The Truth About Cars » Government http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Sat, 23 May 2015 15:11:46 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.2 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars » Government http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/category/news-blog/government-news-blog/ Boston To Host IndyCar Event Beginning 2016 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/boston-to-host-indycar-event-beginning-2016/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/boston-to-host-indycar-event-beginning-2016/#comments Fri, 22 May 2015 16:00:51 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1073018 Any plans for Labor Day Weekend next year? If you’re in Boston, those plans could include an IndyCar event on its streets. The Grand Prix of Boston will be held on an 11-turn 2.25-mile temporary street circuit around the Boston Convention Center, Boston.com reports. The agreement made between city officials and IndyCar to hold the […]

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Boston Circa May 2015

Any plans for Labor Day Weekend next year? If you’re in Boston, those plans could include an IndyCar event on its streets.

The Grand Prix of Boston will be held on an 11-turn 2.25-mile temporary street circuit around the Boston Convention Center, Boston.com reports. The agreement made between city officials and IndyCar to hold the competition is set to last until 2020, with the first event to take place September 5 and 6 of 2016.

The course is designed to be “minimally invasive” to its surroundings, with construction to take place between 18 and 21 days in overnight shifts from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. Safety features include four-foot concrete barriers and 10-foot fencing with a four-foot overhang.

Price of admission and sale dates are yet to be announced, and while cost estimates are too early to determine according to city spokeswoman Kate Norton, the event will be privately funded.

[Source: Trenten Kelley/Flickr/CC BY-ND 2.0]

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NHTSA Will Partially Continue GM Safety Oversight http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/nhtsa-will-partially-continue-gm-safety-oversight/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/nhtsa-will-partially-continue-gm-safety-oversight/#comments Thu, 21 May 2015 19:53:57 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1072386 Earlier this month, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) was undecided whether it would require GM to continue monthly safety issue disclosure meetings. However, in a letter obtained by The Detroit News, the NHTSA has decided to extend parts of the agreement for another year. GM agreed to the safety disclosure meetings along with a $35 million […]

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General Motors Renaissance Center HQ

Earlier this month, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) was undecided whether it would require GM to continue monthly safety issue disclosure meetings. However, in a letter obtained by The Detroit News, the NHTSA has decided to extend parts of the agreement for another year.

GM agreed to the safety disclosure meetings along with a $35 million civil penalty as part of the ignition switch saga in May 2014. The letter – dated May 14th, 2015 – says NHTSA is opting to extend some requirements from the agreement. NHTSA can extend the agreement up to May 2017.

The meetings have proven “to be a productive and effective tool to proactively and expeditiously address potential safety-related defects. I understand that GM shares that sentiment and has found the process to be a positive one in facilitating communication between GM and NHTSA,” stated NHTSA lawyer Timothy H. Goodman.

Jim Cain, GM spokesperson, told The Detroit News:

We have used our monthly meetings with NHTSA to foster a relationship that’s candid, transparent and totally focused on the safety of our customers. We’ve come a long way and we fully intend to build on this progress.

With the spotlight again on the NHTSA thanks to defective Takata airbag inflators, the move to extend GM oversight may also be political, showing the government agency’s resolve in handling wide-scale safety matters.

Why the extension wasn’t made public when the letter was sent is unknown at this time.

[Source: The Detroit News]

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Oregon First In Nation To Implement Per-Mile Road Tax Program http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/oregon-first-in-nation-to-implement-per-mile-road-tax-program/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/oregon-first-in-nation-to-implement-per-mile-road-tax-program/#comments Thu, 21 May 2015 18:00:48 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1072250 This July, Oregon will be the first to implement a program taxing motorists by miles driven instead of collecting at the pump. Up to 5,000 cars and light-duty commercial vehicles can volunteer for the program — dubbed OReGO — each of whom will then be charged 1.5 cents per mile, USA Today reports. The information […]

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Oregon Welcome Sign Circa October 2010

This July, Oregon will be the first to implement a program taxing motorists by miles driven instead of collecting at the pump.

Up to 5,000 cars and light-duty commercial vehicles can volunteer for the program — dubbed OReGO — each of whom will then be charged 1.5 cents per mile, USA Today reports. The information will be tracked via a device provided by the Oregon Department of Transportation/Sanef, Verizon Telematics, or Azuga, depending on the circumstances and needs of each volunteer.

Those whose vehicles fuel up at the pump will receive a tax credit if fuel use exceeds miles driven, while EV owners will pay the road-use tax without receiving the fuel tax credit. OReGO has a quota in place for less-efficient vehicles, limiting acceptance to 1,500 volunteers whose vehicles get less than 17 mpg, and 1,500 for those with vehicles between 17 mpg and 22 mpg.

The ultimate goal of programs like ODOT’s OReGO is to make up in infrastructure maintenance and repair funding what is being lost by continuously low fuel taxes and improving fleet fuel economy. Gas taxes provide Oregon with under half of the state’s highway fund, the rest coming from the Highway Trust Fund.

The $8.4-million program has no expiration date at this time, with permanence left in the hands of the Oregon legislature. Concerns over privacy and an alleged favoring of conventional vehicles over EVs and hybrids regarding tax credits have come up, the former remedied through data protections such as offering devices without GPS, and record destruction after 30 days with limits on the data’s use for devices with GPS. Volunteers can also opt-out of the program at any time, and can receive refunds for miles driven on private property and outside Oregon.

OReGO’s first day of implementation is July 1.

