Tag: Pollution

By on July 20, 2017

air fresheners, Tony Alter/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

China doesn’t possess the same affinity for the iconic “new car smell” that remains popular in North America. The scent itself, a conglomeration of industrial adhesive fumes and the off-gassing of various plastics, is technically toxic air pollution trapped inside the vehicle’s cabin. However, Western drivers have made it synonymous with the pleasantries of owning a new vehicle, while Chinese motorists have not.

This brings up a very important question. Are they bad people?

While it would be very easy to use this single example to conclude that China is a perverse and disturbed nation, Westerners subjected to the volatile compounds of a new car’s interior on a particularly hot day might agree that the smell, in heavy doses, occasionally leaves something to be desired. Ideally, the odor should bring a tear to the eye due to nostalgia or pride, not because it’s trying to flush out the hazardous vapors emitted by baked vinyl.

“Research shows that vehicle interiors contain a unique cocktail of hundreds of toxic chemicals that off-gas in small, confined spaces,” said Jeff Gearhart, research director at the Ecology Center, which has been researching the the smell since 2006. “Since [most of] these chemicals are not regulated, consumers have no way of knowing the dangers they face. Our testing is intended to expose those dangers and encourage manufacturers to use safer alternatives.”

Automakers have been. As a result, the intensity of new car smell has diminished quite a bit since the early 2000s. In North America, it’s largely the result of trying to exclude carcinogenic fumes from substances like polyvinyl chloride. But in China, the practice extends out to nullifying any negative associations shoppers might have with the scent by trying to eliminate it entirely. It’s the number one concern for new car buyers, and automakers and customers go to great lengths to avoid even the slightest whiff.

(Read More…)

By on June 2, 2017

Donald Trump, public domain

On Thursday, President Trump made the decision to ditch the Paris climate accord and the entire internet seemingly spent the next twelve hours calling it a misstep. Either the president possesses a hidden wisdom on the subject that nobody else can seem to fathom, or he has severely misjudged the public’s position on environmental issues. Calling the accord “unfair at the highest level to the United States,” Trump suggested the deal was detrimental to the country’s manufacturing efforts and gave other nations a financial advantage.

However, the instant feedback from the automotive industry did not appear to share his viewpoint. With nearly 200 other countries still adhering to the nonbinding Paris agreement, it’s almost as if Trump had forgotten car companies operate on a global stage. Both General Motors and Ford Motor Company issued statements in opposition to Trump’s decision.

“We believe climate change is real, and remain deeply committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions in our vehicles and our facilities,” announced Ford. “Our commitment to sustainability is why we’re investing so heavily in electrification and adding 13 new electrified vehicles to our lineup.” (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 17, 2017

traffic (Michael Gil/Flickr)

Earlier today, we mentioned Volvo was preparing to dump its diesel-burning engines because the EU is aggressively pursuing anti-diesel legislation. While it’s easy to accuse Europe of being fraught with fringe environmentalists, the truth is that the continent spent decades avoiding restrictions on diesel-burning passenger vehicles, sold loads of them, and has suddenly found itself with its green pants around its ankles.

In addition to hazy skies, air pollution isn’t exactly great for your health. A recent study published in Nature found diesel engines produced 5 million more tons of nitrogen oxide than previously estimated for 2015. The research focused on vehicles in Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, the European Union, India, Japan, Mexico, Russia, South Korea and the United States and uncovered that we’ve grossly overestimated the amount of good being done by our global regulatory efforts. Companies are practically guaranteed to be falsifying testing results while others are openly incapable of reaching government-enforced guidelines.

Who cares? It’s not like anyone is dying, right? Well, not exactly. (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 January 19, 2017

pumping-gas-1631638_1920

President-elect Donald Trump’s pick to head the Environmental Protection Agency, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, said he plans to review the Obama administration’s recent decision to secure fuel efficiency standards through 2025.

Last week, outgoing EPA administrator Gina McCarthy bumped up the timeline for the final determination on the fuel efficiency rule in the hopes of maintaining the Obama administration’s climate legacy.

“It merits review and I would review that,” Pruitt said at yesterday’s Senate confirmation hearing. Later that same day, Pruitt confirmed that he would not permit California to continue operating under its own rules as part of its 2009 advanced clean cars program and zero emission vehicle mandates.

