New Arizona Chamber Foundation paper credits regulatory environment championed by Gov. Ducey and state policymakers as critical to autonomous tech sector’s growth in state

PHOENIX (January 6, 2020)—The Arizona Chamber Foundation today released a new policy brief that finds that the 2020s are likely to be a decade of tremendous growth and opportunity for Arizona’s autonomous vehicle (AV) industry.

The paper, “Economic Impacts of Advancing Arizona’s Competitive Position in the Autonomous Vehicle Industry,” finds that Arizona is especially well positioned to capture a disproportionate percentage of the long-term economic benefits of the AV industry. Nationally, the AV industry is expected to grow to $557 billion by 2026, and by 2023 the automotive and tech sectors will have invested an estimated $61 billion in AV development.

Authored by economist Jim Rounds and the team at Rounds Consulting Group, Inc., the analysis finds that thanks to economic opportunities presented by AV, Arizona could increase its state and local tax collections by approximately $500 million by 2030, a figure that Rounds characterizes as conservative.

“We calculated the impact of the autonomous vehicle industry in Arizona using various models and assumptions, and any way you cut it, it’s clear that Arizona’s policies have positioned our state to reap a disproportionate share of the benefit from this growing industry,” Rounds said.

Glenn Hamer, the chairman of the Arizona Chamber Foundation and the president and CEO of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the policy brief makes clear how intentional public policy decisions can allow emerging sectors of the economy to flourish.

“Credit is due the administration of Gov. Doug Ducey for making the conscious decision to make Arizona a welcoming environment for an industry that will likely deliver the most exciting technological advancements in the 21st century’s third decade,” Hamer said. “Since 2015 when Gov. Ducey issued an executive order establishing the state’s support for AV technology, research and development, manufacturing, and testing have all taken off. That doesn’t happen without a regulatory environment that is encouraging this burgeoning sector to get off the ground.”

Arizona is only one of 11 states that have issued executive orders specifically to encourage the AV technology sector. Gov. Ducey issued a second executive order in 2018 updating guidance to align with technological developments and creating the Institute of Automated Mobility under the Arizona Commerce Authority, a consortium of private sector, higher education, and governmental officials to promote greater collaboration in the sector.

According to the Foundation analysis, autonomous technology’s foothold in Arizona means job growth. By 2026, if Arizona firms invest just $6.1 billion in AV-related research and development—a conservative estimate based on current Arizona AV activity—it would lead to nearly 40,000 direct new jobs and $4.3 billion in economic output, with another 35,000 new jobs downstream.

“Consider the number of firms, large and small, that are growing their autonomous technology operations right here in Arizona, and bringing thousands of new jobs in the process,” Hamer said. “From big players like Intel and Waymo, to upstarts like Lucid and Nikola, Arizona in a relatively short period of time has established itself as one of the country’s leading AV testing, research, and manufacturing hubs.”

The paper also discusses the positive impact AV technology will bring to auto safety. There were over 1,000 fatalities due to auto accidents in Arizona in 2018, and more than 36,000 nationally. Highly Automated Vehicles, or HAVs, could dramatically cut those numbers, as well as lower insurance premiums. The continued deployment of Automated Driving Systems (ADS) could reduce auto premiums by as much as 40% according to estimates from national consulting firms.

“As the father of a teen driver and two more who will be behind the wheel very soon, the positive effect this technology has on driver safety can’t be ignored,” Hamer said. “Safer roads, lower insurance costs, and more jobs is a sort of triple crown of transportation public policy.

“We would hope that this paper would encourage policymakers to continue to cultivate a regulatory environment that solidifies Arizona’s place as a leader in AV technology. The 2020s will only see growth in autonomous technology, and we have every reason to anticipate that Arizona is well positioned to benefit.”

The full policy brief can be accessed here: LINK

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