LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — In Motional's Las Vegas headquarters, dozens of cars sit ready for a daily drive and none require a driver to get behind the wheel to safely operate.
The fleet of autonomous vehicles have been on city streets downtown and on the Las Vegas Strip for years, but the company has pledged to make the rideshare cars greener and smarter in the near future.
"It's truly phenominal what's taking place here in the Las Vegas valley," said Andrew Sierra, Nevada Conservation League political organizing director.
Sierra applauded the company's move to sunset their gas powered BMW fleet and go electric with Ioniq cars in the next few months.
Motional Public Policy senior manager Nick Greif said the company wanted to make personal car ownership obsolete by deploying a new generation of fully autonomous electric cars which can navigate without human interaction ready for rides with the press of an app.
The goal, he said, would be to reduce the impact of climate change on Las Vegas and vulnerable communities.
"We know for a fact here at NCL that climate change and the climate crisis disproportionately impact front line communities," Sierra said. "So black, brown, low income communities."
That disproportionate impact was why several people like Dr. Mary House decided to tour the Motional facility and talk with county and state politicians during an NCL round table Tuesday.
"We get left out a lot," House said. "Our communities are left out all the time. So now, I just want to make sure out legislators, our government, the funds that are coming through in our state, get into our communities of color."
Studies have consistently shown climate change and pollution affect minority communities disproportionately in the U.S. so House has been adamant about spreading the word of electric vehicle benefits to her neighbors.
Motional executives said autonomous EVs can operate as part of a larger plan including public transport and renewable energy sources to improve conditions in vulnerable communities.
House said she hoped the transition to cleaner energy sources would come soon.
"This conversation, starting with transportation, is where we begin, but there is a journey that is ahead of us," she said.
Motional said they hoped to have fully autonomous vehicles that don't require a person in the driver seat on the road in Las Vegas in 2023.