MWC’s Michele Satterlund Speaks with Volkswagen’s Nicole Barranco on Shifts in Mobility in a COVID-19 World

September 3, 2020

Pardon Our Dust

We recently launched this new site and are still in the process of updating some of our archived content. Some details of this article may be incomplete, links may be broken, and other elements may not display properly yet. We appreciate your patience and understanding.

In a Sept. 3 article in Area Development, McGuireWoods Consulting senior vice president, Michele Satterlund, interviewed Nicole Barranco, senior director of government relations at Volkswagen Group of America, to discuss pandemic-related shifts in mobility and the future of transportation.

COVID-19 continues to change all aspects of life, including how people commute to their jobs and the way in which goods and services are delivered.

“It is still too early to predict the entire spectrum of mobility changes that are destined to occur, but one thing is for sure — the COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare the fact that our mobility systems are critical to our day-to-day lives and serve as the backbone of the U.S. economy,” Satterlund said. “Now, more than ever, if the U.S. is to keep pace with the mobility advancements being made in other countries, government and business must address the need for an infrastructure strategy that contemplates a future mobility system that is both autonomous and electric.”

As teleworking increases and more people rely on personal mobility options, the pace at which autonomous and electric mobility systems are developed will likely accelerate.

“While mobility functions were always certain to change, the pace at which these changes are happening is picking up speed as society is adapting to a new normal. While the specific mobility modalities still remain to be seen, we know that consumers are rethinking shared transportation, and we as automakers expect increased consumer demand for vehicles that are both autonomous and electric,” Barranco said.

The accelerated pace will also influence infrastructure investments.

“To keep pace with this accelerating global marketplace, the U.S. must direct funding toward the widespread installation of charging stations, electrification incentives, and infrastructure investments such as 5G networks that will improve vehicle-to-infrastructure communication and will complement the deployment of AVs,” Barranco noted. “Addressing the COVID-19 recovery specifically, funding supporting the EV and AV economy is not only appropriate but critical within future federal response legislation. To date, no federal COVID-19 response bill has allocated funding specifically aimed at stimulating this sector.”

COVID-19 has put a spotlight on the importance of the nation’s mobility system and it is critical that we fully utilize the opportunities created during this crisis to develop a clear set of goals and emerge ready to rethink how the U.S. can remain a mobility leader, Barranco added.