The Truth About Cars » Pollution The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Wed, 09 Jul 2014 15:21:02 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Pollution Nissan To Offer e-NV200 In Europe in 2014 Wed, 30 Oct 2013 14:31:23 +0000 Nissan e-NV200. Photo courtesy Nissan.The all-electric future creeps upon us all steadily, from Tesla’s luxury offerings more appropriate for New York Fashion Week, to Nissan’s electric blue and white jelly beans moving eco-conscious families to Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s.

Speaking of Nissan, the automaker has decided to unleash the e-Nv200 upon the streets of Europe in 2014, with both fleet and private sales in mind.

The reason is, of course, due to regulations. According to Automotive News Europe, vans made and sold in 2020 for fleets must release no more than 147 grams per kilometer of CO2. Current regs allow for 203 grams of the greenhouse gas per kilometer traveled. Some European cities, such as Barcelona, have or will have stricter limits on how much nitrogen oxides and particulates a vehicle can produce – no surprise then that Nissan and the municipal government are working hand in hand to promote EVs.

The e-NV200 will be screwed together in Barcelona alongside its gasoline-fueled sibling, and will share its powertrain with that of the Leaf; batteries sold separately in England.

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Lake Michigan Car Ferry, SS Badger, and EPA Reach Agreement Mon, 25 Mar 2013 05:04:03 +0000 Click here to view the embedded video.

The Lake Michigan Car Ferry website is reporting that the Environmental Protection Agency and the operators of the Lake Michigan car ferry, the SS Badger, which runs between Ludington MI and Manitowoc, WI, have reached and agreement that will allow the historic steamship to continue operating. The Badger is one of the last coal fired vessels operating commercially on the great lakes and its continued operation means millions of trade and tourist dollars for the region it serves. During the summer months, the 6650 ton vessel makes two round trip crossings per day and can carry 600 passengers and up to 180 automobiles.

The SS Badger’s future was cast into uncertainty when the ship’s permit to dump coal ash into the waters of Lake Michigan, something that was common when the ship was constructed in the early 1950s, expired in December of last year. The current agreement allows the company to continue dumping ash into the lake with a 15% reduction for the next two years while constructing a containment system that must be in place by January 1, 2015. After that date, no more ash can be dumped overboard.

Yours truly made the Ludington to Manitowoc crossing in the summer of 2004 and had a wonderful time. Having spent around 5 years as an engineer on large, oil fired steamships in the Pacific, I was excited when, planning a cross country trip, I discovered the ferry service. Instead of driving south through the maelstrom that is Chicago area traffic, I cut across bucolic upstate Michigan and made a leisurely passage in fine weather. Like many other fans of the SS Badger, I am thrilled that this historic old vessel will continue sailing into the foreseeable future.


Thomas Kreutzer currently lives in Buffalo, New York with his wife and three children but has spent most of his adult life overseas. He has lived in Japan for 9 years, Jamaica for 2 and spent almost 5 years as a US Merchant Mariner serving primarily in the Pacific. A long time auto and motorcycle enthusiast he has pursued his hobbies whenever possible. He also enjoys writing and public speaking where, according to his wife, his favorite subject is himself.

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China Enacts Euro 4 Emissions Standard, Beijing To Go A Notch Higher Thu, 26 May 2011 14:50:48 +0000

When we think of China, we think of massive pollution and CO2-belching cars. Get with the program. China moves ahead at warp speed, and so do emission standards. The China 4 emission standards will become mandatory for all cars sold across China from July 1st, says China Car Times. The Chinese 4 emission standard is pretty much the same as the strict Euro 4 standard (with Chinese characteristics and a separate certification regimen.)

Notoriously polluted Beijing had enacted Euro 4 before the Olympics in 2008. The effects of this and other pollution-fighting measures are remarkable. I can usually (except on days depicted in the video) see the stars at night from my place in Beijing. Before, I thought the only stars were on China’s flag. According to Xinhua, “Beijing will impose the national standard 5 for vehicle emission in 2012 ahead of schedule, which will be around the same time a similar standard is imposed in developed countries.”  According to official statistics of the German Kraftfahrtbundesamt, 43 percent of all cars on German roads complied with Euro 4 as of January 1 2011. On the same day, Euro 5 came in effect for new registrations all over Europe.

CCT thinks the new Euro 4 regulation could bump May car sales “as dealerships will be rushing to empty their stocks of Chinese 3 emission standard cars before the July 1st deadline.” It could be a foolish move. When Beijing went to Euro 4, it closed its roads to cars that did not comply. Out of town cars need a sticker that shows that they are in compliance, or need to submit to a roadside emission test before entering the city.

