After banishing Volkswagen Group diesels from the American marketplace, the Environmental Protection Agency is taking its sweet time approving oil burners from other automakers.
On September 9th, Volkswagen engineer James Liang pleaded guilty after being indicted on a variety of crimes related to VW’s deliberate use of a software routine that cheated on government diesel emissions testing.
Until his guilty plea was entered in United States District Court in Detroit, Liang’s indictment was under seal. Now that it has been made public (full PDF version here), we know more details about VW’s cheat and it turns out that the German automaker even updated the original software cheat — apparently to work more effectively — with a patch delivered in the guise of fixing emissions related warranty claims.
As the scandal was breaking, Volkswagen also deliberately supplied government agencies with false data to make the problem appear to be the result of a mechanical malfunction, not a defeat device. (Read More…)
Whoa, slow down a minute. That’s the message from three Republican members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which is reviewing fuel economy targets set out for automakers.
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…)
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s inspector general, the Obama Administration has failed to live up to its legal obligation to study the environmental impact of blending ethanol with gasoline.
Those findings, the result of an inspector general audit, confirm what the Associated Press reported back in late 2013, prompting the audit.
In 2007, Congress passed the Energy Independence and Security Act, which was and signed into law by Pres. George W. Bush. Among other things, the 2007 legislation increased the Renewable Fuel Standard that mandated biofuel production, primarily ethanol, and the blending of at least some of that ethanol into the gasoline supply.
The law also stipulates that the U.S. EPA must conduct studies every three years and report to Congress on the air and water quality benefit, or lack thereof, by adding corn-based ethanol to gasoline. The purpose of that part of the law is to make sure solutions to the country’s energy needs don’t adversely affect the environment. (Read More…)
The most American of motorcycle manufacturers has agreed to pay a $15 million settlement after the Environmental Protection Agency accused it of selling illegal aftermarket tuning kits.
The company’s “Screamin’ Eagle” super tuners, sold since 2008, cause motorcycles to emit excessive amounts of air pollution, the EPA claims. (Read More…)
Indeed, car shoppers looking for a bargain can potentially find fleet gold at surplus auctions, where municipal, county, state, and federal agencies dispose of (usually) lightly used domestic cars and trucks. Knowing how those agencies use their vehicles can make or break the value of your find; buying an ex-Border Patrol Raptor in Texas may not be the best idea if you want a long-lived, trouble free truck.
A keen eye and a bit of luck, however, can yield a magnificent treasure. In 1979, a high-school shop teacher spotted this old Plymouth up for bid, and took it home for a measly $500. It’s no ordinary Plymouth, of course — it’s the legendary Superbird, with the NASCAR-ready homologation wing and aero nose.
It’s up for auction again in October, though it’ll cross the stage under bright lights and TV cameras at the glitzy Barrett-Jackson auction in Las Vegas instead of a dreary government service facility. As these rare ‘Birds tend to trade for well over six figures, we’d have to say this is likely the best surplus find yet.
However, the story behind this example might make it worth even more: This particular Superbird was owned by the Environmental Protection Agency.
The dialogue from Tesla wasn’t all rainbows and puppies this week.
In oddly coordinated diatribes, CEO Elon Musk and his vice-president of business development took off the soft driving gloves and laid into their competition and the country’s regulators. The message? Put up, pay up, or shut up. (Read More…)
Volkswagen diesel owners will be able to spend many happy, polluting miles on the road, even after they request a fix instead of a buyback.
Buried in the automaker’s $15.3 billion U.S. settlement is the expectation that most of the recalled vehicles will still spew twice the allowable rate of emissions after being repaired, according to Bloomberg. A fix for the 475,000 2.0-liter diesels hasn’t been approved, but regulators fully expect any repair plan to fail — and they’re grudgingly okay with it. (Read More…)
The federal agencies reviewing the country’s corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) targets are pleasantly surprised by the amount of fuel-saving technology in modern vehicles, and hint that the target they decided on back in 2011 is still doable.
Those agencies just released a technical assessment report (TAR) to guide the review process. In it, they figured that vehicles will average between 50 and 52.6 miles per gallon by the target year of 2025 — if gas stays stable and consumers continue buying SUVs and trucks.
That’s not too far off the original target, and judging by the optimistic tone of the report, it’s likely the 54.5 mpg mandate will stay intact. (Read More…)
It’s like the Rapture, but for polluting German vehicles.
Starting this fall, owners of the 466,000 defeat device-equipped Volkswagen and Audi 2.0-liter TDI models still left on the road will head to their dealer, hand over their keys, sign a mountain of paperwork, and walk away with a fat check issued by the bean counters in Wolfburg.
So, what happens to your once-trustworthy diesel-powered steed after the buyback? (Read More…)
Serendipitously, Sajeev Mehta’s post about the possible damage to older cars from gasoline-ethanol blends went up just a few days after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposed a new mandate to mix another 700 million gallons of biofuels — including 300 million gallons of corn-based ethanol — into the country’s fuel supply.
The objective of the new mandate: hit a 18.8 billion gallon 2017 target for biofuels.
The move has both critics and supporters of ethanol unhappy. (Read More…)