Former interim NHTSA chief Friedman takes policy role at Consumers Union

on Jul11

Friedman’s new role at Consumers Union will be to advance the “safety and sustainability of the cars and products we buy.”

David Friedman, the former interim head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, was named director of cars and product policy and analysis for Consumers Union, the policy arm of Consumer Reports that focuses on product testing and consumer advocacy.

Friedman, 46, an engineer who has urged stricter fuel economy standards and less oil consumption, is expected to advocate auto safety and sustainability in the association’s new position.

He most recently served at the Department of Energy, where he led a $2 billion r&d facility that accelerated efforts to transition to clean and renewable energy. He resigned when former President Barack Obama’s term ended.

“We met President Obama’s goal of saving more than 3 billion metric tons of global warming pollution by 2030 through appliance efficiency standards,” Friedman told Automotive News.

Friedman served as interim administrator at NHTSA during the 2014 General Motors recall crisis and the ongoing Takata airbag recall, now the largest in automotive history.

His permanent successor at NHTSA, Mark Rosekind, told​ Automotive News in 2015 that Friedman had served “during one of the agency’s toughest times” and named him an “invaluable resource.”

“David brings deep knowledge of policy and technology, as well as a passionate commitment to helping consumers,” Jessica Rich, vice president of consumer policy and mobilization at Consumers Union, said in a statement.

Friedman’s new role at Consumers Union will be to advance the “safety and sustainability of the cars and products we buy,” Rich said.

Before joining NHTSA, Friedman lobbied for an increase in corporate average fuel economy requirements at the Union of Concerned Scientists during his 10-year term with the group. He rebutted claims from large automakers that tougher CAFE standards were unaffordable or impractical and provided them with an influx of science-based reports.

“With the pace of automotive technology changing so fast, I want to work across Consumer Reports and Consumers Union to educate consumers and policymakers about the growing number of options they can choose to protect themselves and their family on our roads and save money on gas,” Friedman said.

“I also want to work with our team to help establish a marketplace where proven life-saving technology comes standard on every car and truck, regardless of size, trim or price-point.”

While at NHTSA, Friedman guided the agency’s crackdown of Japanese airbag supplier Takata and its defective airbag inflators, now linked to 17 deaths globally and at least 180 injuries.

Friedman was named a nongovernmental Automotive News​ All-Star in 2008 for his environmental work in the auto industry.

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