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Washington Bans Copper Brakes Tue, 20 Apr 2010 19:24:52 +0000

When friends of the automobile think about environmental regulation, our minds tend to tend to leap towards emissions. Between energy independence, air quality and the specter of global warming, a number of political agendas focus auto regulations on the tailpipe and drivetrain, driving a number of changes in the industry. But, as the AP reports, engines aren’t the only automotive components that impact the environment. The state of Washington has voted to ban brake pads with more than five percent copper content by 2021, making it the first state in the union to address the accumulation of heavy metals in groundwater through automotive regulation.

Brake pads are typically made of metal and composite compounds which are selected for their ability to dissipate kinetic energy as heat. Copper replaced asbestos as a major brake pad component element in the early 90s (typically composing up to one quarter of the brake pad compound by volume), when the carcinogenic insulating material was banned as a health hazard. The problem with copper is that the friction caused by braking causes tiny shavings of copper to separate from the brake pad, scattering trace amounts of the heavy metal across the landscape. This, say scientists, causes copper to accumulate in rivers and streams, where it wreaks havoc with the ecosystem.

Biologists are especially concerned about two specific copper-related toxicity problems. First, even small amounts of copper can interfere with salmon’s ability to smell, a crucial tool for survival. When young salmon are exposed to even moderate amounts of copper pollution, their sense of smell can be permanently harmed, making them more vulnerable to predators. Given the important role salmon plays in the economy of the Pacific Northwest, this is a risk that scientists and the business community are equally concerned about. Furthermore, copper is known to be toxic to plankton, which form the base of the marine ecosystem. Were copper levels to climb to a point where plankton started dying off, the impact could easily ripple through the entire coastal ecosystem, and permanently damage West Coast fisheries.

But to what extent are auto brakes responsible for copper accumulation in waterways? After all, brakes only release tiny amounts of copper over long periods of time, while copper remains a common element in pipes, paint and numerous other construction materials. Washington’s lawmakers cite a study by the nonprofit organization Sustainable Conservation, which found that up to a third of all copper pollution in the San Francisco Bay could be traced to copper from automotive brakes. Washington officials figure that about the same proportion of the 70,000 to 318,000 pounds of copper released into Puget Sound each year comes from brakes, meaning the law could eliminate between 25,000 and 105,000 pounds of copper pollution each year.

Best of all, the industry isn’t fighting the new Washington law. Unlike CAFE increases or other environmental regulations, this new law hasn’t been accompanied by wailing and gnashing of teeth from auto OEMs or brake supplier firms. Instead, at least one industry source has made peace with the new law:

The industry believes it can produce a safe and reasonably priced brake pad without copper, said Terry Heffelfinger, director of product engineering for Affinia Global Brake & Chassis, a major brake maker. One alternative may be ceramic brake pads, which have grown in popularity in recent years.

Let’s just hope these new compounds don’t raise costs the way a set of ceramic stoppers can send a Porsche’s price soaring. A reasonable ramp-up of copper-content standards will help the industry adapt, as it has until 2021 to cut copper down to five percent of brake pad content, a standard that many cars already meet. The law is supposed to ban all but trace amounts of copper from brake pads by 2023, but only if the industry is able to prove that it’s possible.

Though some decry regulation in all forms, this example seems to prove that common-sense regulation of the automobile’s environmental impact is possible when goals are reasonable, analysis is well-grounded in hard science, and the approach is cooperative. And if this law hastens the day when ceramic brake pads are no longer a ten-grand-plus option on only a few high-end performance cars, it will have spurred industry innovation as well. Plus, salmon is delicious. Win-win is never easy, but this law gets close.

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Canada Cash for Clunkers: CA$300 Mon, 02 Feb 2009 03:41:35 +0000

Three-hundred dollars Canadian is not a lot of money for a car that functions. But it buys you—well, the Canadian government—a lot of greenwashing. OK, some. “Retire Your Ride” pays the three bills for any currently registered Canadian car produced before 1996, “the year the government introduced more stringent emissions standards.” Canadian Driver dutifully reports, “These pre-1996 models produce about 19 times more air pollutants than newer cars and trucks.” Wow! Nineteen times! The Clean Air Foundation is in charge of sending any one of five million-ish eligible cars to the crusher, in exchange for CA$300 or discounts on public transit passes, bicycles or memberships in car sharing companies. As my father said to me on many memorable (if imminently lamentable) occasions, “How much is this boondoggle going to cost me?” This one, me, nothing. Canadian taxpayers, CA$92m. Canadian Driver saves the withering analysis for the end of their article, but it’s worth the wait…

Automotive analyst, Dennis Desrosiers, believes the plan is “a waste of time and energy and taxpayer money” and will fail because the amount being offered is too low. “Explain to me why a consumer with an asset worth at least a couple thousand dollars if not a lot more would turn it in for $300 bucks?” Desrosiers said. He pointed out that similar vehicle scrappage programs in Germany are offering over $4,000 for cars that are over nine years old.

Don’t you love it when government intervention doesn’t go far enough? No? Party pooper.

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