Tesla’s business model for selling cars from factory owned stores is still viable in Ohio after the Ohio state House Transportation, Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee didn’t vote on a licensing amendment that would prohibit a “manufacturer or a subsidiary, parent, or affiliated entity of a manufacturer” from getting a license as a motor vehicle dealer in the state. Tesla Motors said earlier in the week that if the legislation, supported by the Ohio Automobile Dealers Association, was enacted it would prevent Tesla from selling cars in Ohio. Read More >
China is the world’s biggest emitter of carbon dioxide and on Thursday the Obama administration announced that the United States will help the Chinese government implement stricter emissions standards on cars and trucks. The announcement was made at the end of Vice President Joe Biden’s state visit to China. Under the agreement, the U.S. promised to provide China with technical assistance in implementing particulate regulations known as China VI.
“These standards, when implemented, will have significant air quality and climate benefits and reduce vehicle fuel use,” according to a fact sheet released by the White House. Using bilateral and multilateral diplomacy is a key part of Pres. Obama’s Climate Action Plan, aimed at controlling greenhouse gases, of which the U.S. and China are the world’s two biggest emitters.
Contributing to China’s pollution issues is the rapid growth of the country’s vehicle fleet. At the end of 2012, there were 120 passenger cars in China and according to the Chinese government, that figure will grow to over 200 million by 2020. To address increased pollution some of China’s larger cities have restricted new vehicle sales. The capital city of Beijing will have as many as 6 million private cars by 2015.
China is currently implementing the country’s fourth stage of emissions standards, which reduce sulfur content in diesel fuel down to 50 parts per million, compared to the U.S. standard of 15 ppm and the European Union’s 10 parts per million limit.
An unnamed U.S. official said that it is significant that China wants help jump starting the sixth stage of standards while it is still formulating implementation of the fifth stage. “The United States is interested in moving to China to six as soon as possible,” the official said. “It is a clear signal that China wants to move forward in an accelerated way that will have far-reaching impacts on air quality and public health.”
The U.S. EPA and Dept. of Energy will help their Chinese equivalents with modeling, testing and research aimed at developing the standards.
Also part of the agreement will be a reduction in the consumption of hydrofluorocarbons used as refrigerants, and a joint study aimed at phasing out fossil fuel subsidies in both countries.
Ally Financial, the bank holding company formerly known as GMAC, is still a major part of the United States federal government investment portfolio in the five years since it was bailed out at the start of the Great Recession. Yet, it may be able to soon divest its ownership in part due to General Motors selling their remaining shares.
It is no surprise that U.S. automobile dealers have been in a tizzy the past few months as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has been rattling its swords threatening to ban them from marking up interest rates on car loans, a sacred profit center for dealerships. Using methodology that assumes a person’s race can be determined by their last name and their gender by their first name, the CFPB claims that certain protected classes are being discriminated against in terms of being charged higher interest rates and thus the practice must stop.
What is a surprise is that Congress is equally annoyed with the agency’s strategy and lack of transparency, and recently announced new regulations limiting their power. No matter the outcome, there is a real possibility that the unintended consequences of the CFPB’s actions will be higher car loan rates for you. Read More >
Volkswagen’s head in the United States says that the company would give thought to bringing the Amarok pickup truck to the U.S. if the so-called Chicken Tax is repealed. In the 1960s, President’s DeGaulle and Johnson got into a spat and in response to a European tax on American chickens, the U.S. instituted a 25% tariff on a number of items including light trucks, probably targeted at the VW Bus.
Though NASCAR is officially based in Daytona Beach, Florida, the geographic home of American stock car racing is in and around Charlotte, North Carolina, where most of the top NASCAR teams have their race shops. When the state senate voted unanimously to block internet auto sales in NC, since dealer franchise laws there already prevent Tesla from opening its own retail outlets the new legislation would have made it impossible for the company to sell cars there at all. Tesla, in response, has come up with a novel way to lobby lawmakers in a state known for its car enthusiasm: they gave legislators test drives in Tesla’s Model S.
