Category: Government

By on December 3, 2020

The Japan Broadcasting Corporation, better known as NHK, reported that the island nation is considering banning new internal combustion engine cars by the mid-2030s this week. While we will continue to maintain that such an effort seems unrealistic when confronting the current realities of the market, Japan’s alleged plan offers a bit more leeway than proposals pitched in parts of Europe and North America. Nippon also finds itself in a better position in the preferred mixed approach of allowing mixed powertrains, which would allow the industry to continue production gasoline-driven hybrids.

For starters, the Asian country has a fairly comprehensive hydrogen fueling network thanks to its small size. It’s also in a position that would make nationwide EV charging more feasible than regions with plenty of wide-open spaces. But automakers aren’t making a peep on the issue, preferring to leave it up to regulators and the market.

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By on December 2, 2020

Volvo Cars’ chief executive, Håkan Samuelsson, believes a ban on gasoline-driven vehicles would be a more effective way to force groups to go electric than continuing to offer subsidies on battery-powered automobiles. The announcement comes as part of the Financial Times’ “Future of the Car Summit,” where Samuelsson will proclaim the internal combustion engine “a technology of the past.”

In related news, Volvo Cars is also in negotiations to merge with China’s Geely Automotive and has renewed its commitment toward becoming an electric-only brand by 2030. The latter issue will also be brought up during Wednesday’s Car Summit, with the CEO praising the United Kingdom’s promise to eliminate the sale of new gasoline and diesel cars that same year.

What miraculously convenient timing.

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By on December 1, 2020

The Ford Motor Company is asking automakers to join it in supporting Californian vehicle emissions targets aimed at supplanting the rollback that was supposed to become the national standard. General Motors has already abandoned its support of the Trump rollbacks, which offered concessions to appease environmental groups but ultimately targeted more lax fueling regulation while seeking to eliminate California’s ability to self regulate as a way to curb its influence. But industry leaders are under the impression that a President Biden would attempt to swiftly transmission back to Obama-era regulatory targets or simply adopt the California model that’s been at odds with the national standards established by the Trump administration.

Considering how aggressive the Biden-Harris energy/environmentalism platform is, it certainly seems a plausible scenario and certain automotive executives feel that it would be best to go into 2021 aligned and supportive. The matter is even scheduled to be brought forward during Tuesday’s virtual auto trade association meeting.

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By on November 24, 2020

The General Services Administration (GSA), responsible for managing services for federal agencies, issued a five-year federal contract to Uber and Lyft. Confirmed by Veronica Juarez, Lyft’s vice president of social enterprise and government, on Monday, the deal estimated to be worth somewhere in the neighborhood of $810 million and allows the ride-hailing firms to offer public agencies a direct line to their transportation services.

While federal employees have always been able to utilize the services, the new arrangement makes them semi-compulsory for some of the millions of government employees involved. Meanwhile, Uber and Lyft can now work directly with officials to promote their services. With the recent passing of California’s Prop 22, which issued special legal protections to ride-hailing companies, the duo seemed to be experiencing a run of good fortune late in the year. That doesn’t guarantee that they’ll suddenly become profitable entities. But they could be with sufficient government support — which seems increasingly likely for reasons we’re about to dive into.

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By on November 20, 2020

Safety regulators with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said they were opening formal regulatory proceedings to establish new safety standards for autonomous vehicles on Thursday. However, before the NHTSA can get into proposing new rules that will influence how cars that can control themselves will be handled by the U.S. government, it wants citizens to offer their two cents.

We’re talking specifically about Levels 3-5 of automation as defined by SAE, meaning cars that could someday be sold without steering wheels or any other means to take control of the vehicle yourself. It’s something industrial lobbyists with the Alliance for Automotive Innovation (AAI) already have a roadmap for and plan on sharing with the NHTSA soon. Based on the group’s previous initiatives, we imagine it’ll be advocating the government leave as much control in the hands of manufacturers as possible. But you’ll have a limited window to weigh in on that position (or, better yet, share your own) while regulators have an open request for public comment.

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By on November 17, 2020

On Monday, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced it would be upgrading a probe into almost 159,000 Tesla Model S and Model X vehicles relating to touchscreen/memory issues that could result in a failure to comply with federal standards.

U.S. regulatory mandates stipulate that modern vehicles be required to have rear-camera displays to aid drivers traveling in reverse. The expanded investigation has tripled in size and now encompasses 2012-2018 model year Tesla Model S and 2016-2018 Model X vehicles, which may be eligible for a recall if the NHTSA sees fit.

