The U.S. Senate is currently considering a $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill that’s primarily targeting the ailing highway system, with tens of billions left over to spend on advancing the nation’s EV charging infrastructure and incorporating more eco-friendly modes of public transportation. But there’s also some really kooky shit that you need to be made aware of before this passes into law.
Along with new regulations that would mandate the inclusion of collision detection systems and automatic emergency braking, where the car calls your bluff and applies the wheel-stoppers independently of your actions, provisions have been made that would also require some kind of in-car breathalyzer. The stated aim is to reduce incidents of drunk driving. However, the proposed system may also include driver-monitoring cameras, totally undermining any nobility the cause might otherwise have had.
Last week, New Hampshire became the first state to grant flying cars access to public roadways, despite the fact that they don’t currently exist.
That said, House Bill 1182 only references “roadable aircraft,” with an aim to establish a commission to study the on-road usage of non-traditional motor vehicles. While flying cars remain anchored to our collective imagination, airplanes that can be rigged to drive on public roads technically already exist.
New Hampshire is just attempting to give them some leeway via the bill while also slipping in some new laws making it easier to revoke licenses if someone ever refuses to take a blood test, as well as withholding motor vehicle registration renewal privileges to anybody found driving in a “manner that evades toll collection.” There are also numerous revisions to construction projects related to tolling within the state. You didn’t think Bill 1182 would just be about establishing inspection and registration requirements for flying cars, did you?
Representative Debbie Dingell (D-MI) introduced new legislation on Wednesday in a bid to improve the uptake of electric vehicles in the United States. The bill, known as the USA Electrify Forward Act, would appropriate $2 billion annually for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Incentive Program between 2021 and 2035.
Dingell cited a May 2019 AAA survey that reported just 16 percent of Americans as saying they would consider an electric vehicle for their next automotive purchase, claiming something needs to be done address EV pricing, repair costs, and range. The primary focus of the bill is to help in the development and manufacturing of advanced battery technologies and anything else that might help get more Americans into EVs.
With many concerned that the public’s modest adoption of electric vehicles could backslide without a federal tax incentive, U.S. lawmakers introduced legislation on Wednesday to expand the EV tax credit by 400,000 vehicles per manufacturer.
This would help companies that have already exhausted their quota, like Tesla and General Motors, but even automakers that are nowhere near their current allowance would have something to gain — a wider window in which to sell alternative-energy vehicles with governmental help.
Called the “Driving America Forward Act,” the legislation would grant automakers a $7,000 tax credit for an additional 400,000 vehicles and shorten the depletion/phase-out schedule to nine months. However, the existing deal of 200,000 vehicles per automaker eligible for $7,500 tax credit would also remain intact, resulting in a pretty big allowance for government incentives.
Bipartisan legislation to “promote the safe development of autonomous vehicles” is currently being held up by a trio of Democrats, according to U.S. Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John Thune. While much of Congress is hoping to push the AV START Act through, Sen. Dianne Feinstein and two colleagues have blocked unanimous consent — stalling the bill’s swift progress by forcing a floor vote.
Thune, who sponsors Senate Bill 1,885, told reporters he hoped Feinstein and the other Democrats would see the light. “We could save a lot of lives,” Thune said, adding that 94 percent of car crashes are caused by human error. “It is cutting-edge technology, transformational in terms of the economy.”
However, the opposition isn’t convinced autonomous vehicles are at a point where it’s safe to roll them out en masse on public roads.
Florida lawmakers are pushing a new bill that would make it illegal to have your car stolen if you haven’t bothered to take the keys out of the ignition. While accidentally prepping a car for prospective thieves is easily one of the dumbest things you can do, making it illegal to leave it running while you pop in to buy a pack of gum sets us up for a nice slippery slope argument.
Last week, State Representative Wengay Newton and Senator Perry Thurston introduced matching proposals (House Bill 927 and Senate Bill 1112) that would make leaving your car unattended without stopping the engine, locking the ignition, and removing the key a second-degree misdemeanor. Under the Florida statute, the crime would be punishable with a $500 fine and up to 60 days in jail.
Two proposals for reforms to how the U.S. handles safety recalls and penalizes automakers are winding through a Senate committee.
A proposal backed by three Senate Democrats would make automakers include a recall warning light in the dashboard of new cars to notify owners of a safety recall and lift the cap on delayed recall fines and more. A less-aggressive proposal put forward by Republicans would require dealers to notify owners if their cars have been recalled, something most automakers already do but aren’t required by law.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that 25 percent of recalls are never completed.
Ride-sharing service Uber has hit a few rough patches as of late, mainly from taxi operators and city and state officials who believe Uber and others like it are too disruptive for its own good. However, the Teamsters — who supported European taxi drivers in their protest of the service earlier this month — are throwing their support to Uber drivers wishing to organize.
Foreign suppliers could produce the final nail in the coffin of struggling Saab, the head of a European supplier association fears. “I think that the patience has more or less run out,” Lars Holmqvist, CEO of CLEPA, the European Association of Automotive Suppliers, said to Swedish news agency TT [via The Local]
Foreign suppliers “probably have less feeling for Saab than many Swedish companies which have grown up with Saab in a different way. Many also have a personal connection to Saab because they might have driven one at some point in their life. But the foreign suppliers are tougher,” Holmqvist, himself a Swede, told TT.
Yesterday, Spyker CEO Muller said everything is peachy. Saab “is not on the verge of collapse,” Muller said to a rapt audience of reporters, while, as Reuters snidely remarked, “Saab was presenting new vehicles already shown at the Geneva auto show.” Muller promised that “a small glitch does not change the fact that cars are being made,” and that Saab would have the widest and newest range in its history next year. This year? No problem at all. Just that output would be more weighted towards the second half of the year. Which in itself would be a miracle, and outpacing the competition, because in Europe, auto sales are more weighted towards the first half of the year. This was yesterday. Now is today.
While other manufacturers have problems getting parts, Saab has problems getting parts. But for different reasons.
“Production at Saab stopped for a second day on Wednesday as the money-losing automaker faces payment problems with its suppliers,” reports Automotive News [sub]. They add that Saab said it will start production again on Thursday, after money problems have been settled. According to the Automotive News report, Saab made a very inadvisable move: They did not pay their shipping company.