Category: Government

By on March 23, 2017

08C114_029

In a developing story, the Stuttgart prosecutors’ office has launched an investigation into employees of Daimler, parent company and manufacturer of Mercedes-Benz BlueTEC engines. At issue is the (lately) very common Germanic malady of diesel infidelity.

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By on March 23, 2017

pumping fuel

An economic assessment conducted by the International Council on Clean Transportation found that, due to recent improvements in technology, the Environmental Protection Agency’s rationale for its 2025 fuel efficiency standards may have overestimated the cost for automakers to comply. The ICCT’s study shows average per-car investments 34 to 40 percent lower than the previous EPA appraisal.

While this information, had it come out sooner, may not have kept automotive executives from bending the president’s ear to reevaluate EPA guidelines, it certainly reframes their reasons for doing so. The ICCT, famous for turning researchers loose on Volkswagen diesels, makes a good case that manufacturers have the tools to meet current standards without spending a lot of money.  Read More >

By on March 22, 2017

U.S. Mexico Border

Now that Mexican negotiators aren’t reacting specifically to President Trump’s heated rhetoric over foreign trade policies, their terror and rage has begun to subside. The North American Free Trade Agreement might even continue to exist for the time being.

Trump’s previous attacks on NAFTA, import tariff threats, and promise of a border wall incensed Mexican officials to a point where many suggested Mexico should simply abandon the renegotiation talks on principle. However, now that cabinet officials will be speaking on behalf of the president and the focus of the negotiators have shifted toward the fundamentals — and not the politics — Mexico can relax a little.  Read More >

By on March 17, 2017

Faraday Future FF 91 rear

Faraday Future is more of an automotive marketing company than it is an automaker. The company has been making unsubstantiated promises and ignoring its fiscal woes without giving much assurance that it will ever bring a production car — or assembly plant — into the real world. Problems have continued to mount and, like any deeply rooted zit, the situation is gradually coming to a head.

This month, Nevada State Treasurer Dan Schwartz demanded that the Governor’s Office of Economic Development conduct an audit of Faraday — throwing in Tesla for good measure. Schwartz has been critical of FF ever since it received government money to help build its factory, only to see work on the facility stalled due to nonpayment last fall. Faraday has since scaled back its construction plans, claiming that it was necessary to ensure production begins on schedule.

Now, FF’s primary backer, LeEco, is selling a 49-acre Silicon Valley property less than a year after purchasing it from Yahoo Inc. This comes after the company’s founder and CEO, Jia Yueting, explained to employees in November that LeEco was facing devastating financial issues stemming from its uncontrolled expansion. Read More >

By on March 17, 2017

Fisker Karms (Image: David Villarreal/Flickr)

Automakers would have to fund a larger share of future green technology projects if the Trump White House’s budget blueprint passes as written.

The administration proposes to do away with a little-used — and sometimes controversial — U.S. Energy Department loan program, as well as a grant program dedicated to spurring advanced fuel-saving technologies. Read More >

By on March 16, 2017

Donald Trump

Donald Trump said Wednesday his administration will reopen a review of the current auto emissions directives passed in the final throes of the Obama presidency. This is cause for celebration for automakers, who’ve practically begged the president to repeal the mandates on grounds that the goals are far too uncompromising and ill-suited for the present-day market.

Speaking at the American Center for Mobility, President Trump promised to bring more manufacturing back into the United States and continue to bring down regulatory barriers so that automakers can continue to thrive.

“We’re going to work on the CAFE standards so you can make cars in America again,” Trump said. “There is no more beautiful sight than an American-made car.”

Clearly, the president has either never seen an Aston Martin or is trying to make a point about the importance of domestic product.  Read More >

By on March 13, 2017

Donald Trump

President Trump is prepared to make a formal announcement on the review of vehicle fuel efficiency standards that were locked in at the tail end of the Obama administration. Sources have confirmed that he’ll be meeting with automotive CEOs in Michigan this week to discuss the the situation after listening to them repeatedly beg him to repeal the current guidelines.

The president plans to visit an autonomous vehicle testing facility outside of Detroit on Wednesday before meeting with the automotive heads representing the Detroit Three. White House spokesman Sean Spicer said on Monday that the trip is centered around “job creation and automobile manufacturing … highlighting the need to eliminate burdensome regulations that needlessly hinder meaningful job growth.” Read More >

By on March 9, 2017

Exhaust pipe of running vehicle, Image: By Ruben de Rijcke (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

The Office of the Inspector General is preparing to conduct preliminary research to determine whether the Environmental Protection Agency’s internal controls are effective at detecting and preventing emissions fraud.

While the EPA has proven itself capable of stopping cheaters in the past, the federal oversight group wants to check in on the National Vehicle and Fuel Emissions Laboratory in Ann Arbor, Michigan and the Office of Transportation and Air Quality in Washington D.C.