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By on November 17, 2020

If you think the political class is interested in what kind of policies citizens would like to see implemented, you’ve clearly never heard of lobbying groups. While we’re stuck at home writing thoughtful letters to congressional interns in the faintest hope that they’ll be dictated to a senator, corporately supported lobbyists are taking legislators out to dinner so they can discuss how best to govern on a single issue. They’re important in determining the trajectory of the nation but many get criticized for placing the needs of the business over that of the individual voter.

Buckle up, because we’re getting another one. On Tuesday, the Zero Emission Transportation Association (ZETA) held its own coming-out party and announced its mission to advocate for “national policies that will enable 100 [percent] electric vehicle sales throughout the light-, medium-, and heavy-duty sectors by 2030.”

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By on November 16, 2020

On Monday, the Canadian province of Quebec announced it would be joining California and numerous European locales in the banning of gasoline-powered automobiles. Announced during a meeting regarding the region’s green economy plan, the French-speaking province said all new vehicles sold after 2035 would have to be entirely electric. Then there was a slight derailment as Premier François Legault used the occasion to publicly decry that it was “totally unacceptable” that some shop owners in Montreal are failing to greet customers in French and that the situation needed to be remedied immediately. Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante agreed, saying “clients must be able to get served in French. Period.”

One battle at a time, heroes. Justice will be served (and in glorious French) to those English-speaking heathens and their foul-smelling cars soon enough.

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By on November 13, 2020

While multiple states launch mandatory election recounts and President Trump throws around lawsuits like confetti Joe Biden and the mainstream media are preparing for his ascension from regular old man to Leader of the Free World — though that title doesn’t seem to get much play these days. Biden has already started holding meetings with foreign leaders and experts on how to go about heading the United States. Apparently, there’s even been some progress on how to govern the nation.

On Thursday, California Air Resources Board (CARB) Chairwoman Mary Nichols said the state’s arrangement with major automakers over fuel efficiency requirements would be ideal for the presumed Biden administration — which has promised to implement some of the most ambitious emissions standards the world has ever seen. Nichols also expressed excitement at the possibility of heading the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under a Biden presidency and is reportedly under serious consideration for the position.

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By on November 10, 2020

german flag and reichstag

Germany is eager to see the United States abolish trade barriers implemented by President Donald Trump now that it looks like Joe Biden has won the 2020 election. While that could all be undone by the sudden influx of legal actions taken by the Trump campaign as presumptive evidence of election impropriety streams in, Germany would still like to get the ball rolling on trade with the Democrats.

The nation’s automotive industry is petitioning leadership in the U.S. and European Union to align technical/regulatory standards and minimize the existing trade barriers. The German Association of the Automotive Industry (Verband der Automobilindustrie) or VDA has already endorsed the proposal with the lobby group’s president confirming its position in a recent webcast hosted by the Frankfurt business media club ICFW (Internationale Club Frankfurter Wirtschaftsjournalisten).

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By on November 5, 2020

Independent repair shops and aftermarket parts retailers have been pitted against major automakers and their dealer networks in Massachusetts for years. The state has served as the primary battleground for right-to-repair legislation that would permit/prohibit customers and independent entities from working on or modifying vehicles. However, a major victory came on Tuesday after voters overwhelmingly approved a ballot measure updating existing right-to-repair laws to give vehicle owners and small shops better access to vehicle data typically reserved for industry giants.

The resulting decision gives consumers substantially more control over what’s done with the data being harvested by the industry (often without their knowledge) and frees up their options on who to go to when their vehicle needs fixing.

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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 May 20, 2020

Every time we think the United States’ fueling fracas had concluded, something new emerges to remind us that we’re utter morons. Despite the Trump administration finally wrapping up the fuel rollback of Obama-era emission standards on March 31st, Senator Tom Carper (D-DE) has sent another letter asking Environmental Protection Agency Inspector General Sean O’Donnell to look into the new rules.

Carper asked the inspector general last February to conduct an investigation into “potentially unlawful efforts and procedural problems” stemming from their implementation. His assertion is that the EPA was circumventing various procedural requirements and attempted to hide data that would have conflicted with some of the rollback’s claimed benefits.

Did it?
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By on March 31, 2020

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released their final version of the Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient (SAFE) Vehicles Rules on Tuesday. This will establish new targets for corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) and emissions standards for passenger vehicles from the 2021-2026 model years and just in the nick of time. The document had to be completed by April 1st, in order to leave sufficient time for the coming model year.

If you’ve been following the long and arduous process that brought us here, you’ll notice the document has changed slightly from previous drafts. The rollback still enacts the straightening of emission regulations but reels them back from the lofty goals set by the Obama administration. Annual increases in fuel efficiency standards will be set at 1.5 percent through 2026. Previous drafts had the Trump administration freezing efficiency requirements at 2020 levels.  Read More >

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