[Photo credit: Oregon Department of Transportation/Flickr/CC BY 2.0]

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Canada A Low Priority In Takata Airbag Recalls http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/canada-a-low-priority-in-takata-airbag-recalls/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/canada-a-low-priority-in-takata-airbag-recalls/#comments Thu, 21 May 2015 17:00:00 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1072154 As nearly 34 million vehicles in the United States go under recall over Takata’s airbag issues, Canada remains a low priority due to cooler climes. Numerous injuries and six deaths involving the supplier’s airbags occurred in warmer, humid climates, affecting the ammonium nitrate composition — used to aid in detonation during airbag deployment — to […]

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Canadian Tire Store

As nearly 34 million vehicles in the United States go under recall over Takata’s airbag issues, Canada remains a low priority due to cooler climes.

Numerous injuries and six deaths involving the supplier’s airbags occurred in warmer, humid climates, affecting the ammonium nitrate composition — used to aid in detonation during airbag deployment — to catastrophic effect, USA Today reports.

Most of the recalls prior to Tuesday’s nationwide action focused on a handful of states whose climate met the conditions needed for failure. However, the new recall places a considerable strain on Takata’s ability to produce replacement units — 3.8 million thus far — which it hopes to increase to 1 million per month by September. Other suppliers are helping to fill-in wherever possible, though the campaign could take years to complete, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration administrator Mark Rosekind.

Thus, Canada is left out in the cold to wait as supply constraints and greater urgency for affected consumers in warmer climes take precedence. Meanwhile, the Canadian subsidiaries of FCA, Ford, BMW, Nissan and Mazda have issued a handful of recalls for a small number of affected vehicles, said recalls being issued closer to repair time per Transport Canada’s requirements; U.S. legislation requires recalls to be issued as soon as a safety problem comes up.

Consumer apathy will likely play a role in bringing recalled vehicles into the repair shop. Autotrader found 56 percent of those made aware of a recall action bring in their vehicles every time, while 61 percent try to keep up with recall news, and 35 percent put in the research when shopping for a vehicle.

[Photo credit: Whpq/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0]

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California Hit By Rising Fuel Prices Due To Supply Issues http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/california-hit-by-rising-fuel-prices-due-to-supply-issues/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/california-hit-by-rising-fuel-prices-due-to-supply-issues/#comments Wed, 20 May 2015 18:00:37 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1071650 While most of the United States enjoys fuel prices under $3 per gallon, the West Coast can’t say the same, especially California. The average fuel price in the U.S. is currently $2.772/gal. per the AAA, Bloomberg reports, but a combination of factors have pushed California’s average to $3.809. The first involves a series of refinery […]

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Chevron Fuel Prices In Oceanside, California Circa March 2011

While most of the United States enjoys fuel prices under $3 per gallon, the West Coast can’t say the same, especially California.

The average fuel price in the U.S. is currently $2.772/gal. per the AAA, Bloomberg reports, but a combination of factors have pushed California’s average to $3.809.

The first involves a series of refinery shutdowns up and down the West Coast, including an explosion at an Exxon refinery in Torrance, Calif., and a recent fire at a U.S. Oil and Refining facility in Tacoma, Wash. Other units are closed for repairs.

The second is the state’s pipeline network. The one-way system delivers gasoline to Arizona and Nevada, but is otherwise cut-off from other pipeline networks in the U.S. Thus, the only way for the state to receive its fuel supply when the chips are down — a supply specially made for the state’s own set of emission standards — is by tanker deliveries from Asia and Europe.

At present, Los Angeles motorists are feeling the most pain at the pump, paying nearly $4/gal. AAA spokesman Michael Green says prices in the city are rising faster “than anywhere else in the country,” and will remain at the top until late summer.

The regional volatility issues do offer a possible silver lining: The U.S. government is studying how sudden jumps in prices could affect the nation’s economy, and is considering whether to build a fuel reserve for the West Coast in case of major supply disruptions.

[Photo credit: Joe Wolf/Flickr/CC BY-ND 2.0]

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Kitsap Transit Eyeing Liquor Advertising To Improve Bottom Line http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/kitsap-transit-eyeing-liquor-advertising-to-improve-bottom-line/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/kitsap-transit-eyeing-liquor-advertising-to-improve-bottom-line/#comments Tue, 19 May 2015 20:00:22 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1070978 Faced with a potential budget shortfall in the coming years, Kitsap Co., Wash.-based Kitsap Transit is eyeing liquor adverts to help with the bottom line. The move to place said adverts on its fleet came as a suggestion from the authority’s advertising partner, Titan Outdoor, KOMO-TV reports. The ad agency takes half of all revenue […]

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Kitsap_Transit_2004_Gillig_Low_Floor_774-a

Faced with a potential budget shortfall in the coming years, Kitsap Co., Wash.-based Kitsap Transit is eyeing liquor adverts to help with the bottom line.

The move to place said adverts on its fleet came as a suggestion from the authority’s advertising partner, Titan Outdoor, KOMO-TV reports. The ad agency takes half of all revenue made on ad sales related to Kitsap Transit, and is also in charge of the authority’s mobile ad program.

Executive Director John Clauson admits it would be hard to estimate how much additional revenue adding liquor advertising to the buses — adverts are only part of its budget, alongside local taxes and fare collection — but adds if doing so “adds an extra $20,000 a year, it’s tough to just walk away from it and say no.”

While the proposal would mandate “tasteful” advertising of liquor products and include responsible-drinking disclaimers, critics warn said adverts could encourage teenagers to drink. However, most riders are welcome to the idea, with reasons ranging from keeping fares low as a result of the increase in revenue, to freedom of speech for all advertisers.

The decision to go forward with the proposal may come as soon as the authority’s next board meeting June 2. If approved, Kitsap Transit would be the first transit authority in Washington state to allow liquor advertising on its fleet.

