The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is considering increasing penalties for automakers that fail to meet fuel-efficiency requirements. Though this could be considered a restoration of older standards, depending upon your perspective.
Shortly before leaving office, President Donald Trump postponed a regulation from the last days of the Obama administration that would have effectively doubled fines for vehicle manufacturers failing to meet Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) requirements. Automakers had been complaining that the rule would have dramatically increased operating costs, suggesting that would trickle down to vehicle pricing and give manufacturers selling carbon credits an unfair advantage.
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.
You know the world is a bit upside-down when master wordsmith Jack Baruth spins a web so tight in favor of the EPA and CARB that even the Best and Brightest can’t see through it.
Jack makes a valid point today: light-duty trucks, especially those of the diesel variety, are often driven by people who don’t need the capability that those trucks provide. It’s those diesel pickups that spew tons of particulates and NOx into the atmosphere, both of which are harmful to human health. Goodbye, he says to the light-duty diesel truck, before we turn into Europe. Turbo-fed gasoline engines offer just as much torque as their diesel-powered brethren, he exclaims. There’s no need to buy an $80,000 phallus extender. What do you think of this twin-turbo V6 Raptor?
However, Mr. Baruth stopped just short of saying recreational use of light-duty diesel trucks should be outright banned, instead offering up a solution that’s analogous to gun control.
The Beijing Motor Show begins next week, but Buick couldn’t wait a minute longer.
At yesterday’s 2016 Buick Day event in Shanghai (was there a parade?), the automaker rolled out its LaCrosse Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV), a model tailor-made for the Chinese market.
China loves Buicks, and Buick loves them right back, so much so that the U.S. will get a Chinese-made model this fall. The LaCrosse HEV is part of General Motors’ plan to foist as many vehicles on China as possible.
After staying relatively clean in the ongoing diesel emissions scandal that’s keeping European automakers up at night, Mercedes-Benz now finds itself the potential target of an Environmental Protection Agency investigation, Automotive News Europe reports.
The EPA’s request for information targets the nitrous oxide emissions of the company’s Bluetec diesel engines, and comes less than two weeks after a class-action lawsuit was filed by law firm Hagens Berman (of General Motors ignition switch fame).
Yes, that sound you’re hearing is executives loosening their collars in Stuttgart.
In its ongoing effort to clear the air in its major cities, the Chinese government has plans to throw 5.33 million non-compliant vehicles into the crusher by the end of 2014.
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