This investigation comes amid the current administration’s proposal of a 25 percent reduction in the EPA’s $8 billion budget, the elimination of almost 3,000 jobs, and the suspension of agency-backed programs and departments — including the environmental justice office. Automakers are also begging President Trump to rollback emissions standards after 2016 ended up being the first year since 2004 that U.S. light vehicles did not exceeded the industry-wide fuel economy targets. Regardless of intent, any appraisal of the EPA’s ability to act effectively will either serve to validate its existence or help rationalize its dismantlement.  Read More >

By on March 4, 2017

pumping gas

As we reported last week, automobile industry groups wasted no time lobbying newly minted Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt to reopen the book on the country’s fuel efficiency targets.

That volume had previously been slammed shut by Pruitt’s predecessor, putting an end to a midterm review and cementing the Obama-era light-duty vehicle target of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. Automakers would prefer not to be held to this rule, citing higher sticker prices caused by the addition of fuel-saving technology. Meanwhile, consumer and environmental groups have lobbied to keep the targets in place.

Well, according to a new report, the corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standard might not survive for long. Automakers, apparently, are about to see a wish come true. Read More >

By on March 1, 2017

oldsmobile-ciera-coupe

A bill for the assembly of two decades-old models — one from a defunct marque — will come due on April 1. And unlike much of the debts written off during General Motors’ bankruptcy, a major subsidiary now has to pay this chunk back.

The money, $220 million in all, was handed to GM Canada back in 1987 to save the Montreal-area Sainte-Thérèse Assembly plant. GM Canada used that bankroll to build the stunningly sexy Chevrolet Celebrity and Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera. It later cranked out the last Pontiac Firebirds and fourth-generation Chevrolet Camaros.

The thing about 30-year interest-free loans is that someone eventually comes to collect. Read More >

By on March 1, 2017

2017 Ram 1500 Outdoorsman Crew Cab 4x4 EcoDiesel

The fallout from the Environmental Protection Agency’s call-out of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles over excess EcoDiesel emissions has now landed in the company’s lap. Or, more specifically, in its mailbox.

In a filing to the Securities and Exchange Commission, FCA revealed it’s been hit with subpoenas from state and federal authorities, including the SEC, Reuters reports.

The need for answers comes after the EPA accused the automaker of failing to declare eight auxiliary emissions control devices installed on its 3.0-liter diesel V6, which the regulator claims emits illegally high levels of emissions. That engine found a home in roughly 104,000 Ram 1500s and Jeep Grand Cherokees.
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By on February 28, 2017

GM Adds Third Shift, 750 Jobs at Wentzville Assembly

In the international poker game of NAFTA re-negotiations, U.S. President Donald Trump should not assume his Mexican opponent will be playing with a losing hand, an auto industry expert says.

“I’m going to be surprised if we see a heck of a lot changed,” said John Holmes, researcher at the Automotive Policy Research Centre at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ont. “The industry now is so highly integrated.” Read More >

By on February 27, 2017

Volvo Autonomous Drive, Image: Volvo Cars

Last September, the Obama administration released a list of 15 guidelines to all automakers looking to develop and market a self-driving vehicle. Companies were asked to voluntarily follow the rules and report back to the federal government with useful information. It was a somewhat confusing exercise and raised a flurry of questions and concerns.

At the time, Obama wrote that the rules would provide “guidance that the manufacturers developing self-driving cars should follow to keep us safe.” Not only would the totally voluntary rules show the government that certain vehicles were safe for public roads, but it would show every interested citizen “how they’re doing it.”

That list is now in the hands of newly minted Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao. While the two administrations differ in many areas, Chao seems to be of a similar mind as Obama on the issue of self-driving cars. That doesn’t mean the guidelines won’t change. Read More >

By on February 24, 2017

pumping-gas fuel

Every automotive manufacturer currently selling cars within the United States has incessantly requested that the government dial back federal fuel economy standards ever since Donald Trump took office. Now, two advocacy groups — Consumers Union and the Consumer Federation of America — have sent a letter to Trump making a case to maintain Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards for the good of average Americans.

Automakers have claimed that higher efficiency targets will increase vehicle cost, making this a battle between two camps, each focused on U.S. wallets: MSRP and MPG. Read More >

By on February 24, 2017

tires

Remember when recycling was new and sexy and every 1980s sitcom included it as a subplot in at least one cringe-inducing episode? It was around the time that McDonald’s took away that convenient styrofoam container — you know, the one that stored a Big Mac on one side and a delicious pile of fries on the other.

Times change. Recycling is mundane, but it’s bigger than ever — and there’s no doubt about the environmental benefits. Unfortunately, there can also be unforeseen financial benefits for less-than-honest operators, especially if a program’s creator doesn’t keep watch on who’s minding the till.

If that creator is the government, things can get messy. Consider this cautionary tale of a massive program that went rotten so badly that it had to be scrapped. Read More >

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