[Photo credit: Zargoman/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0]

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Takata Expands US Airbag Recall Nationwide, Covering 34M Units http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/takata-expands-us-airbag-recall-nationwide-covering-34m-units/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/takata-expands-us-airbag-recall-nationwide-covering-34m-units/#comments Tue, 19 May 2015 19:06:10 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1071026 The U.S. Department of Transportation announced Tuesday Takata would expand its airbag recall to cover 33.8 million units in the United States. The expanded recall is now one of the largest recalls in U.S. history, USA Today reports. Additionally, the supplier is under a consent order by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to cooperate […]

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Takata TTAC Style

The U.S. Department of Transportation announced Tuesday Takata would expand its airbag recall to cover 33.8 million units in the United States.

The expanded recall is now one of the largest recalls in U.S. history, USA Today reports. Additionally, the supplier is under a consent order by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to cooperate with the agency in its investigation into the recall. The NHTSA also declared it would begin the process to sort and organize the replacement schedule of the defective airbags.

The expansion comes after Takata issued a regional recall last summer affecting units in vehicles located in humid locales in the U.S. The units were prone to catastrophic failure upon detonation, scattering shrapnel into the cabin and injuring or killing the occupants inside. Six fatalities have been linked thus far, with five occurring in the U.S.

Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx praised the agreement made between the supplier and his department, declaring it “a major step forward for public safety.” NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind agreed with the assessment, adding all parties involved had more work ahead of them to remedy the issue as quickly as possible.

[Photo credit: Takata]

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Direct Sales, Ride-Hailing Bills Among Those DOA In Texas House http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/direct-sales-ride-hailing-bills-among-those-doa-in-texas-house/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/direct-sales-ride-hailing-bills-among-those-doa-in-texas-house/#comments Tue, 19 May 2015 18:00:22 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1070898 Tesla and Uber are among those whose efforts were for nothing as a crucial deadline to win approval on the Texas House floor passed last week. The deadline was the last chance for House bills to win initial approval from the entire chamber, The Star-Telegram reports. Though said bills could be added onto other bills […]

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Uber Texas BBQ Pedicab

Tesla and Uber are among those whose efforts were for nothing as a crucial deadline to win approval on the Texas House floor passed last week.

The deadline was the last chance for House bills to win initial approval from the entire chamber, The Star-Telegram reports. Though said bills could be added onto other bills through the end of the legislative session June 1, “the funnel is only so large” to commit the necessary action, according to House Republican Caucus chair Rep. Tan Parker of Flower Mound.

One of the bills shut out by the deadline would have granted transportation network companies like Lyft and Uber statewide licenses to operate while stripping individual cities of their right to regulate their services. House Bill 2440, sponsored by Rep. Chris Paddie of Marshall, failed to receive a floor vote due to issues surrounding safety, wheelchair-access, and insurance.

Meanwhile, Tesla’s efforts to overturn the state’s ban on direct sales were thwarted for a second time since 2013. House Bill 1653 and Senate Bill 639 would have allowed automakers who’ve never sold their wares through a franchise dealership network to open and operated up to 12 stores in Texas. Neither bill drew a committee vote on their respective floors, with the blame directed at Tesla itself, according to Rep. Senfronia Thompson of Houston:

I can appreciate Tesla wanting to sell cars, but I think it would have been wiser if Mr. Tesla had sat down with the car dealers first.

[Photo credit: William Beutler/Flickr/CC BY 2.0]

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Ruling Frees General Motors Of $450M Obligation To UAW http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/ruling-frees-general-motors-of-450m-obligation-to-uaw/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/ruling-frees-general-motors-of-450m-obligation-to-uaw/#comments Fri, 15 May 2015 16:00:57 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1069154 The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Thursday General Motors will not owe $450 million to the UAW for funding health care among Delphi retirees. The ruling affects a stipulation in the contract signed by “Old GM,” Delphi and the union in 2007, where the automaker would make a one-time contribution of $450 million, […]

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Delphi Audi Circa March 2015

The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Thursday General Motors will not owe $450 million to the UAW for funding health care among Delphi retirees.

The ruling affects a stipulation in the contract signed by “Old GM,” Delphi and the union in 2007, where the automaker would make a one-time contribution of $450 million, Detroit Free Press reports. Said stipulation remained in a revised 2008 agreement, but would not be included in a new contract when GM emerged from bankruptcy in 2009.

However, the UAW sought to hold GM to its obligation, suing the company in April of 2010 after the “new” version of the company refused to pay the contribution.

While a spokesman for the automaker said it was “pleased with the outcome of the case,” the union remains silent as to whether it will appeal the ruling before the U.S. Supreme Court.

[Photo credit: Delphi/Facebook]

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Phoenix Suburb Installing License Plate Readers To Thwart Rare Burglary Activity http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/phoenix-suburb-installing-license-plate-readers-to-thwart-rare-burglary-activity/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/phoenix-suburb-installing-license-plate-readers-to-thwart-rare-burglary-activity/#comments Thu, 14 May 2015 20:00:38 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1068658 Police in Paradise Valley, Arizona are planning to install 15 license plate readers to aid in thwarting burglaries in the Phoenix suburb. The LPRs are the result of an anonymous donation of $234,000 to Paradise Valley Police Department, with 11 of the devices set to be installed in fake cactus plants, Ars Technica reports. The […]

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Paradise Valley Arizona Police

Police in Paradise Valley, Arizona are planning to install 15 license plate readers to aid in thwarting burglaries in the Phoenix suburb.

