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GR Report: January 2023
January 19, 2023 by Amy Schoppman

Auto Grant No Longer Once-in-a-Lifetime

In case you missed it: The Veterans Auto and Education Improvement Act has officially been signed into law.   

What do NMEDA members and their U.S. veteran customers need to know?

  1. The auto grant will no longer be once-in-a-lifetime. The law authorizes VA to provide an additional auto grant to eligible veterans if 30 years have passed since they received their first auto grant. In 2033, that timeframe will decrease to permit eligible veterans to receive an additional auto grant once 10 years have passed since they received their first auto grant.
  2. “Medical Services” will be expanded. The law directs VA to update its definition of “medical services” to include certain vehicle modifications (specifically "van lifts, raised doors, raised roofs, air conditioning, and wheelchair tiedowns for passenger use") historically provided through the AAE program.
  3. “Adaptive Equipment” will be expanded.  The law designates nonarticulating trailers designed to transport powered wheelchairs, powered scooters, or other similar mobility devices as "adaptive equipment.” In other words, VA will now officially permit the sale and installation of such products.

 

The upcoming Winter issue of NMEDA’s Circuit Breaker magazine will include a cover story on how this important new law came to be. In the meantime, you can contact NMEDA’s Director of Government Relations & Public Policy (Amy.Schoppman@nmeda.org) with any questions or comments.

 

FTC’s “Junk Fee” Proposal

The Federal Trade Commission is considering regulating advertising across multiple industries – including automotive – with a recent proposal to address add-on products and “junk fees,” defined as “unfair or deceptive fees that are charged for goods or services that have little or no added value to the consumer, including goods or services that consumers would reasonably assume to be included within the overall advertised price.” The FTC’s examination of “hidden” consumer fees that "are disclosed only at a later stage in the consumer’s purchasing process or not at all” follows last summer’s sweeping proposed rule for new car dealers.

NMEDA’s GR team has reviewed the proposal’s Request for Comments (see page 8), and has shared the notice with several of our industry’s marketing professionals.  If you or your dealership would like to share thoughts about this proposal, please contact me by February 1.

 

Livestream with Cruise’s Accessibility Lead

Michele Lee, the Chicago-based Senior Public Affairs Manager of Accessibility at Cruise, discussed her position with the autonomous vehicle (AV) company and its accessible AV development during a recent “Meet an Advocate” livestream hosted by NMEDA partner United Spinal Association.  With a focus on the company’s mission to “safely connect people with places, things, and experiences they love,” Lee discussed the current status of Cruise’s Origin Mobility vehicle, a wheelchair-accessible AV that the company is building in partnership with GM and BraunAbility. USA’s Grassroots Advocacy Manager Annie Streit hosted the conversation, during which the women (who are both wheelchair users) also shared their perspectives on driver evaluations, accessible public transportation, paratransit, ride-sharing, and other aspects of accessible transportation.  A recording of the livestream can be viewed here, and individuals interested in test “driving” and sharing their feedback on the Origin Mobility’s accessibility features and functions can contact michele.lee@unitedspinal.org for more information.

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