By on August 22, 2017

vehicles air pollution smog,Image: Union of Concerned Scientists

Despite aggressive regulatory efforts to counter pollution, California emissions from on-road transportation rose by roughly 4.4 million metric tons of carbon dioxide in 2015 vs one year earlier, according to the San Francisco-based non-profit Next 10. The state also had the dubious honor of housing six of the country’s 10 most polluted cities, based on data from the American Lung Association’s annual “State of the Air” report released last April.

While topography plays a major role (cities located in valleys and basins have a tendency to trap air pollutants), much of the problem has to do with Californians driving more. Let’s face it, gas is cheap and public transit options are typically the less-enjoyable option in all but the most densely packed cities. In fact, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation has seen declining ridership over the last two years — even though the city has a major issue with traffic. (Read More…)

By on August 15, 2017

merkel

After a lot of back and forth on citywide diesel bans and loads of corporate scandal, the German automotive industry has taken a public beating. However, with a few politicians still left in its corner, it’s managed to avoid some of Europe’s anti-combustion wrath. Proposed diesel bans haven’t yet come into effect, but there remains a strong contingent to force change with Chancellor Angela Merkel suddenly taking a greener stance as an election looms.

There’s no shortage of controversy surrounding Europe’s automotive industry, and much of it surrounds environmental issues. The public solution is to move away from fossil fuels and promote electric vehicles through regulatory action within the next few decades — an idea Merkel now openly supports.

“I don’t want to name an exact year,” she said in a recent interview with SUPERillu. But she also believes Britain and France’s plans to phase out internal-combustion cars by 2040 is “the right approach.” (Read More…)

By on June 29, 2017

fuel gauge

A recent study from Consumers Union — the public policy and advocacy division of Consumer Reports — shows continued interest among U.S. residents in seeing automakers improve fuel economy figures, even as gas prices remain fairly low.

While this should come as a shock to no one, nearly nine in 10 surveyed consumers agreed automakers should continue improving fuel efficiency standards on all vehicles. As well, only 30 percent believed manufacturers actually cared about lowering fuel costs for their customers.

This might be true but, then again, why would automakers do such a thing when the general populace has essentially turned its back on economical passenger cars? With little incentive to sell them, especially if the Trump administration alters 2025 emission targets, any top-tier automaker focusing exclusively on building MPG-focused automobiles would be placing itself at major financial risk.

The survey indicated fuel economy as the area perceived to possess the most room for improvement in modern vehicles. However, consumers have not used their wallets to bolster economy car sales. There appears to be a disparity between what the public claims to value and how it actually behaves. At a minimum, consumers may have misunderstood everything it would take to see fleet-wide fuel consumption decline. If they want to see higher MPGs, they’re going to have to make some sacrifices and the survey doesn’t allude to that fact.  (Read More…)

By on May 25, 2017

2015 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 HD LTZ crew cab pickup

Suing automakers over diesel emissions violations is quickly on its way to becoming passé.

Since Volkswagen admitted to installing software that circumvented pollution laws, regulators have been on the hunt for their next big target. While it might make their efforts seem like a bit of a witch hunt, there’s good reason to be on the lookout. Studies have shown diesel emission levels are often much higher than analysts expected, with experts attributing the results to the high probability that other automakers are skirting regulatory guidelines — likely by way of defeat devices.

Daimler, Renault, and PSA Group are all being investigated in their home countries as FCA faces legal action within the United States.

General Motors is now being sued for allegedly installing defeat devices in its trucks to sidestep emissions tests, making it the sixth major manufacturer accused of diesel cheating since 2015. However, General Motors isn’t dabbling in gray areas, acting confused, or assuring the public it will get to the bottom of the accusations. It says the claims against it are flat out wrong.  (Read More…)

By on May 18, 2017

2016 Mazda2, Image: Mazda

It was January of 2015 and I was standing in a small venue in Montreal. The space was dark save some access lighting and red spotlights pointed at a sheet-covered car.

A few moments later, the sheet was pulled off, and Mazda Canada announced the 2016 Mazda 2 would be coming to The Great White North.

Eleven months later, Mazda Canada would reverse that decision, citing other all-new products — namely the CX-3 and MX-5 — requiring Mazda’s full attention. After all, the small automaker didn’t want to spread itself too thin, and it wasn’t like the previous-generation Mazda 2 set the sales charts on fire — on either side of the border.

In America, Mazda North America Operations had zero intention of selling the subcompact in any region other than Puerto Rico. Yet, year after year since the model went on sale in other global markets, Mazda continues to certify the Mazda 2’s emissions system with the California Air Resources Board, effectively making it eligible for retail sale in any of the 13 “CARB states” and District of Columbia.

Meanwhile, Mazda says it still has no intention to sell the Mazda 2 in America. What’s going on? We reached out to Mazda to get an answer.

(Read More…)

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 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 May 13, 2016

2015 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel HFE, Image: FCA

You know the world is a bit upside-down when master wordsmith Jack Baruth spins a web so tight in favor of the EPA and CARB that even the Best and Brightest can’t see through it.

Jack makes a valid point today: light-duty trucks, especially those of the diesel variety, are often driven by people who don’t need the capability that those trucks provide. It’s those diesel pickups that spew tons of particulates and NOx into the atmosphere, both of which are harmful to human health. Goodbye, he says to the light-duty diesel truck, before we turn into Europe. Turbo-fed gasoline engines offer just as much torque as their diesel-powered brethren, he exclaims. There’s no need to buy an $80,000 phallus extender. What do you think of this twin-turbo V6 Raptor?

However, Mr. Baruth stopped just short of saying recreational use of light-duty diesel trucks should be outright banned, instead offering up a solution that’s analogous to gun control.

(Read More…)

By on April 1, 2016

tdiengine

Volkswagen’s slow roll-out of fixes for recalled diesel vehicles in Europe has hit a snag.

Authorities in Europe have put the brakes on a series of Volkswagen recalls after greater fuel consumption was allegedly recorded in models that have undergone the diesel emissions fix, Automotive News Europe is reporting.

Reports say that fuel economy suffered after the fix, forcing Germany’s Federal Motor Transport Authority (KBA) to halt the repairs of 2.0-liter Volkswagen, Audi and Skoda models.

(Read More…)

By on March 15, 2016

money

The numbers are big — 278 investors seeking $3.61 billion — but the latest lawsuit leveled at Volkswagen is merely another drop in the penalty bucket for the embattled automaker.

As has been expected for some time, a group of institutional investors from numerous countries is seeking compensation for financial damage caused by Volkswagen’s diesel emissions scandal, Reuters is reporting.

The lawsuit was filed Monday in a Lower Saxony court — the same jurisdiction as Volkswagen’s headquarters — and alleges the automaker breached its duty under capital markets law between the time the “defeat device” was first installed in diesel models and when the scandal went public last September. (Read More…)

By on November 4, 2015

Volkswagen Polo

German authorities said Wednesday that they would retest all Volkswagen cars — regardless of engine type or brand — for emissions compliance, Reuters reported.

German transportation minister Alexander Dobrindt expressed his “irritation” with the automaker that more cars were being added to the deepening scandal. On Monday, the Environmental Protection Agency notified the automaker that some of its 3-liter diesel models may contain an illegal “defeat device” to fool emissions tests. (Read More…)

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