Category: Government

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.
Read More >

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 >

By on February 22, 2017

Flint Silverado assembly plant

Scott Pruitt, Oklahoma’s former attorney general, was sworn in to his new role as Environmental Protection Agency administrator late Friday following a 52-46 Senate vote earlier in the day.

While it isn’t known what Pruitt did over the weekend, it’s safe to say that members of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers spent at least part of that downtime drafting a letter, likely mirroring one they’ve already sent to President Donald Trump.

The group, representing 12 automakers that build 77 percent of the light-duty vehicles sold in the U.S., wants action on lowering the industry’s fuel economy and emissions targets. Urgent action, ideally. Now that there’s been a change at the top, the group feels that it might finally get its wish. Read More >

By on February 17, 2017

Scott Pruitt (Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

The Environmental Protection Agency has a new administrator.

Scott Pruitt, Oklahoma’s attorney general and President Donald Trump’s first choice for the role, was confirmed today following a 52-46 Senate vote that fell mainly along party lines, with some exceptions.

In an odd twist of fate, the man who once sued the EPA multiple times is now the man running it. Read More >

By on February 17, 2017

GMC Unveils Terrain and Terrain Denali

Volkswagen’s emissions scandal may have killed that company’s diesel presence in North America, but it didn’t kill demand for diesel engines in general — especially ones that don’t pollute like Chernobyl and end up in the trash heap.

At least, that’s General Motors’ take on it. The automaker hopes to fill the void created by VW’s oil-burning absence and, in doing so, score some points with the EPA. With diesel engines now available in five vehicles you won’t see on a worksite (and five more that you would), GM has high hopes it can erase memories of its 1980s diesel woes. Read More >

By on February 16, 2017

2016 GMC yukon Denali

President Donald Trump is poised to order changes at the Environmental Protection Agency once a new administrator is confirmed, sources at the regulator claim.

In a meeting Tuesday, EPA employees were told to expect two to five executive orders, Reuters reports. While the news will likely cause anxiety among the nation’s environmentalists, U.S. automakers are likely crossing their fingers for a different reason. Read More >

By on February 14, 2017

Donald Trump Sr. at #FITN in Nashua, NH, Image: By Michael Vadon (Donald Trump Sr. at #FITN in Nashua, NH) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Since the inauguration of U.S. president Donald Trump, Canadian political and auto industry officials have taken every opportunity to highlight the economic prosperity and millions of jobs that depend on cross-border trade. And the lobbying seems to have paid off.

At a joint press conference following the first official meeting Monday between Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the U.S. leader praised the economic ties between the two countries.

“We have a very outstanding relationship with Canada. We’ll be tweaking it,” said Trump. “We’ll be doing certain things that are going to benefit both of our countries.”

At the same time, he took a swipe at the trading relationship with Mexico, calling it “unfair to the United States.”

Read More >

By on February 13, 2017

Donald Trump

After several weeks spent wondering just how the continent’s trade landscape will look after president Donald Trump renegotiates the North American Free Trade Agreement, the business world now has a slightly clearer picture of where the pieces may land.

Trump spoke briefly about his trade goals with both Mexico and Canada after meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the White House. Read More >

By on February 10, 2017

2015 Volkswagen Jetta TDI, Image: Volkswagen of America

A border tax placed on Mexican goods bound for the United States would be a worst-case scenario for struggling Volkswagen.

The automaker, which already knows a few things about worst-case scenarios, is waiting on pins and needles to see if the proposed tax prices its small cars out of the market. Read More >

By on February 6, 2017

automobile_exhaust_gas (Wikimedia commons)

Contrary to the popular mantra, there is a replacement for displacement. The problem is tiny engines that harness technology to boost power output aren’t the greenest things on the road. In fact, the emissions created by small two, three and four-cylinder engines are often out of all proportion to the mills’ Lilliputian displacement.

Volkswagen, realizing it’s staring down the barrel of regulatory non-compliance, has vowed to stop searching for the latest gas- and diesel-powered micro-wonder. Small is out. Normal-sized is in. Read More >

By on February 6, 2017

Automakers are waiting with bated breath to see where the pieces land once President Donald Trump complete’s the country’s trade revamp. One proposal would see a border tax of 20 percent placed on goods imported from other countries — a move that would impact the cost of manufacturing vehicles, and buying them.

Not every automaker would see a similar financial hit. Domestic manufacturers that use a high degree of parts built in the U.S., especially those that build few models in Mexico for delivery in the States, wouldn’t see much on an impact. For those that import most or all of their U.S. fleet from foreign factories, the cost per vehicle could be enormous. Customers, of course, would need to make up the difference.

While the tax proposal might come to nothing, a recent study shows what consumers could expect to see on window stickers if the idea becomes policy. Read More >

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