The LPRs are the result of an anonymous donation of $234,000 to Paradise Valley Police Department, with 11 of the devices set to be installed in fake cactus plants, Ars Technica reports. The goal is to continue to the decline in burglaries, falling from a peak of 195 in 2011, to a current low of 55 in 2014.

While privacy concerns are usually the norm surrounding LPRs, Paradise Valley residents are more concerned about aesthetics. Town manager Kevin Burke explains:

Everything in Paradise Valley is about the aesthetics. We’ll spend tens of thousands to cover up an electric box. We’ll spend hundreds of thousands to camouflage an electric substation. Our residents have spent hundreds of thousands or millions to bury overhead cables. Ugly posts are things that we do not want. But we do want people to know that these technologies are there. Probably we’ll end up putting a sign on it–half of the deterrent is knowing that people are there.

Regarding privacy, Burke says LPR data will be kept for six months, and will only be used to match plates with those on a hot list in case of criminal activity. However, parts of the datasets will be omitted from public view, while individual records won’t be released due to the city’s concerns about involvement in domestic disputes.

Further, the six-page LPR data policy lacks information on what safeguards, if any, are in place to prevent abuse of the data by officials, or how the data would be logged and audited. Burke says he’ll know if the LPRs are doing their job by clearance rates and reductions linked to burglaries.

[Photo credit: Paradise Valley PD/Facebook]

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Colorado Offers Tax Credits On Used EVs, PHEVs http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/colorado-offers-tax-credits-on-used-evs-phevs/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/colorado-offers-tax-credits-on-used-evs-phevs/#comments Wed, 13 May 2015 18:00:12 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1067546 Shopping for a used PHEV or EV in Colorado? You still may be able to take a tax credit, thanks to the state’s structuring of its EV purchase tax credit. The credit — up to $6,000 — can be applied to used PHEV or EV purchases so long as it wasn’t claimed already via VIN […]

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Tesla Roadster In Colorado Showroom Circa August 2011

Shopping for a used PHEV or EV in Colorado? You still may be able to take a tax credit, thanks to the state’s structuring of its EV purchase tax credit.

The credit — up to $6,000 — can be applied to used PHEV or EV purchases so long as it wasn’t claimed already via VIN registration, Green Car Reports says. Though most Colorado-based offerings likely already have the credit cashed-in, out-of-state imports are the biggest beneficiaries.

Per an anonymous source, a Colorado resident could purchase a vehicle registered out-of-state for at least three years after originally leaving the lot, then bring the car back home to register its VIN as used in Colorado, legally claiming the credit on their next tax return in so doing.

According to the publication, the used PHEV/EV credit is the only one of its type in the United States, as the focus of tax incentives is on new vehicles.

[Photo credit: Eric Lumsden/Flickr/CC BY-ND 2.0]

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Coal Rolling Banned In New Jersey http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/coal-rolling-banned-new-jersey/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/coal-rolling-banned-new-jersey/#comments Tue, 12 May 2015 18:00:21 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1066506 Dudebros in their diesel brodozers will need to take their coal rolling outside of New Jersey, as the state has banned the practice. Governor Chris Christie signed the legislation — S2418 — earlier this month, according to NJ.com. S2148 outlaws “retrofitting any diesel-powered vehicle with any device, smoke stack, or other equipment which enhances the […]

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Mad Max Dudebro Coal Roller At AMERICA Walmart Circa November 2010

Dudebros in their diesel brodozers will need to take their coal rolling outside of New Jersey, as the state has banned the practice.

Governor Chris Christie signed the legislation — S2418 — earlier this month, according to NJ.com. S2148 outlaws “retrofitting any diesel-powered vehicle with any device, smoke stack, or other equipment which enhances the vehicle’s capacity to emit soot, smoke, or other particulate emissions.”

The law’s language is echoed elsewhere under current federal and state statutes, but Assemblyman Tim Eustace of Bergen, N.J. says the new law is there to ensure the aforementioned statutes are actually enforced:

It’s to actually make sure we enforce the law. We have laws that law fallow, I think, in some circumstances. This doesn’t come off as very important unless you’ve been coal-rolled.

As for what awaits someone more than willing to unleash black smoke upon their fellow driver in the Garden State, the New Jersey State Department of Environmental Regulations will have the power to establish fines meant to discourage coal rolling.

[Photo credit: Mark Spearman/Flickr/CC BY-ND 2.0]

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Tesla Gains Renewed Support From FTC For Direct Sales Model http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/tesla-gains-renewed-support-ftc-direct-sales-model/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/tesla-gains-renewed-support-ftc-direct-sales-model/#comments Tue, 12 May 2015 17:00:25 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1066378 In its battles for the right to sell its wares directly to consumers, Tesla has found a valuable ally in the Federal Trade Commission. Though the FTC has supported Tesla in the past, the agency recently reemphasized its pro-direct sales stance via a post regarding a new proposal working through the Michigan Legislature allowing so-called […]

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Tesla Showroom In California Circa August 2014

In its battles for the right to sell its wares directly to consumers, Tesla has found a valuable ally in the Federal Trade Commission.

Though the FTC has supported Tesla in the past, the agency recently reemphasized its pro-direct sales stance via a post regarding a new proposal working through the Michigan Legislature allowing so-called “autocycles” – i.e., Elio Motors’ wares – to be directly sold to the public, TechCrunch reports.

The autocycle bill – SB 268 – comes just months after Michigan passed legislation to clarify its position on automakers directly selling to the public, which the state has said was always verboten. The clarification, however, left the door open for further conversation on the matter of direct sales, such as the one proposed by SB 268.

The FTC said the final decision involving the business model would remain in the domain of each individual state’s regulators, though it would prefer policymakers to leave said decisions on such business models to both automakers and their consumers “absent some legitimate public purpose” in prohibiting certain selling methods.

