remain on the cutting edge of auto technologies.

At the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, a record 10 automakers showcased technologies among an expanded lineup of automotive technology exhibits, keynotes and conference sessions. Auto exhibits at the 2015 CES covered more than 165,000 square feet of space, up 17 percent over the 2014 show, the group said.

In recent years, the National Transportation Safety Board has called on automakers and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to make standard expensive technological safety features on all vehicles. Congress has been considering additional mandates in a sweeping highway bill.

The NTSB in June again called on automakers to make forward collision warning systems standard on all vehicles. On Friday, 10 major automakers agreed in principle to eventually add the technology to future cars and trucks.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s chief, Mark Rosekind, said on Friday it would take seven to eight years to write rules mandating the technology and implement them. The voluntary agreement will allow a faster deployment of the technology, he said. NHTSA and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety will be meeting with the automakers in the coming months to formalize the agreement.