Category: Green

By on July 17, 2020

Earlier this week, presumed Democratic nominee for president and former shut-in Joe Biden discussed some of the changes he’d make if elected. While most do not overlap with the automotive industry and would force your author to digress into rants about the perils of unchecked government spending, one item tied to his ambitious $2 trillion climate proposal is related directly to cars — and feels uncomfortably familiar.

Biden appears interested in bringing back the Car Allowance Rebate System (aka Cash for Clunkers) from the last recession, or at least a version 2.0 that accelerates electric vehicle adoption and development inside the United States.  Read More >

By on June 23, 2020

On Monday, Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak announced that his state will embrace California-crafted emissions rules that are at odds with the national rollback finalized by the Trump administration in March.

Officially, Sisolak said the rules would not require residents to abandon their current ride “or choose one that does not work for their lifestyle or business needs.” Nevada has, however, decided to adopt higher mpg standards, as well as the Golden State’s zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) rules that require manufacturers to sell a certain number of electric or plug-in hybrid models each year based on the total number of vehicles sold within the state.

Companies in compliance accrue ZEV credits, which can then be traded or sold to other manufacturers for money. As with the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) system, those that cannot hit their targets (or afford to buy up credits) will be fined. Tesla actually used such arrangements to make $594 million off its rivals in 2019, with the prospect of things only getting more lucrative for the all-electric brand.  Read More >

By on June 18, 2020

On Wednesday, ride-hailing company Lyft announced every vehicle using its platform will be electric by 2030. Since its fleet is comprised primarily of contractors using private vehicles, one might assume the company is planning to offer some financial assistance upon their next purchase. But being sensible rarely means being correct in the postmodern era.

Rather than encouraging its own drivers to make the switch, Lyft plans to work with NGOs, lawmakers, and pressure its industry rivals to make electrification mainstream. Obviously, this will include financial incentives for organizations willing to make the switch to EVs in exchange for a fat wad of cash. That’s what you’re now supposed to focus on. Ignore that Lyft’s announcement literally offers no personal commitment and passes every scrap of responsibility it pretends to be taking on to the government.

Lyft is trying to play the hero, and thinking about it too hard is going to muck everything up.  Read More >

By on June 3, 2020

Indianapolis’ electric car-sharing program, BlueIndy, died in May. Failed green initiatives are fairly common these days, but they remain an important exercise in finding out what works and what doesn’t in order for progress to be made. Unfortunately, that doesn’t preclude host cities from having to deal with the aftermath — and Indiana’s capitol now needs to decide what’s to be done with the EVs and their stations.

BlueIndy lasted four years, with the company announcing it was forced to cease operations because it “did not reach the level of activity required to be economically viable.” The plan was to provide an eco-friendly alternative to car ownership, though Indy citizens seemed less eager than their leadership. This has left the city with dozens of small, relatively new EVs waiting to be crushed and roughly 90 charging stations it has no idea what to do with.

Naturally, it’s asking for advice.  Read More >

By on December 27, 2019

Next year, the European Union plans to adopt aggressive new rules that would see automakers fined if their total annual vehicle sales exceed predetermined carbon limits. Obviously automakers aren’t thrilled with the new fines and higher emission mandates, but France is facing additional criticism for its decision to take things a step further.

France’s parliament has adopted a new law penalizing cars that emit carbon dioxide above a certain threshold while still adhering to EU regulations. Vehicles failing to adhere to the French rules will be subject to a 20,000 euros ($22,240) tax in 2020, nearly twice the current fine. Meanwhile, the country is mulling the possibility of culling EV incentives — an odd move, considering its aim to transition its populace to zero-emission vehicles. Read More >

By on December 11, 2019

The European Union has approved a 3.2 billion-euro fund to promote the research and development of battery technology, with cash pouring in from Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Poland and Sweden. While Brussels has been on an electrification push ever since Europe fell out of love with diesel, now may not be the best time to double down on EVs.

We recently covered China’s ailing automotive market, noting the poor performance of new energy vehicles (which fell by at least 40 percent vs the previous November). We’ve also covered a survey showing how eager the nation’s consumer base appeared to be to purchase them, with both writer and readership wondering how reliable those figures actually were. Our collective dubiousness appears to have been valid. Despite being the top region for EV sales, new data from Bernstein Research claims about 70 percent of the 1.2 million electric or gasoline-electric hybrid models sold in China over the past year went directly to government or corporate fleets. When the government started removing subsidies, sales plummeted with little private interest to soften the impact.

Europe may be on a vaguely similar path. While worldwide EV sales are up about 13 percent through October, sales in North America are down 2 percent (at 301,000 deliveries), with Europe rising 37 percent (to 395,000). That’s partially due to European cities being closer together (with more charging points between them), though most EU member states also offer various electric vehicle purchasing incentives and tax exemptions. They’ve likewise adopted stricter environmental rules that make EVs more appetizing to own in the future.  Read More >

By on October 29, 2019

Ford Motor Co, Honda Motor Co, BMW Group and Volkswagen AG announced a voluntary deal with California in July — drawing a line in the sand for who they’ll be supporting in the fueling fracas taking place between the Golden State and White House. Meanwhile, the Trump administration’s rollback proposal — which intends on freezing automotive emission standards at 2020 levels through 2026 — saw no such support. But the cavalry seems to have finally arrived after sitting on the sidelines during the battle’s opening maneuvers.

