Opening Airwaves to Unlicensed Devices May Threaten Upcoming Vehicle-to-Vehicle Safety Technologies

May 29, 2013

Washington, DC – Allowing unlicensed Wi-Fi devices to share spectrum with connected vehicles must not be permitted without thorough testing, said automakers today in comments filed with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and The Association of Global Automakers submitted joint comments in response to an FCC proposal to allow unlicensed wireless devices to operate in the 5.9 GHz frequency band that has been designated for exclusive use for "time-critical" Vehicle-to-Vehicle (V2V) and Vehicle-to-Infrastructure (V2I) communications.

"V2V safety technologies have the potential to significantly reduce automobile crash fatalities and injuries on our highways," said Mike Stanton, Global Automakers' president and CEO. "There is no room for error in vehicle safety and we want the FCC to do its homework to ensure there is no risk involved with spectrum sharing."

Automakers are concerned that opening up the 5.9 GHz frequency band to other wireless uses could cause harmful interference and affect the integrity of these safety critical communications among cars, trucks, other road users and road equipment such as traffic lights. Communications delays of even thousandths of a single second matter when dealing with auto and highway safety.

"Automakers support the need to explore spectrum sharing," said Alliance President and CEO Mitch Bainwol. "However we must understand that the future of auto safety lies in crash avoidance. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has said it believes connected vehicle technology could potentially address approximately 80 percent of crash scenarios involving non-impaired drivers.

"But these critical safety systems require that communications go through every time without delay. That's why automakers have concerns with the 5.9 GHz frequency band becoming congested," added Bainwol.

Automakers, government agencies and others have already spent hundreds of millions of dollars in the research, development and testing of connected vehicle technologies. Currently, ten major automakers and numerous technology providers have been working with the Department of Transportation's (DOT) Connected Vehicle Research Program in a pilot study of V2V performance in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Nearly 3,000 cars, trucks, and transit buses are testing V2V and V2I technologies. The data from the pilot study will be used by the DOT for future potential regulatory decisions regarding communications systems for crash avoidance.

Both associations and their members have committed to working with the FCC and other stakeholders to address these concerns.

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The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, the leading advocacy group for the auto industry, represents 77% of all car and light truck sales in the United States, including the BMW Group, Chrysler Group LLC, Ford Motor Company, General Motors Corporation, Jaguar Land Rover, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz USA, Mitsubishi Motors, Porsche, Toyota, Volkswagen Group of America and Volvo Cars North America. Learn more at www.autoalliance.org.

The Association of Global Automakers represents international motor vehicle manufacturers, original equipment suppliers, and other automotive-related trade associations. Our members include American Honda Motor Co., Aston Martin Lagonda of North America, Inc., Ferrari North America, Inc., Hyundai Motor America, Isuzu Motors America, Inc., Kia Motors America, Inc., Maserati North America, Inc., McLaren Automotive Ltd., Nissan North America, Inc. Peugeot Motors of America, Subaru of America, Inc., Suzuki Motor of America, Inc., and Toyota Motor North America, Inc. Global Automakers works with industry leaders, legislators, regulators, and other stakeholders in the United States to create public policies that improve motor vehicle safety, encourage technological innovation and protect our planet. Our goal is to foster an open and competitive automotive marketplace that encourages investment, job growth, and development of vehicles that can enhance Americans’ quality of life. For more information, visit www.globalautomakers.org.