[Photo credit: Ming-yen Hsu/Flickr/CC BY-ND 2.0]

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Autonomous Vehicles Scrutinized Over Liability Amid ‘Minor’ Incidents http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/autonomous-vehicles-scrutinized-liability-amid-minor-incidents/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/autonomous-vehicles-scrutinized-liability-amid-minor-incidents/#comments Mon, 11 May 2015 17:00:17 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1065818 Autonomous vehicles may need the Three Laws of Robotics to function in the future, while getting a handle on accident prevention remains a present concern. Since September of last year, four of the 48 autonomous vehicles permitted to roam freely in California have found themselves involved in accidents, The Detroit News reports. Two of the […]

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World Premiere Freightliner Inspiration Truck

Autonomous vehicles may need the Three Laws of Robotics to function in the future, while getting a handle on accident prevention remains a present concern.

Since September of last year, four of the 48 autonomous vehicles permitted to roam freely in California have found themselves involved in accidents, The Detroit News reports. Two of the accidents happened while the cars drove themselves, while the other pair occurred while their human occupant was behind the wheel.

The vehicles in question belonged to Google and Delphi, with the former linked to three of the four accidents. Both companies claimed they were not at fault, and that the accidents were minor in scope. An employee with the California Department of Motor Vehicles confirmed two of the accidents happened in autonomous mode at speeds below 10 mph, but no other information could be given due to confidentiality laws regarding collision reports.

The accidents come as autonomous vehicles are under ongoing scrutiny over safety and responsibility for whatever does happen in a given accident. Down the road, such a vehicle – which may have no means to override an action in the future – may decide to sacrifice the lives of its occupants in order to protect everyone else, a scenario among others likely to hold back the technology overall, according to BMW sales boss Ian Robertson:

The technology will be held back by the ultimate moral question on who’s responsible. An algorithm will make a decision which might not be acceptable from a cultural or societal point of view.

The potential solution may place full responsibility upon the occupant/driver, following an amendment to the United Nations’ Vienna Convention on Road Traffic made last year allowing assisted driving so long as “such systems can be overridden or switched off by the driver.” The 1968 convention previously banned autonomous vehicles outright when it came into force 38 years ago, declaring all drivers to maintain control of their vehicles at all times.

[Photo credit: Freightliner]

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GAO: Current Natural Gas Standards Cost Taxpayers Millions http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/gao-current-natural-gas-standards-cost-taxpayers-millions/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/gao-current-natural-gas-standards-cost-taxpayers-millions/#comments Thu, 07 May 2015 19:00:42 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1063714 A new report by the Government Accountability Office says the Bureau of Land Management has yet to revise standards over natural gas, costing taxpayers. The report notes the GAO had been urging the BLM — which oversees oil and gas development on federal and Indian lands — to update the standards in regards to venting […]

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Natural Gas Flaring In Arnegard, North Dakota Circa July 2013

A new report by the Government Accountability Office says the Bureau of Land Management has yet to revise standards over natural gas, costing taxpayers.

The report notes the GAO had been urging the BLM — which oversees oil and gas development on federal and Indian lands — to update the standards in regards to venting and flaring natural gas since 2010, Autoblog says. The group found by doing so, up to 40 percent of the resource could be captured cheaply, then sold on the market.

However, the bureau is just now in the early process of updating those standards, leaving the taxpayers at “high-risk” for fraud and waste under its current resource management plan. Currently, this means the government is losing around $23 million on annual royalty payments, with more millions disappearing into the air since oil and gas production in the United States began booming in recent years.

Other issues in BLM’s management noted in the GAO report include failing to meet its annual goals for high-risk wells, and the venting of methane into the environment in an EPA-estimated amount equal to 3.1 million cars removed from the road or the closure of four coal-powered plants if the greenhouse gas had been captured instead.

In response, the bureau and its parent department, the U.S. Department of the Interior, agreed with the GAO’s findings, stating funding was the main reason for not being able to remedy the issues reported. The department said it was working to update the standards, adding that President Barack Obama was working on collecting fees from oil and gas companies in order to have the budget to inspect the high-risk wells.

[Photo credit: Tim Evanson/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0]

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NHTSA: No Decision Yet On Extending General Motors’ Oversight Decree http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/nhtsa-no-decision-yet-extending-general-motors-oversight-decree/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/nhtsa-no-decision-yet-extending-general-motors-oversight-decree/#comments Wed, 06 May 2015 17:00:47 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1062842 A year ago, General Motors was placed under government oversight in the wake of its recall crisis. Whether the NHTSA continues babysitting the automaker is yet to be determined. The oversight consent decree signed between GM and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration resulted in a record $35-million fine for the former’s role in the February […]

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2015 Cadillac ATS Near Capitol Hill Circa January 2015

A year ago, General Motors was placed under government oversight in the wake of its recall crisis. Whether the NHTSA continues babysitting the automaker is yet to be determined.

The oversight consent decree signed between GM and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration resulted in a record $35-million fine for the former’s role in the February 2014 ignition switch recall, as well as requiring the automaker to disclose any potential and ongoing problems, and to meet with the agency monthly about safety issues, The Detroit News reports. The decree can also be extended for up to two years, a decision agency head Mark Rosekind is discussing at present.

Rosekind praised the automaker’s willingness to be forthcoming about safety issues and improvements during those meetings, while GM spokesman Jim Cain had this to say about cooperating with the government:

We have fully complied with the terms of the consent order. More importantly, we have used our monthly meetings with NHTSA to foster a relationship that’s candid, transparent and totally focused on the safety of our customers. We’ve come a long way and we fully intend to build on this progress.