General Motors, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Toyota, Mazda, Nissan, Kia, and Subaru all sided against California in a filing with a U.S. appeals court from Monday night. While they’re not setting any economy targets, they are collectively firm on the issue of the state’s ability to self regulate. A large portion of the industry wants a single national standard, not individual states setting their own benchmarks while they attempt to catch up with product.  Read More >

By on September 17, 2019

Thousands of people amassed in Germany over the weekend to protest the automotive industry. Ground Zero was in Frankfurt, with an estimated 15,000-25,000 people marching past the Frankfurt Motor Show holding signs condemning the internal combustion motor and promoting environmental awareness. Dozens of people also made it onto the trade show to demand the event be shut down or reformatted to focus entirely on eco-friendly transportation.

Sport-utility vehicles and crossovers were also a focal point of activist ire. Many called for their banishment from German cities after four pedestrians, including a three-year-old boy, were fatally struck by a Porsche Macan earlier this month in Berlin. However, the segment’s slightly higher dependance upon fuel was also a sore spot for many activists.

“Such tank-like cars do not belong in cities,” Stephan von Dassel, Green politician, bicycle enthusiast, and mayor of Berlin’s Mitte district, tweeted in German. “They are ‘climate killers’, even without accidents, every driving error becomes a life-threatening danger for innocent people.”  Read More >

By on June 28, 2019

A recent study from consulting firm AlixPartners has suggested that automakers could be in for a financial ass kicking of epic proportions. As it turns out, reaching emission quotas is a difficult business and the European Union wants 95 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometer by 2021. The study suggests few automakers are on track to reach that goal and, as a result, will be forced to pay out sizable fines. We’re talking billions.

Can you guess which manufacturers are supposed to get hit the hardest?

Here’s a hint: we’ve discussed one of them having similar issues in the United States earlier this year and both of their names are in the title of this article.  Read More >

By on January 11, 2018

2020 Porsche Mission E Concept - Image: Porsche

Porsche is apparently working on a new supercar platform for itself. However, both Audi and Lamborghini are said to be able to get in on the action, too. The platform is an entirely electric one, dubbed SPE, and it’s to be part of Volkswagen Group’s “third-wave” shift towards a fully electrified fleet.

However, the platform’s existence was only officially mentioned in VW’s capital markets presentation from November. The report shows SPE coming into play after the solidification of the initial MEB platform and the establishment of VW’s PPE (Premium Platform Electric) architecture — intended for luxury segment models after 2021. As the third phase of the group’s electrification strategy, SPE-based vehicles likely won’t enter production until 2025.  Read More >

By on September 11, 2017

Image: Workhorse W-15, by Corey Lewis

As part of National Drive Electric Week, the Cincinnati-based Workhorse Group displayed their prototype W-15 EV pickup truck at the local Cincinnati event. TTAC got some more information on the future of this pickup, as well as a turn behind the wheel.

Come have a look.

Read More >

By on March 23, 2017

Toyota Mirai Clean Billboard, [Image: Toyota North America]

Toyota is teaming up with Clear Channel Outdoor Americas to help clean California’s air with a billboard advertising its hydrogen-powered Mirai fuel cell sedan.

From April 3 to May 28, a total of 37 billboards in Los Angeles and San Francisco will filter smoggy air, thanks to the titanium dioxide-coated vinyl used in the sign.

While Toyota missed an opportunity to explicitly rub salt in a certain rival’s wounds, this is nonetheless a pleasant change of scenery in the automotive world, especially considering all of the Volkswagen emissions scandals of the past couple of years. Read More >

By on November 25, 2016

Morrissey

In a letter addressed to General Motors CEO Mary Barra, renowned complainer singer Morrissey requested that the company offer vegan leather interiors for the Chevrolet Volt and upcoming Bolt EV. The request is part of a PETA campaign aimed at curbing leather production, helping electric car buyers enjoy all of the pleasures associated with animal skin seats without any of the guilt.

However, it turns out that General Motors already had something in the works.

Read More >

By on October 11, 2016

2015 Nissan LEAF
Suppose an automaker improved a terrible-selling vehicle but didn’t bother to tell anyone about it. Chances are they didn’t just forget, so there has to be some fundamental reasoning behind that choice. This is the mystery Nissan has left us with after silently and suddenly replacing the battery in their base model Leaf with a larger one.

We only know about this change due to an eagle-eyed staff member at Green Car Reports, who noticed that Nissan increased the size of the Leaf S battery in a September order guide.
Read More >

By on July 18, 2016

3rd Generation Toyota Prius HEV Battery, Image: Toyota

Many industry reporters and enthusiasts attached stigma to early mass market hybrids because of the unknown reliability of their batteries. Potential owners worried that a failed battery would stick them with an expensive, out-of-warranty repair bill.

The first generation of hybrid vehicles hit the streets right around the turn of the century, right at the same time the domestic market was in love with SUVs. Anecdotes abounded about how dangerous and expensive hybrids would be to fix and maintain. Now that they’ve been on the road for over a decade, data shows — for the most part — there was no reason to fear these electrified fuel sippers.

Read More >

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