June 19, 2024
Technology

The U.S. may ban or impose restrictions on Chinese connected vehicles

WASHINGTON — The United States could potentially implement “drastic measures” and restrict Chinese connected vehicles or impose limitations on them, according to Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo on Wednesday, marking the first indication that a ban could be considered following a national security inquiry.

Raimondo informed Reuters that the Commerce Department is currently evaluating public feedback submitted by April 30 as part of an investigation initiated by the Biden administration in February to evaluate the national security implications of Chinese vehicle imports.

“We need to analyze all the information and then determine the appropriate course of action,” Raimondo stated without specifying a specific timeline. “We have the option to take extreme steps, such as prohibiting Chinese connected vehicles in the United States, or explore potential mitigating measures like safeguards, regulations, or other requirements.”

In February, the White House mentioned that the Commerce investigation was initiated because vehicles “collect vast amounts of sensitive data on their drivers and passengers and regularly utilize cameras and sensors to record detailed information about U.S. infrastructure.”

White House officials emphasized in February that it was premature to speculate on the actions that may be taken regarding connected Chinese vehicles.

Raimondo expressed her concerns during a hearing at the U.S. House of Representatives regarding Chinese connected vehicles potentially gathering extensive data on Americans, including their identities, conversations within the vehicle, travel destinations, and driving patterns. She emphasized the need for the United States to address the serious threat posed by Chinese connected vehicles and other technological issues.

President Joe Biden has consistently stated his intention to take steps to prevent an influx of Chinese vehicle imports.

Currently, there are relatively few Chinese-manufactured light-duty vehicles imported into the United States.

In their feedback to the Commerce Department, automakers pointed out the challenges of revamping their technology systems to address national security concerns.

The Alliance for Automotive Innovation, a trade organization representing major automakers such as General Motors, Toyota, and Volkswagen, mentioned in a filing on April 30 that automakers are dedicated to establishing a framework for information and communications technology and service systems in connected vehicles that effectively mitigate the risks associated with Chinese-designed systems.

However, they cautioned that vehicle systems, including their hardware and software components, undergo rigorous pre-production engineering, testing, and validation processes and are generally not easily interchangeable with systems or components from a different supplier.

In a separate filing, the South Korean government expressed concerns about the extensive scope of the investigation into connected vehicle supply chains, uncertainties surrounding potential regulatory targets, and the timing of implementation, all of which could impose significant burdens on the industry.

Senator Sherrod Brown of the Senate Banking Committee stated on Wednesday that he had recommended in a filing for the Commerce Department to prohibit all Chinese internet-connected vehicles and smart vehicle technology originating from China.

Additionally, the Biden administration is contemplating imposing new tariffs on Chinese-made vehicles, and officials are facing pressure to restrict Chinese electric vehicle imports from Mexico.

In March, the Chinese foreign ministry dismissed allegations of unfair practices regarding Chinese cars’ global popularity, attributing their success to intense market competition and technological innovation.

In November, a bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers raised concerns about Chinese companies collecting and handling sensitive data while conducting autonomous vehicle tests in the United States.

FAQ

What is the Commerce Department investigating regarding Chinese vehicle imports?

The Commerce Department is conducting a national security investigation to assess the potential risks posed by Chinese vehicle imports, specifically related to collecting sensitive data and utilizing cameras and sensors.

Conclusion

The United States is actively evaluating the national security implications of Chinese connected vehicles and considering potential measures, such as restrictions or safeguards, to address these concerns. The ongoing investigation highlights the importance of safeguarding sensitive data and ensuring the security of connected vehicle systems in the interest of national security.

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