While it wasn’t quite on par with the drama of a mob trail, the criminal case of Volkswagen’s diesel emissions scandal possesses a lot of similarities. A break in the case, police raids, a powerful family, an unwillingness to cooperate with authorities, and an informant that made it all possible. But just who was the Henry Hill to Volkswagen’s Lucchese crime family?
According to a new book on the subject, written by New York Times reporter Jack Ewing, VW’s Engineering and Environmental Office head Stuart Johnson was the primary contact for the United States’ regulatory agencies. Johnson was on the front lines of the scandal and was among the first managers the EPA publicly reached out to in September of 2015, but it seems that may have been a ploy not to blow his cover — he had already spoken to the California Air Resources Board a month earlier. (Read More…)
Not to go all political on you, but it’s amazing how President Obama acted more like a bitter foreclosure victim — one who goes nuts and destroys as much of the house as they can, just short of being arrested for vandalism — during his last days in office, and not a graceful man given two terms as the leader of the free world.
Mr. Obama did this in two ways: one action affected a short list of government folk, and the other impacted one of the most important industries in our lives — the auto industry.
The short-listed government victims are those affected by Obama’s order to share dirt on people talking with “foreigners.” It’s against the law — but when did that stop the former President? What’s worse, and perhaps deadly, is Mr. Obama’s decision to renege on his promise to check and perhaps re-adjust the daunting future Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standard his administration first put in place in 2009, which the administration made even wackier in 2011.
A large part of Volkswagen’s emissions scandal penance involves a gargantuan investment into eco-centric technologies and the development of the United States’ electric vehicle infrastructure. The latter should come by way of its Electrify America subsidiary and four $500 million investments separated by four 30-month periods over the next 10 years.
We now know exactly how VW intends to roll out the green carpet with its court-mandated funding. (Read More…)
The Trump administration’s current plan for the Environmental Protection Agency budget removes nearly all funding for vehicle emissions testing. Proposed cuts to the EPA’s budget would eliminate 99 percent of the agency’s $48 million in funding for vehicle testing, shouldering automakers with increased fees to split the difference.
However, former head of the EPA’s Office of Transportation and Air Quality Margo Oge is claiming that such a large cut would force the agency into “pretty much shutting down the testing lab” regardless of corporate contributions. (Read More…)
If you’ve felt left out of the Volkswagen diesel affair until now, chin up. You’ll soon be able to purchase your very own piece of automotive scandal history.
The Environmental Protection Agency has approved the sale of 2015 Volkswagen Group vehicles equipped with Generation 3 2.0-liter diesel engines, making this the first time any of the half-million-plus sidelined vehicles have been legally available to customers since the scandal began.
The contrarian’s list of unlikely daily drivers just grew a bit longer. (Read More…)
California has green-lit light-vehicle pollution targets that the Trump administration has placed under review. As expected, the Golden State is going to continue playing hardball over Environmental Protection Agency regulations.
Already critical of the automotive industry for asking the president to reconsider federal guidelines through 2025, the California Air Resources Board hinted that it wouldn’t stray from the emission targets set by the Obama administration in 2012. On Friday, CARB finalized its state emissions rules while setting an updated ordinance on zero-emission vehicles. “We’re going to press on,” said Mary Nichols, head of the board, during last week’s press conference. (Read More…)
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…)
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…)
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…)
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…)
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…)
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.
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…)
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…)
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…)