No word was given as of this writing on when a decision to extend or rescind the decree would occur.

[Photo credit: General Motors]

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Biggest Supplier of U.S. Foreign Oil Elects Democratic Socialist Government http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/biggest-supplier-u-s-foreign-oil-elects-democratic-socialist-government/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/biggest-supplier-u-s-foreign-oil-elects-democratic-socialist-government/#comments Wed, 06 May 2015 13:27:12 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1062762 Last night, it became official: Alberta, the largest producer of oil in Canada, ended the 40 year reign of the Progressive Conservatives in favor of the New Democratic Party (NDP), a democratic socialist party. This could mean big changes in the energy sector, from oil patch to gas pump. The Alberta NDP, under the leadership of […]

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Rachel Notley, Alberta NDP Leader

Last night, it became official: Alberta, the largest producer of oil in Canada, ended the 40 year reign of the Progressive Conservatives in favor of the New Democratic Party (NDP), a democratic socialist party.

This could mean big changes in the energy sector, from oil patch to gas pump.

The Alberta NDP, under the leadership of new premier Rachel Notley, campaigned on a promise to review energy royalties. With the previous government known for charging royalties far below average, it’s likely a review will find an increase favorable for Albertans. And, as is the case, customers will be footing the bill and the energy lobby has already come out swinging.

From CBC:

Altacorp Capital, a Calgary investment bank that is partly owned by the provincial government, expressed a similar view in a report earlier this week, before the election.

The report pointed out that energy investors, especially those based outside of Canada, have lots of options when it comes to investing.

“Unfortunately, with Alberta possibly heading for a third royalty change in eight years now, we believe global investors will add a degree of caution with the province’s ability to maintain a stable investable environment.”

Other platform promises including raising corporate income tax rates from 10 to 12 percent, increasing the minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2018, more tax brackets and higher taxes for making over $125,000 per year, and a ban on corporate and union political donations.

Canada is the largest outside supplier of petroleum to the United States at 3.39 million barrels per day, 37 percent of gross imports, more than all OPEC countries combined in 2014.

[Image source: Rachel Notley Facebook Page]

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Further Renault-Nissan Integration Blocked By French Government In Power Play http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/renault-nissan-integration-blocked-french-government-power-play/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/renault-nissan-integration-blocked-french-government-power-play/#comments Fri, 01 May 2015 17:00:49 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1058482 An attempt to bring further integration within Renault-Nissan resulted in the French government tightening its hold on Renault against CEO Carlos Ghosn. The move by the government Thursday to block the integration effort leaves Ghosn with the choice to either negotiate or fight for integration, Reuters reports. The CEO has long desired to give Nissan […]

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Carlos Ghosn Circa April 2013

An attempt to bring further integration within Renault-Nissan resulted in the French government tightening its hold on Renault against CEO Carlos Ghosn.

The move by the government Thursday to block the integration effort leaves Ghosn with the choice to either negotiate or fight for integration, Reuters reports. The CEO has long desired to give Nissan more status in the alliance to match its sales and profit, while the administration of French president François Hollande wants to increase its influence upon the French companies it owns, including Renault.

Using a rule allowing the government to double its voting rights on its holdings over two years of age — one companies like Renault-Nissan can choose to opt-out to following — Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron announced the government made a purchase of €1.2 billion ($1.34 billion USD) in Renault shares, increasing its stake from 15 percent to 19.7 percent in order to block the opt-out vote. Just 60.5 percent of shareholders supported the opt-out vote, but a two-thirds majority was needed to make it stick.

Though Macron claimed the move wasn’t a power grab, government officials and company insiders state the move occurred due to the French government’s fears Renault would become more like Nissan, which now accounts for two-thirds of combined sales and a bigger share of the profit shared by the alliance.

With the opt-out vote blocked, the CEO may counter the French government by restoring Nissan’s voting rights via buying back Renault’s shares in the Japanese automaker and/or creating new shares with a capital increase.

Before pulling the trigger on restoration, though, Ghosn may try negotiating for integration with Nissan taking the helm. The government may not be so interested, however; Macron stated that he saw no reason for Nissan to restore its voting rights, and would hold the line “to the end.”

[Photo credit: Norsk Elbilforening/Flickr/CC BY 2.0]

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US Senate Approves Industry Whistleblower Bill http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/us-senate-approves-industry-whistleblower-bill/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/us-senate-approves-industry-whistleblower-bill/#comments Wed, 29 Apr 2015 19:00:39 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1056442 Tuesday, the U.S. Senate approved a whistleblower bill that would incentivize those in the auto industry to blow the whistle on potential safety problems. The Motor Vehicle Safety Whistleblower Act would give the U.S. Secretary of Transportation the discretion to award whistleblowers up to 30 percent of the total monetary penalties levied by the transportation […]

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US Senate Wing of the Capitol

Tuesday, the U.S. Senate approved a whistleblower bill that would incentivize those in the auto industry to blow the whistle on potential safety problems.

The Motor Vehicle Safety Whistleblower Act would give the U.S. Secretary of Transportation the discretion to award whistleblowers up to 30 percent of the total monetary penalties levied by the transportation or justice departments that total a minimum of $1 million, The Detroit News reports.

The bill would cover all employees and contractors working at automakers, suppliers or dealerships, and take into account “original information” on product defects and other safety issues the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration didn’t know about previously, the information’s significance, and whether the whistleblower did everything they could to let the employer know prior to blowing the whistle.

