Category: Government

By on June 22, 2017

us-capitol, public domain

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said on Wednesday there was no definitive timeline for completing NAFTA trade renegotiations. Discussions haven’t even begun between the United States, Canada, and Mexico but legislators and executives have already warned prolonged negotiations would likely be detrimental to their interests.

The automotive industry is mainly seeking a swift and unambiguous update that doesn’t rock the boat too severely. Every day there is no consensus on the trade agreement is another day it has to postpone large investments. Ideally, the U.S. wants the redrawn NAFTA to prioritize its workforce and industry, while the Trump administration aims to tax imports and force companies to do more business within its borders. But, with nothing finalized, many automakers are in a holding pattern. Volkswagen, for example, is putting off decisions on major U.S. investments until it becomes clearer what course NAFTA will take.  Read More >

By on June 20, 2017

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV, Image: GM

The State of Texas arouses visions of oil-rich tycoons with dysfunctional families, a fierce adherence to individual liberties, and vast quantities of trucks bearing the names High Country, Longhorn, Laramie, and King Ranch. While agriculture and industry play a major role in the state’s economy, not every vehicle in the Lone Star State’s fleet relies on gas or diesel.

With numerous major urban centres and a good economy, electric vehicles have made inroads in Texas over the past several years. Soon, a resurrected incentive could light a fire under EV sales. Well, except for one brand. Read More >

By on June 16, 2017

electrify-america-ev-charging-station, Electrify America

As part of its emissions cheating penance, Volkswagen AG previously agreed to support clean vehicles by injecting a juicy $2 billion into green initiatives in the United States. A whopping $800 million of that sum was reserved for California. On Thursday, state legislators pressed the automaker to spend electric charging infrastructure funds in low-income areas, passing a bill included in a budget package supported by Governor Jerry Brown.

The reasoning behind forcing VW to install more charging stations in disadvantaged communities is twofold. First, and most obviously, is the fact that poorer neighborhoods typically don’t receive the same level of infrastructure advancement as affluent or high traffic areas. In fact, they’re probably the last place the state would bother installing EV charging stations. Secondly, it’s a good way to keep this punishment from becoming a business opportunity.

Criticism arose when rival automakers realized Volkswagen’s charging network could become profitable and give it an early advantage in a competitive new market, especially if it could handpick the sites.  Read More >

By on June 16, 2017

autonomous hardware

A coterie of Republican officials believe individual states should be forbidden from governing themselves in regard to autonomous vehicles. Only in its commencement, a new U.S. House proposal claims states would not be within their rights to mandate the design or testing of self-driving cars.

If made law, the proposal would eliminate the need for automakers to acquire any pre-market approval from federal regulators. While that sounds like a free-for-all ripe for accountability issues, several states already have laissez-faire or highly supportive attitudes when it comes to autonomous vehicles, though others could become serious headaches for automakers hoping to swiftly get the technology on the road.

The 45-page legislative draft includes 14 bills and would designate the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration as the primary agency for regulating self-driving cars. It’s aggressively pro-business and, despite being penned by Republicans, has managed to achieve some bipartisan support.  Read More >

By on June 15, 2017

2016 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel HFE, Image: FCA

Ram and Jeep fans looking to get into a new 1500 or Grand Cherokee with the highest possible fuel economy picked the wrong year to embark on their search. While owners of 2014-2016 Ram and Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel models wonder whether their vehicles are polluting as the EPA claims, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ 2017 EcoDiesels languish in legal limbo.

At first, the Environmental Protection Agency held up the certification of 2017 models as it slogged through a backlog of extra-stringent testing prompted by Volkswagen’s diesel emissions scandal. Then, in January, FCA’s hopes of getting 2017 EcoDiesels to dealers hit a brick wall. The automaker was accused of violating environmental regulations after the EPA discovered unannounced emissions control devices on the models — raising concerns of a possible VW-type defeat device scheme.

Then came a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Department of Justice. So, when can diesel fans get their hands on a light-duty FCA oil burner? It could be a while. Read More >

By on June 13, 2017

2016 Ram 1500 Laramie Crew Cab 4x4 EcoDiesel

The university that sparked the emissions wildfire under Volkswagen has turned its testing equipment on Fiat Chrysler’s 3.0-liter EcoDiesel vehicles. The results aren’t pretty, especially for those with diminished lung capacity.

West Virginia University researchers who tested tailpipe emissions in real-world driving conditions claim the Ram 1500 and Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesels, singled out by the Environmental Protection Agency in January for excess pollution and unauthorized emission control devices, are indeed quite harmful to air quality. The university plans to detail its findings in a report to be published within weeks.

FCA, which proved unable to sidestep the EPA’s wrath or a lawsuit from the U.S. Department of Justice, has spoken out against the university’s methods. Read More >

By on June 7, 2017

tdiengine

It’s hard not to imagine Volkswagen as a tempestuous child, prone to mischief and currently on a “time out” after getting caught lobbing spitballs in class. The thought softens the reality of a massive corporate deception that polluted the air and led to tens of billions of dollars in penalties.

As it turns out, serving as Volkswagen’s nanny is exhaustive work. After the U.S. government ordered a monitor to keep an eye on the automaker as part of its wildly expensive settlement, the monitor feels the need to triple his staff. Read More >

By on June 2, 2017

2017 Chevrolet Bolt, Image: General Motors

Despite the protestations of many members of the green car crowd, dollars and cents do seem to play a major role in the motivation to purchase an electric or plug-in hybrid vehicle. Right now, EV proponents and domestic automakers are worried the U.S. won’t renew the green car tax credit — a segment-boosting incentive that shaves thousands off the price of a new electric vehicle.

