Driverless Car Growth Causes Political Tension in California

California Gov. Gavin Newsom walked out of the Tesla gigafactory in China last month feeling jazzed about the future.

A future where people do a lot less driving, instead being whisked around by autonomous cars and flying taxis. A future where, he said, the “entire transportation system is completely reorganized…”

The friction is growing as autonomous vehicle companies ramp up their lobbying in Sacramento. Cruise, Waymo, Motional and the Autonomous Vehicle Industry Assn. collectively spent about $2.4 million on lobbying the state government in the first nine months of this year — more than three times the $671,579 they spent lobbying in all of last year, according to disclosures filed with the Secretary of State. Much of that increase is due to a huge jump in spending by Waymo, the business owned by Google’s parent company that operates robotaxis in San Francisco and Santa Monica, with plans to expand to other parts of L.A. this month.

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