As predicted, California isn’t interested in being told what to do.  (Read More…)

By on December 17, 2016

VW LOGO Ice

Volkswagen Group has agreed to shell out $200 million into a reserve created to reduce diesel pollution, a stipulation in the pending agreements made over the 3.0-liter diesels that polluted well over the United State’s legal limit.

The finalized agreement between VW and U.S. lawmakers is expected to come by Monday, pending the company’s decision on what to do about the 80,000 Audi, Volkswagen, and Porsche vehicles with emissions-cheating diesel engines still on the road. Legal representatives for the carmaker, affected consumers, and the Justice Department have indicated that negotiations are still progressing, however VW may still have to go to trial if a final agreement isn’t reached soon.  (Read More…)

By on October 15, 2016

Ford 1.0L Ecoboost. Photo courtesy Ford.

If you think engine displacements have become a little too European over here, you’d hate to see the motorcycle-worthy powerplants motivating econoboxes on the other side of the pond.

Paired with the magic of modern technology, inline threes and parallel twins can now make enough grunt to move respectably sized vehicles. However, those days could soon be over, all thanks to ambitious regulators and the downsized engines’ tendency to spew man-sized amounts of pollution.

And if you think this isn’t America’s problem, think again. (Read More…)

By on August 30, 2016

2015 Volkswagen Jetta TDI (3 of 8)

Faced with the option of waiting to see if their cars can be fixed or accepting a hefty cash payout, diesel Volkswagen owners are opting to take the money and run.

Once-fierce loyalty to the dirty “clean diesels” seems to have evaporated, as most owners who’ve registered for the settlement want the automaker to buy back their car, Automotive News reports. (Read More…)

By on June 14, 2016

Nikola One from Nikola Motors, Image: Nikola Motors

Is this big rig the real life? Or is it just fantasy?

Nikola Motors, the company that recently sprouted out of the proverbial ether to announce a $350,000+ turbine-electric-powered Class 8 truck, claims it’s taken in $2.3 billion in pre-orders. Say what now?

That, the air in Mexico is thick with pollution, Nissan is bridging the gap to hydrogen with a corny solution, and BMW has solved the leasing bubble …  after the break!

(Read More…)

By on May 27, 2016

2016 Mercedes-Benz E-Class

The world’s oldest automaker isn’t about to let regulators pry its diesel engines from its warm, German hands.

Mercedes-Benz is rolling out a new line of oil-burning engines that will surpass even the most stringent emissions requirements, AutoExpress reports.

So stingy are the new diesels, the automaker says they’ll pass looming European Union requirements that aren’t scheduled to go into effect until 2017. (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…)

By on March 24, 2016

TDI Clean Diesel

After missing today’s deadline for a U.S. emissions fix, Volkswagen has been issued a new one, and will now face a summer trial if the date passes without a plan to cure its diesel ills.

The extension of the deadline until April 21 was issued by U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer, who had earlier set the March 24 deadline for the embattled automaker, Reuters is reporting.

The consensus of today’s meeting in California between Volkswagen, the Environmental Protection Agency and the California Air Resources Board was that progress had been made in reaching an agreement on how to deal with 580,000 Volkswagen diesels equipped with pollution-causing defeat devices.

(Read More…)

By on March 17, 2016

department-of-justice

After its excessively dirty diesels polluted the nation’s air for years, Volkswagen is on the verge of making environmental reparations in the U.S. and state of California, Bloomberg reports.

The automaker is reportedly in talks with U.S authorities to create two remediation funds aimed at offsetting some of the environmental (and possibly legal) damage resulting from the diesel emissions scandal. (Read More…)

By on March 9, 2016

Car exhaust (Image: JT/Flickr)

There’s a chance that older Volkswagen TDI models branded as pollution monsters in the ongoing diesel emissions scandal could keep rolling along the avenues and alleyways of the Golden State.

On March 8, California’s air regulator floated the idea that diesels that can’t fully be brought back into compliance with state laws might get a pass, according to Reuters.

Tod Sax, chief of the California Air Resources Board’s enforcement division, admitted that bringing every one of the state’s approximately 82,000 afflicted diesels up to code is probably not possible. (Read More…)

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