Some would argue if green car buyers are really devoted to the planet’s health, purchase price wouldn’t be an issue (assuming the buyer’s bank balance is sufficient). Individuals being what they are, motivations and circumstances will vary. Still, no one can argue that a tax credit doesn’t sweeten the pot, just as dealer incentives on the hood of a truck help move sluggish inventory.

In Denmark, however, lawmakers have discovered that once-steady sales of EVs will slow to a trickle when green vehicle buyers are treated like regular car buyers.  Read More >

By on June 2, 2017

Donald Trump, public domain

On Thursday, President Trump made the decision to ditch the Paris climate accord and the entire internet seemingly spent the next twelve hours calling it a misstep. Either the president possesses a hidden wisdom on the subject that nobody else can seem to fathom, or he has severely misjudged the public’s position on environmental issues. Calling the accord “unfair at the highest level to the United States,” Trump suggested the deal was detrimental to the country’s manufacturing efforts and gave other nations a financial advantage.

However, the instant feedback from the automotive industry did not appear to share his viewpoint. With nearly 200 other countries still adhering to the nonbinding Paris agreement, it’s almost as if Trump had forgotten car companies operate on a global stage. Both General Motors and Ford Motor Company issued statements in opposition to Trump’s decision.

“We believe climate change is real, and remain deeply committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions in our vehicles and our facilities,” announced Ford. “Our commitment to sustainability is why we’re investing so heavily in electrification and adding 13 new electrified vehicles to our lineup.” Read More >

By on June 1, 2017

Volkswagen Atlas in front of Chattanooga sign, Image: VW

Volkswagen’s sole U.S. assembly plant was spared any fallout from the company’s wildly expensive diesel emissions scandal, but the upcoming North American Free Trade Agreement negotiations could see VW throttle back its future plans for the facility.

The Chattanooga plant, which builds the Passat and Atlas, has seen $900 million in investment over the last couple of years. More models are anticipated, and the automaker said it expects the plant to reach full production by 2020. However, recent threats of an import tax to be levied on German automakers has VW brass in wait-and-see mode before sending any new models or money to Tennessee. Read More >

By on May 31, 2017

Donald Trump, public domain

President Donald Trump has said he’ll be providing his thoughts on the Paris climate deal in the coming days, but media outlets are already suggesting his take on the issue will be to leave it. Sources are claiming the president’s mind is made up and, to the surprise of no one, odds are good he will withdraw the U.S. from the deal.

Trump has already made it his mission to overturn as many Obama-related policies as possible and seems unconcerned with environmental issues that might stand in the way of potential manufacturing opportunities. Since taking office, Trump has been pushing regulators to rethink the United States’ auto emission guidelines, undoing one of the previous administration’s final acts in office.

Pulling out of the Paris accord would fulfill a campaign promise and negate the need for the U.S. to adhere to rigid emission standards — at the expense of further alienating the president from Europe’s leadership.   Read More >

By on May 30, 2017

2016_nissan_leaf_01

The Nissan Leaf, which burst onto the scene in late 2010 as one of the first mass-market electric vehicles, hasn’t changed much since its introduction. Until very recently, driving range sat well below the three-figure mark. And as its technological edge dulled, the Leaf gained a reputation as one of the fastest-depreciating vehicles on the market.

If you find yourself living in a certain jurisdiction, Nissan and a mid-level government has now made a purchase of a used Leaf far more attractive than it once was. Message to the U.S. and the rest of Canada: Quebec wants your old Leafs. Read More >

By on May 26, 2017

BMW X5 Spartanburg Assembly - Image: BMW“The Germans are bad, very bad. Look at the millions of cars that they sell in the U.S.
Terrible. We’re going to stop that.” – President Donald Trump

Through the first four months of 2017, Germany-based automakers and their respective subsidiary brands have sold 413,000 new vehicles in the United States.

At a minimum, 28 percent of those vehicles were built in the United States at assembly plants in Alabama, Tennessee, and South Carolina. According to Automotive News, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Volkswagen combined to produce 281,519 vehicles, the bulk of which were destined for export.

But to avoid even a faint whiff of statistical manipulation, TTAC has compiled the complete U.S. sales and production picture for each of these manufacturers. We present them to you with no limited commentary. Read More >

By on May 23, 2017

lansing assemblyl

As the clock counts down to the beginning of talks aimed at revamping the North American Free Trade Agreement, automakers in Mexico, the U.S. and Canada know one thing they don’t want to see changed — rules of origin.

Auto manufacturers must abide by minimum regional (NAFTA-wide) content rules in order for vehicles to remain free from import tariffs. President Trump’s proposed reforms aim to benefit U.S. companies, but could lead to greater costs heaped onto automakers — something no profit-minded company desires.

Naturally, automakers wants their feelings known well before the three countries get down to brass tacks. Read More >

By on May 23, 2017

2015 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel HFE, Image: FCA

The U.S. Department of Justice has filed a civil lawsuit against Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, alleging the automaker violated the Clean Air Act.

At the root of the lawsuit is roughly 104,000 Ram 1500 and Jeep Grand Cherokee vehicles equipped with the 3.0-liter diesel V6, sold between 2014 and 2016. Earlier this year, the Environmental Protection Agency accused FCA of failing to disclose eight auxiliary emissions control devices during the certification process. The vehicle’s software allows for higher-than-permitted emissions at certain times.

Despite FCA’s protests — as well as attempts to head off a potential multi-billion-dollar fine — the parallels between this case and Volkswagen’s emissions saga are growing by the day. Read More >

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