“When you accelerate it, it was the same sort of feeling I got when I test-drove a Mustang Boss back when I was probably 23 years old,” North Carolina House Speaker Thomas Tillis, 53, a Republican, told the Raleigh News & Observer. Read More >
Brazilian government sources tell Reuters that Jaguar Land Rover will build a new factory in Itatiaia, Rio de Janeiro state, investing about 1 billion reais ($436.9 million) in building and equipping the facility. An official announcement is scheduled for next week and production could being within 2 years. The plant would employ 500 to 700 people. “Everything is very advanced with only minor details to be worked out,” said Luiz Carlos Ferreira Bastos, Itatiaia’s mayor.
Earlier this month, JLR said that it plans to expand manufacturing and increase production in overseas markets, particularly in China and Brazil. The move follows decisions by BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi to build assembly plants, encouraged by government plans to raise taxes on imported vehicles at the same time as it is offering tax incentives to automakers that invest in Brazilian operations. Read More >
The United States National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that it has the legal authority to regulate cellphones that interact with cars and trucks. At a Congressional hearing last week, NHTSA Administrator David Strickland said the agency plans to issue voluntary guidelines for smartphones in vehicles next year that will be broader in scope than ones issued earlier this year. Strickland said that NHTSA already has authority under the Motor Vehicle Safety Act to regulate cellphones that work with systems in cars. The MVSA covers motor vehicle equipment.
McLaren, like many makers of luxury goods, is having a difficult time moving their fine wares in China as of late, all thanks to a crackdown against lavish spending begun last year by the country’s Communist government.
What do Justin Bieber, Ashton Kutcher and Al Gore all have in common? They may soon — baring a miracle — become the proud owners of the first orphan cars made in the 21st century for well-moneyed consumers by an automaker born in the 21st century, as Fisker Automotive has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
Remember this piece from the Honda Summer 2008 Hydrogen Collection? It was supposed to point the way to future of green fuel technology before the Tesla brought plug-in sex appeal down the ramp with their Roadster and, later on, the S, as well as the trend of compliance EVs from Chevrolet, Volkswagen and Kia.
But with sales of plug-in hybrids advancing far slower than originally expected regulators are taking another look at alternative ZEV powertrains.
This is the Renault Zoe. It’s like most EVs on the road, with its limited range, limited power, and limited usability.
Unlike the other EVs, however, the Zoe comes with DRM attached to its battery pack. In short: If you value your ability to drive the Zoe at all, then you will submit to a rental contract with the pack’s manufacturer. Should you fail to pay the rent or your lease term expires, Renault can and will turn your Zoe into an expensive, useless paperweight by preventing the pack’s ability to be recharged, consequences be damned.
An obscure story in the Azerbaijani press this past summer may be the tip of a much larger iceberg involving General Motors, PSA Peugeot Citroen and the Western World’s current bete noir: the Iranian regime currently embroiled at the heart of a controversial nuclear program, which is subject to economic sanctions by the United States government, including those that specifically target Iran’s automotive industry.
Citing reports from Iran’s Mehr news agency, an Azerbaijani news outlet reported that an unspecified number of brand new Chevrolet Camaro RS 2LT convertibles were imported by a division of Iranian conglomerate Iran Khodro. According to the report, the Camaros were sent from Miami to Paris, and then from Paris to Tehran via a Qatar Airways plane. The report also states that US Customs and Border Patrol documents list the final destination as the Aras Free Trade and Industrial Zone.
Nissan. Cadillac. Chevrolet. All brag about being the Lord of the ‘Ring, upsetting the German automakers to no end. Yet, one of them may still have the last laugh through the act of saving the Nürburgring from certain doom.
The Government Accountability Office issued a report on the U.S. Treasury’s investment in General Motors (and Ally Financial, the former GMAC credit arm of GM) which says that the automaker has improved since 2008 but that there still are concerns about competitiveness and market share as well as pension and labor costs. “Although GM’s financial performance has improved significantly since the company initially received federal assistance, questions remain about competitiveness, market share and costs,” the GAO said. Read More >