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 16, 2017

Donald Trump

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

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

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

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

By on March 13, 2017

Donald Trump

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

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

By on March 9, 2017

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

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

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

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

By on March 4, 2017

pumping gas

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

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

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

By on January 13, 2017

pumping fuel

Environmental Protection Agency administrator Gina McCarthy has decided to maintain current emissions and fuel economy standards through 2025, cementing a central pillar of the Obama administration’s green legacy.

Many automakers have been critical of Obama’s rather strict climate policies and were hopeful that President-elect Donald Trump might roll back some of the more stringent regulations. Of the policies, none is more controversial than the corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) mandate, which began a midterm review earlier this year.

While the EPA’s ultimate determination wasn’t due until April of 2018, choosing not to alter 2025 vehicle emission and CAFE rules effectively locks in the standard before Trump can take office.  (Read More…)

By on December 7, 2016

Scott Pruitt (Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

It looks like the Environmental Protection Agency’s rush to cement fuel economy targets before Inauguration Day wasn’t due to paranoia.

According to the New York Times, President-elect Donald Trump has tapped Oklahoma attorney general Scott Pruitt to head the EPA. Pruitt, 48, is a top opponent of the Obama administration’s environmental regulations and climate change policy, going so far as to organize legal action against the federal government.

Pruitt’s nod is bad news for environmentalists, and good news for industry. Automakers could soon find themselves less burdened by green tape. (Read More…)

By on October 24, 2016

2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class

After banishing Volkswagen Group diesels from the American marketplace, the Environmental Protection Agency is taking its sweet time approving oil burners from other automakers.

So slow is the EPA in providing regulatory thumbs-ups to 2017 model year diesel vehicles, one automaker is re-thinking its plans for the U.S., Automotive News reports. (Read More…)

By on August 26, 2016

gas-pump-save-ftr

Low-octane gasoline. It was great for the detuned boat anchors found under the hoods of 1970s Malaise-era barges, because you weren’t having fun, anyway.

The future of gasoline-powered vehicles is all about high-compression engines and ever-stricter environmental regulations, meaning gasoline with higher octane than today’s pumps can provide could be on the horizon. (Read More…)

By on July 14, 2016

Porsche cayenne diesel

California’s Air Resources Board wants nothing to do with Volkswagen’s proposed fix for its 3.0-liter VW, Audi and Porsche TDI models equipped with emissions-cheating defeat devices.

The regulator rejected the automaker’s plan yesterday, and later issued a release calling it “incomplete and deficient in a number of areas.” For Volkswagen, CARB’s rejection is a major setback to its goal of settling the rest of its diesel emissions scandal fallout without another expensive buyback program. (Read More…)

By on May 14, 2016

2016 Buick Enclave

General Motors is in damage control mode following the discovery of incorrect fuel economy ratings on the window stickers of its 2016 full-size crossovers.

A “stop sale” order was issued to GM dealers on Wednesday after EPA labels on GMC Acadia, Chevrolet Traverse and Buick Enclave vehicles were shown to overstate mileage by one to two miles per gallon, Automotive News reports. (Read More…)

By on May 10, 2016

Porsche cayenne diesel

After agonizing over a fix for its 2.0-liter diesel models, Volkswagen is close to finalizing a plan for vehicles powered by the 3.0-liter TDI V6.

The first fix forced Volkswagen into a wildly expensive buyback-and-fix program for the nearly half million 2.0-liter TDIs sidelined by the diesel emissions scandal, but that won’t be needed for the bigger engines, sources close to the issue tell Bloomberg. (Read More…)

By on April 28, 2016

2017 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

After admitting it fudged fuel economy data for the past 25 years in Japan, Mitsubishi Motors wants the Environmental Protection Agency to know that its U.S. vehicles are A-OK.

The automaker claims it conducted an internal audit on vehicles from model year 2013 to present and contrasted that data with figures it had previously submitted to the EPA. The conclusion? The information’s fine. (Read More…)

By on April 21, 2016

Volkswagen Wolfsburg

Embattled automaker Volkswagen reached a long-awaited settlement deal in principle with regulators this morning in a California courtroom.

Before presiding judge Charles Breyer, Volkswagen agreed to buy back afflicted diesel models from U.S. buyers, while compensating their owners from a newly created fund. The automaker would accept early termination on leased models, and fix some vehicles if requested by owners. (Read More…)

By on April 20, 2016

Volkswagen Golf family

Dirty Volkswagen diesels equipped with illicit “defeat devices” could soon be flying off driveways and into oblivion.

Sources briefed on the matter told Reuters (via Automotive News) that the automaker will offer to buy back up to half a million 2.0-liter TDI models in the U.S. that emit illegal levels of smog-causing emissions.

They expect that Volkswagen will make the offer tomorrow before a federal judge. The company’s deadline for a U.S. fix is tomorrow, and a failure to act will result in a trial the automaker desperately wants to avoid. (Read More…)

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