Senate Commerce Committee chairman John Thune of South Dakota and panelist Bill Nelson of Florida both praised the Senate’s decision to pass the whistleblower bill by unanimous vote, noting that it would reward those in the industry for presenting safety issues before anyone is killed or injured as a result of industry inaction. The bill now goes on to the House, where House Energy and Commerce Committee chairman Fred Upton of Michigan repeatedly stated that auto safety-related bills have yet to be addressed this year.

[Photo credit: Ron Cogswell/Flickr/CC BY 2.0]

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Automakers, NHTSA Meet To Discuss Increasing Recall Completion Rates http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/automakers-nhtsa-meet-discuss-increasing-recall-completion-rates/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/automakers-nhtsa-meet-discuss-increasing-recall-completion-rates/#comments Wed, 29 Apr 2015 18:00:02 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1056394 Despite the numerous recalls over the past year, recall completion rates are not at 100 percent. The NHTSA and automakers hope to change this. The agency met with representatives of General Motors, Honda and other automakers Tuesday to discuss ways to encourage affected consumers to take action when a recall is issued, Bloomberg reports. In […]

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Mark Rosekind Circa December 2014

Despite the numerous recalls over the past year, recall completion rates are not at 100 percent. The NHTSA and automakers hope to change this.

The agency met with representatives of General Motors, Honda and other automakers Tuesday to discuss ways to encourage affected consumers to take action when a recall is issued, Bloomberg reports.

In the case of GM, the automaker studied those who didn’t take action, then did everything it could to make them aware of a recall issue with the aim of bringing those consumers into the repair shop. However, even with 98 percent of GM owners made aware of recalls as a result of the campaign, inaction still occurred. Of those who did finally act, customer relationship management director Julie Heisel noted it took multiple mailings, phone calls, and assurances of loaner vehicles before those consumers brought their affected vehicles in for repair.

As it stands, the average completion rate for recall repairs comes to 75 percent, though the older the vehicle is, the less likely it will be repaired, according to The Detroit News: 15 percent for vehicles older than 10 years versus 83 percent for newer models.

In 2014, automakers recalled 63.9 vehicles in a record total of 803 recalls, including the February 2014 ignition switch recall issued by GM, and the ongoing Takata airbag recall affecting Honda and nine other automakers.

[Photo credit: Senator Claire McCaskill/Flickr/CC BY-ND 2.0]

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FCA US Joins Michigan Businesses In Opposition Of Proposed Religious Freedom Bill http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/fca-us-joins-michigan-businesses-opposition-proposed-religious-freedom-bill/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/fca-us-joins-michigan-businesses-opposition-proposed-religious-freedom-bill/#comments Wed, 29 Apr 2015 15:00:42 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1056226 Joining the likes of Kellogg’s, Herman Miller and Steelcase, FCA US declared Tuesday its opposition to Michigan’s proposed religious freedom bill. The Michigan Religious Freedom Restoration Act, modelled upon the original federal legislation signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1993, would bestow businesses and individual citizens exemptions from other state legislation that parties […]

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FCA US HQ

Joining the likes of Kellogg’s, Herman Miller and Steelcase, FCA US declared Tuesday its opposition to Michigan’s proposed religious freedom bill.

The Michigan Religious Freedom Restoration Act, modelled upon the original federal legislation signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1993, would bestow businesses and individual citizens exemptions from other state legislation that parties claim would infringe upon their religious beliefs, Allpar News reports. Governor Rick Synder stated he would veto the RFRA unless protections for LGBT Michiganders were expanded in conjunction, expansions FCA US stood behind in its statement regarding the bill:

FCA US LLC has a zero tolerance policy for discrimination of any kind. We are committed to diversity and inclusion, and as such, oppose any law that can result in discrimination. Accordingly, FCA US supports efforts to update Michigan’s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act (ELCRA) to expressly prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Our commitment and policy extends to our employees and business partners.

The opposition toward the bill follows recent backlashes against similar legislation introduced in Indiana and Arkansas. The latter state’s government passed an addendum clarifying its intent behind its RFRA after Indiana sustained significant economic damages – travel bans, event cancellations, loss of new business opportunities et al – as a result of public scrutiny upon the its passage of similar legislation.

[Photo credit: FCA]

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City Officials Ready To Approve Incentives For Arlington Assembly Expansion Plan http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/city-officials-ready-approve-incentives-arlington-assembly-expansion-plan/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/city-officials-ready-approve-incentives-arlington-assembly-expansion-plan/#comments Tue, 28 Apr 2015 17:00:01 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1055641 City officials in Arlington, Texas will vote Tuesday evening to approve incentives for General Motors’ $1.2-billion expansion of Arlington Assembly. Mayor Robert Cluck says the incentive package – including a reduction of real estate and business taxes by 80 percent over 10 years and waived construction and development permits – is in exchange for an […]

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2015 Chevrolet Suburban LTZ

City officials in Arlington, Texas will vote Tuesday evening to approve incentives for General Motors’ $1.2-billion expansion of Arlington Assembly.

Mayor Robert Cluck says the incentive package – including a reduction of real estate and business taxes by 80 percent over 10 years and waived construction and development permits – is in exchange for an expansion that would add 589 jobs to the factory, Detroit Free Press reports. Cluck added that his city “had a beautiful relationship with General Motors,” and sees no issue with the package being passed.

In addition to the new jobs, the plan would add 1.2 million square feet and approximately $1 billion in equipment to the factory floor, with $300 million going toward building improvements for the 60-year-old facility that assembles Chevrolet’s Tahoe and Suburban SUVs, as well as GMC’s Yukon and Yukon XL models, and Cadillac’s Escalade. A spokeswoman for GM declined to offer anything more specific about the plans, claiming that the automaker had “nothing to announce at this time.”

