197 – How the Infrastructure Bill Will Impact Secure Transportation

We have two topics to discuss in this episode – how the infrastructure bill will impact secure transportation. Also, we’ll share information on a somewhat related topic – the Lucid Air Electric Vehicle.  

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We’ll start things off with the Infrastructure bill.

The newly enacted Build Back Better bill incorporates several provisions for standardizing vehicle safety features. Some of the Bill may affect the Security Drivers and Secure Transportation. The following are some quick hits, and an in-depth paper will be available once we go through the information available.

Electric Vehicles (EVs)

The Bill includes a $2.5 billion grant program to organizations and public entities for building up infrastructure surrounding EVs and alternative fuel vehicles. Biden recently signed an executive order calling for 50 percent of new car sales to be electrified units by 2030. That is eight years away. There are some significant hurdles that need to be overcome before Secure Transportation can go to EVs. There needs to be quicker charging – more charging stations – and increased vehicle range. The Bill is addressing these issues.

Better Headlights – Adaptive Driving Beam Headlights

As we have been writing about for years, the time an executive spends in their vehicle is undoubtedly the highest risk period of their day – driving in low light scenarios increases that risk dramatically. One of the contributors to this increase in risk is the vehicle’s headlights. Most headlights on US Vehicles are inadequate. The Infrastructure Bill will change this.

The Infrastructure Bill gives the Secretary of Transportation a maximum of two years after its passage to amend Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard Number 108 (FMVSS 108). FMVSS 108 governs headlight requirements and allows automakers to integrate this advanced headlight technology on vehicles. The importance of this cannot be overstated.

From CNET – What these headlights can do is automatically shut off certain clusters of LEDs while you’re driving. Today, headlights in the US just go from bright to really bright when flicking on the high beams. Sure, automatic high beams are a thing, but adaptive headlights take things ten steps further.

Say you’re driving on a dark road off the highway, and a car approaches from the opposite direction. The headlights see this, shut down the cluster of lights that would end up blinding the other driver in oncoming traffic, and keep your lane completely lit with as much light as possible. The technology can do this for multiple cars, too, if different lanes.

It doesn’t end there, however. Adaptive headlights can project patterns onto the road to help drivers see when a lane ends. Some brands are tinkering with symbols splashed onto the road to let drivers know of hazards up ahead, such as ice. The possibilities are enormous for the wild lighting tech.

So, at the latest, we could see this fancy tech on numerous new cars by 2024, but perhaps even sooner than that.

See Adaptive headlights finally legal in the US with Biden’s infrastructure bill signed into law

Vehicle mileage tax program

The vehicle mileage tax program included in the infrastructure bill proposes a three-year pilot program to study the viability of a road user charge. The program would begin in 2022. After the three years is up in 2025, Congress will review the data and decide whether the Vehicle Mileage Program should be voted into law.

There are national as well as state programs that will try out the per-mile user fees. Given that it’s a pilot program and not established into law, it requires passenger and commercial drivers’ to voluntarily participate.  The program will use telematics devices such as onboard diagnostic devices, smartphone apps to monitor drivers. 

ISDA covered Telematics in a recent podcast episode.

These devices will track the miles driven within a specific time. As part of the vehicle mileage tax pilot program, volunteers will pay-per-mile taxes based on the number of miles driven within a particular quarter of the calendar year. 

ISDA has a few concerns about this portion of the Bill. None-more significant than the fact that the government can track you and your principal’s movements, including where and when they drive.  With all due respect to our government, we can’t imagine a government group/agency tracking every vehicle in the US. 

For more info read the Metro Mile article

Crash avoidance technology

Forward-collision warning, automated emergency braking, lane-departure warning, and lane-keeping assist systems are coming to your future car—like it or not. When, however, it is still up for debate, as the Act gives the Secretary of Transportation the power to determine a date to mandate this technology. 

Many automakers are already ahead of the curve on this one. Many of the recently redesigned models have standard forward-collision warning and automatic braking system technology.

The most important portion of the Bill is that it has mandated that the Secretary of Transportation establish a minimum performance standard with respect to crash avoidance technology. The Bill will require that all passenger motor vehicles manufactured in the United States on or after the compliance date comply with the standard.

ISDA feels that the creation of a standard for crash avoidance technology is long overdue. Keep in mind that not all crash avoidance technology is created equal. The performance of these systems varies considerably. For example, an Automated Emergency Braking System in one vehicle will stop at the rate of .35G’s, and another will stop at .7g’s. The vehicle that stops at the .35G rate will take twice as long to stop as the vehicle with the .7G rate of deceleration, which can be problematic.

Lucid Motor Trend Car of the Year

Over the years, we have taken the Motor Trend Car of the Year award with a grain of salt – but this year is different. This Year the award went to the Lucid Air Electric Vehicle. Although the interior dimensions of the Lucid Air may not meet a Security Vehicle’s needs, the vehicle’s performance and innovative technology make it a security vehicle in waiting. 

In the past, ISDA’s biggest complaint about using EV’s for Secure Transportation has been three issues – Range, Milage, and Charging Stations. The Lucid can solve two of those issues, Range and Milage.

Miles Per Gallon?

The vehicle has a range of 111 to 131 mpg – e. I’m sure you’re thinking, how do you get miles per gallon (MPG) from an electric vehicle. A quick explanation – MPGe stands for miles per gallon equivalent. Unlike a gas car’s MPG, which can be calculated using a simple formula, such a figure is not obtainable when a battery from a hybrid, plug-in hybrid, or fully electric vehicle uses electricity as its fuel source. 

The MPGe comes via the Environmental Protection Agency. When the EPA devised MPGe in the early 2000s, the government agency calculated that 33.7 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity is comparable to a gallon of fuel in terms of its energy content. 

The 131 MPGe gives the Lucid a 525-mile range, not bad for an EV.

Also, what ISDA found impressive was Lucid’s handling capability. The Motor Trend vehicle test produced .91 G’s on the Skid Pad, a unique number.

But what is more impressive is Motor Trends Figure 8 handling test. In our opinion, the figure-eight track is a better test of handling than the skidpad. The test layout is two 200 foot radius circles with the centers separated by 500 feet. 

The Lucid numbers around the skidpad were .9 G’s or an average speed of 51.9 MPH.  The figure 8 track numbers were .83 G’s with an average speed of 49.9 MPH.

Why the differences of 2 MPH from the skidpad to the figure eight? The Skid Pad is a  steady-state cornering; the figure 8 track takes into account the transition from straight-line speed to cornering. 

The difference of only 2 MPH indicates the Lucid is a good cornering vehicle.

Join the International Security Driver Association

Do you have an interest in going much deeper into these topics? If so, I invite you to check out the International Security Driver Association’s website and consider joining the membership. Upon entering, you will access the encyclopedia of executive protection and secure transportation – The ISDA Knowledge Center.

For more information on all of the member benefits, head over to isdacenter.org.

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