By Derek Smith
The Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association recently hosted its second annual ride-and-drive event at RFK Stadium in Washington D.C. to showcase available and emerging vehicle safety and energy technologies for policymakers and regulatory agencies.
The Oct. 4-5 event drew more than 150 people to view products and displays from 12 MEMA-member companies over two days. Attendees were able to experience firsthand technologies such as stability control, adaptive cruise control and collision warning systems from the cab of vehicles equipped with the systems.
“The regulators in particular – people from NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration), NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board) and FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) – come here for hands-on experience with technologies that they’re regulating,” says Ann McCulloch, MEMA director of external affairs. “The same with congressional staff. This gives them a chance to get behind the wheel and see these technologies in action. We bring the technologies to them, as opposed to them having to seek out all of this on their own.”
Among the attendees of the event were Reps. Robert Aderholt (R-Ala.) and Joe Knollenberg (R-Mich.), as well as congressional staff from other districts.
“We’ve seen a lot of congressional staff come through representing offices from across the country,” says McCulloch. “A lot of it is concentrated from Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee where suppliers are located, and that is really the audience we went after. We want them to have a better understanding of the companies in their districts and the wonderful technologies that they’re manufacturing.”
The energy systems on display included hybrid powertrains and idle-reduction technologies for both automotive and commercial vehicles. Safety systems were demonstrated on dry van, mixer and tanker trucks to provide a variety of application scenarios. Ride-and-drives were done with both the safety systems off and activated to show their effectiveness.
Companies that participated in the event included Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems, BorgWarner, Delphi, Gates, Gentex, Magna International of America, Meritor WABCO Vehicle Control Systems, PPG Industries, Bosch, SABIC Innovative Plastics, Valeo and Webasto.
“We are very pleased with the turnout and express our thanks to the participating companies,” said Bob McKenna, MEMA president and chief executive officer. “The event gave policymakers in Washington the opportunity to see the great strides suppliers are making in improving vehicle safety and fuel efficiency, and it gave the industry a chance to emphasize legislation that furthers these objectives.”