The expansion comes as demand for the aforementioned SUVs have climbed 51 percent in Q1 2015 when compared to the same period in 2014. The demand has the 4.4 million-square-foot factory operating on three shifts six to seven days per week just to keep pace.

[Photo credit: Chevrolet]

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High Auto Insurance Rates Plague Michigan, Legislators Seek Relief http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/high-auto-insurance-rates-plague-michigan-legislators-seek-relief/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/high-auto-insurance-rates-plague-michigan-legislators-seek-relief/#comments Mon, 27 Apr 2015 19:00:44 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1055417 Michigan is the state with the most expensive insurance in the United States. However, a potential overhaul could bring down those costs. As it stands, Michigan’s motorists pay 136 percent above the national average of $815 a year for a policy, with the state’s overall average coming to $1,923/annually, Detroit Free Press reports. Additionally, Wayne […]

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Michigan is the state with the most expensive insurance in the United States. However, a potential overhaul could bring down those costs.

As it stands, Michigan’s motorists pay 136 percent above the national average of $815 a year for a policy, with the state’s overall average coming to $1,923/annually, Detroit Free Press reports. Additionally, Wayne County is the most expensive place to have a policy in Michigan, averaging $2,789 — 45 percent above the state’s average — per year.

According to insuranceQuotes.com senior analyst Laura Adams, the reasons behind Michigan’s No. 1 rank are due to it being the only state to offer unlimited lifetime personal injury protection, and because it has an unusually high amount of uninsured motorists.

That said, the state’s legislators are planning to retune the no-fault auto insurance system, which would maintain the unlimited benefit for those who suffer injuries costing over $545,000, but would place caps on other parts of the system, such as rates for home health care providers. The reform is expected to be passed sometime within the week.

[Photo credit: Angela/Flickr]

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Trans-Pacific Partnership Fears Hover Over Detroit Three http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/trans-pacific-partnership-fears-hover-detroit-three/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/trans-pacific-partnership-fears-hover-detroit-three/#comments Mon, 27 Apr 2015 17:00:15 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1055241 The Detroit Three are among those expressing concern over the Trans-Pacific Partnership free-trade agreement, specifically what it would do to the industry. Last week, both houses of Congress approved President Barack Obama’s request for an up-or-down vote to fast-track the free-trade agreement involving 12 nations and affecting 40 percent of the global economy, The Detroit […]

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Trans-Pacific Partnership Circa 2010

The Detroit Three are among those expressing concern over the Trans-Pacific Partnership free-trade agreement, specifically what it would do to the industry.

Last week, both houses of Congress approved President Barack Obama’s request for an up-or-down vote to fast-track the free-trade agreement involving 12 nations and affecting 40 percent of the global economy, The Detroit News reports. The urgency comes amid warnings that if the TPP isn’t put into effect as soon as possible, China, not the United States, would be the one creating similar trade deals.

Though the TPP has few fans among unions, activists, and most Democrats in Congress, the Detroit Three have their own concerns about the fast-tracking proposal: once enacted, the 2.5-percent tariff on cars and parts, as well as the infamous 25 percent “Chicken Tax” on imported light-duty trucks, would disappear over a period of time. The latter has been used to protect the domestic truck market by keeping competitors out unless the latter were willing to build trucks in the U.S.

According to the trio, were the tariffs – which they want to keep around for 25 more years at minimum – to disappear, and if Japan weakens its currency to better compete against them, domestic automakers would eventually be undercut by Japanese automakers. In turn, the Detroit Three would face considerable pressure to return fire, with those on the factory floor likely to be the hardest hit.

Another issue surrounding Japan is importation of U.S. vehicles, which the trio state has been difficult to accomplish over the years due to a number of trade barriers, tariffs not being among them as far as Japan’s importation policy is concerned. Japanese automakers counter that so few U.S. vehicles are imported annually because the Detroit Three haven’t made much of an effort to sell them to Japanese consumers in the first place. While the former has spent billions and employed thousands to build vehicles in the U.S., Detroit hasn’t done the same at all.

Currently, their lobbyists are working to add an enforceable currency provision to the TPP to protect Detroit’s standing. So far, the provision has yet to be added to the pact.

[Photo credit: Gobinero de Chile/Flickr]

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More Legislators Move To Ban Red Light Cameras http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/legislators-move-ban-red-light-cameras/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/legislators-move-ban-red-light-cameras/#comments Fri, 24 Apr 2015 15:00:01 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1053273 The bane of many a motorist and freedom advocate alike, the red light camera’s days may be drawing to a close as more governments move to ban them. Over the past two months alone, legislators in California, Illinois and Texas have moved to do away with the devices based on both civil rights and financial […]

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Red light camera in Beaverton, Oregon

The bane of many a motorist and freedom advocate alike, the red light camera’s days may be drawing to a close as more governments move to ban them.

Over the past two months alone, legislators in California, Illinois and Texas have moved to do away with the devices based on both civil rights and financial concerns, Business Insider reports. The bans in California and Texas would be statewide if made into law, while Illinois’ ban would only apply to suburbs outside of Chicago and other communities with local authority.

The three states join 10 others that have imposed bans on red light cameras and another 19 that never bothered with the issue in the first place. The devices have garnered criticism from those who were caught by them, then received tickets in the mail, all without a chance to defend themselves under due process.

Meanwhile, the cities that once had them in place – such as the majority of the 110 municipalities in California that used red light cameras; only 39 of the 110 remain currently – took them down when they found that revenue from tickets issued didn’t do much to fill the coffers in the first place.

[Photo credit: Chris Phan/Flickr]

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