2014 has been a good year for the rental car industry. A recovering economy has meant more car rentals and more miles traveled by consumers. Volume alone isn’t responsible for the rental companies’ recent success, though. Each of the big three rental chains has been able to raise prices, thanks to the consolidation of an industry that they now collectively control 98% of.
Although we’ve covered CAFE and its effects on the new car market before, the launch of the Lexus NX provides us with an interesting example of just how far auto makers will go to have their offerings classified as “light trucks” under the U.S. regulatory scheme which incentivizes manufacturers to offer these sorts of vehicles beyond mere market forces.
The New York Times is reporting that the Obama administration’s proposed transportation bill would give the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration explicit authority to regulate in-vehicle navigation aids of all types. The regulations would not just apply to built in navigation systems as the legislation would also give NHTSA authority to regulate smartphone apps when used in a vehicle. While drivers and technology companies might object, the proposals have the endorsement of the major car companies who already comply with the agency’s voluntary guidelines for factory installed nav systems that restrict driver contact with those systems.
Representatives for the tech industry say that the legislation is not workable nor enforceable. “[Regulators] don’t have enough software engineers,” said Catherine McCullough, executive director of the Intelligent Car Coalition, a technology industry trade group. “They don’t have the budget or the structure to oversee both Silicon Valley and the auto industry.” (Read More…)
Much like it has in the United States, Uber and other ride-sharing services have upended the traditional taxi in Europe. Just like the U.S., taxi operators have protested the disruption the new services have caused upon them, citing the lack of properly licensed drivers and thoroughly maintained vehicles as a reason to bring them in line with the same regulations they already are mandated to follow. However, unlike the U.S., European taxi drivers took their complaints to the streets, and then some.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx told Automotive News that U.S. regulators will soon begin working on telematics regulations that will require new cars and light trucks sold in the United States to be equipped with systems for vehicle to vehicle communications. The impetus is safety, as the telematic systems can be integrated with semi-autonomous crash avoidance systems.
Foxx didn’t set a date when the mandate would become effective, but he made it clear that he supports the technology, calling it a “moon shot” and saying that it could prevent 70 to 80 percent of crashes involving drivers that are not impaired. (Read More…)
While the rest of the 5,200+ media-pass holders bounced from one laser light show to another, I and Raphael Orlove ( of Jalopnik) ventured north to cover a very different automotive event. There would be no makeup counter girls, no automaker swag and the coffee came from a vending machines not Italian espresso machine. We were headed to an automotive regulatory meeting that was scheduled to take place at the same time as the Acura reveal.
The Audi Q3 won’t be coming to the United States for a couple of years, according to Car and Driver. The issue stems from the Q3′s approach angle, which is not sufficient to be classified as a “light truck” in America. Why does this matter? Well, CAFE of course. Crossovers, as car like as they may be, are more beneficial for auto makers looking to meet CAFE standards, and Audi isn’t going to all this trouble to have the Q3 come over as a car.
The diesel powered version of the Mazda6 will be delayed until April of 2014 in the United States, and if you believe Mazda, the delay is meant “to accommodate final emissions testing and certification.” But prior reporting by TTAC on the matter shows that this is far from the only hiccup faced by Mazda with its oil burners.
This past Friday, Jack reported on Continental’s decision to remove its ATE Super Blue brake fluid from the market, citing its non-compliance with federal motor vehicle safety standards. Apparently, Super Blue ran afoul of regulations regarding the coloration of brake fluid in motor vehicles. It’s not clear exactly what led Continental to recall the product now after years on the market, but it’s obvious why: blue brake fluid is a no-go according to American regulators. As Jack pointed out, this apparent government overreach has cost consumers another choice that amateur racers in particular found useful. Commenters on that story debated the relative merits of regulating automotive fluid colors, in particular brake fluid. So just how regulated are fluid colors anyway, and do those regulations help or hurt consumers overall?
The Chinese Ministry of Environmental Protection’s rejection of BMW’s application to expand one of their factories is generating concern that global automaker will find it harder to win approval for their own Chinese projects.