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The Volkswagen AG factory in Dresden, Germany. Photo: Jens Schlueter/Getty Images

Toyota, Renault, and VW have announced concept AVs that could be wheelchair accessible, but American automakers have yet to share wheelchair accessible design concepts.

Why it matters: If American auto manufacturers cede leadership on accessibility, they could end up forfeiting leadership on AV design more broadly and minimizing the role their cars can play in ridesharing long-term.

Background: AVs are initially expected to roll out in ridesharing fleets, which will likely opt for cars that serve the needs of as many potential passengers as possible.

What's happening: The rise of ridesharing and the possibility of the auto market moving away from traditional car ownership and towards transportation services has put an impetus on automakers to design cars that prioritize passenger space.

  • Cars will need to be roomier and more comfortable to accommodate more passengers, including wheelchair users or parents with strollers.
  • On these fronts, the concept AVs from Toyota, Renault, and VW appear to be leading the field. American automakers haven't shown they are making this a priority.

Reality check: Ridesharing companies operating in the U.S. are beginning to serve people with disabilities in certain markets. They will need to partner with automakers who have factored accessibility into vehicle design.

The bottom line: Companies that successfully develop seating configurations that allow for more riders, and for riders to have full mobility independence, are likely to offer the most attractive models for ridesharing companies.

Henry Claypool is a policy expert affiliated with UCSF and the AAPD and a former director of the U.S. Health and Human Services Office on Disability. The AAPD, as part of the We Will Ride Coalition, has held informational meetings with automakers including VW.

Go deeper

Texas Republicans pass new congressional maps in their favor

Photo: Matthew Busch/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Texas House voted 84-59 late Monday to approve new congressional district maps that reduce the number of districts with Black and Hispanic majorities, per the Texas Tribune.

Why it matters: The legislation comes after recent census figures found Texas' growing diverse population doesn't bode well for Republicans, who then worked to protect incumbents with the redrawn maps.

2 hours ago - World

North Korea's military fires another ballistic missile into sea

A woman in Seoul, South Korea, walks past a television image if North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Photo: Jung Yeon-je/AFP via Getty Images

North Korea's military fired at least one ballistic missile into the sea off its east coast on Tuesday, per multiple reports.

Why it matters: Pyongyang's latest in a series of recent missile launches happened hours after U.S. officials emphasized their commitment to restart negotiations on North Korea's nuclear weapons program, which have stalled since talks broke down during the Trump administration, AP notes.

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Trump sues National Archives, Jan. 6 committee to block records request

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

President Trump filed a lawsuit Monday seeking to block the National Archives from releasing White House records to the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection, citing executive privilege.

Why it matters: It's the latest escalation in Trump's campaign to disrupt the committee's sweeping probe into the circumstances surrounding Jan. 6, including his actions and communications leading up to the Capitol attack.