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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

Scoop: Gina Haspel almost resigned over plan to install Kash Patel as CIA deputy

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

CIA Director Gina Haspel almost resigned in early December after President Trump cooked up a hasty plan to install loyalist Kash Patel, a former aide to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), as her deputy, according to three senior administration officials with direct knowledge of the matter.

Why it matters: The revelations stunned national security officials and almost blew up the leadership of the world's most powerful spy agency.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus deaths reach 4,000 per day as hospitals remain in crisis mode — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Biden says, "We will manage the hell out of" vaccine distribution — Biden taps ex-FDA chief to lead Operation Warp Speed amid rollout of COVID plan — Widow of GOP congressman-elect who died of COVID-19 will run to fill his seat.
  3. Vaccine: Battling Black mistrust of the vaccines"Pharmacy deserts" could become vaccine deserts — Instacart to give $25 to shoppers who get vaccine.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode againFed chair: No interest rate hike coming any time soon —  Inflation rose more than expected in December.
  5. World: WHO team arrives in China to investigate pandemic origins.

NRA declares bankruptcy, says it will reincorporate in Texas

Wayne LaPierre of the National Rifle Association (NRA) speaks during CPAC in 2016. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The National Rifle Association said Friday it has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and will seek to reincorporate in Texas, calling New York, where it is currently registered, a "toxic political environment."

The big picture: The move comes just months after New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit to dissolve the NRA, alleging the group committed fraud by diverting roughly $64 million in charitable donations over three years to support reckless spending by its executives.