Locked-down State Opens up Online Auto Sales, Nudging Industry in Direction of Recovery

Don’t expect the Present Year to come close to the sales tallies racked up in 2018 or the year before. No analyst foresees such a scenario; globally, LMC sees auto production taking a 20-percent haircut in 2020.

But the return to normality is underway in the U.S., aided by the federal government’s reopening plan (a set of guidelines to be acted on by individual states), but especially by the realization of governors that car buyers need some way to bring a vehicle home. Michigan, via an executive order, greenlit online sales on April 9th. Now it’s Pennsylvania’s turn.

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Easier Said Than Done: Restarting the Automotive Industry

As the global health crisis pivots toward becoming an economic one, the automotive industry is understandably eager to know when it can begin producing cars again. The situation isn’t going to be as easy as throwing open a few breaker boxes and giving the thumbs up. A mile-long list of problems, many of which lack easy answers, will first have to be tackled before things return to normal.

Supply chains will be slow to move — and potentially severed — as other nations wait longer to walk back social distancing measures. Not all factories will resume operation at the same time, and not all parts suppliers or shipping agencies will have made it through the coronavirus pandemic intact. It’s also uncertain how quickly customers will return to the market. In tougher financial times, customers may remain hesitant in making large purchases; meanwhile, localized quarantines will undoubtedly continue suppressing sales in certain markets. Then we have the elephant in the room — the vast amount of money this colossal reboot is going to require.

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Ordered Into Action: GM and Feds Announce Ventilator Deal

To its credit, General Motors was already preparing a foray into ventilator production when President Donald Trump invoked the Defense Production Act, locking the automaker into a pact to build truckloads of the life-saving equipment.

On Thursday, details of the no-profit deal became clear.

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Gas War: EPA and DOT Release Final Draft of Fuel Rollback

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.

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Trump Edges Closer to Invoking Defense Production Act

One should never pay too close attention to social media, but sadly, that’s where a lot of diplomacy takes place these days. Especially today.

Since dawn broke over the nation Friday, President Donald Trump has chastised General Motors and Ford for their perceived foot-dragging in getting much-needed ventilators into production, urging them to pick up the pace and suggesting that he might invoke the Defense Production Act — a wartime measure aimed at aligning industrial output with America’s immediate defense needs. In this case, the enemy is microscopic, but packs a punch.

We’re already on it, Ford and GM replied.

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The Law Comes for Ex-UAW Boss Gary Jones

Federal authorities have charged former United Auto Workers President Gary Jones with embezzling more than $1 million of union funds.

It’s the latest round of charges and the highest-profile target thus far in the ongoing investigation into corruption among the union’s upper ranks. A criminal information reveals Jones, who resigned as president last November, plans to plead guilty and cooperate with federal investigators.

Three of Jones’ former aides, all of whom were swept up in the corruption probe, provided assistance that led to today’s charges. The former UAW boss was one of several top execs who prosecutors say diverted union funds towards lavish living and toys.

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NTSB: Autopilot Partly to Blame for Fatal Tesla Crash; Video Game Was Playing on Driver's Phone

A report from the National Transportation Safety Board concludes that a fallible driver-assist system, and the driver’s overreliance on it, were the main causes of a fatal March 2018 crash on US-101 in Mountain View, California.

The violent crash of a Tesla Model X that killed a 38-year-old Apple software engineer is a perfect example of both Silicon Valley excess and the teething troubles facing our tech-obsessed world.

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'It's Still a Pig': Colorado Dealers Association Cold on Direct Sales Model, But Rivian Sees Promise There and Beyond

With production of its R1T pickup scheduled to commence later this year, upstart EV maker Rivian is aiming to get its products into as many states as possible, even if it means challenging dealer franchise laws. Following the R1T’s debut, the R1S three-row SUV will arrive to bolster Rivian’s emissions-free game.

In Colorado, where a bill seeking to allow direct sales via OEM-owned stores cleared a Senate committee last week, Rivian hopes to secure a victory — then replicate it in other protectionist states.

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Get Busy Logging, German Court Tells Tesla

Tesla won its day in German court Thursday, with the Berlin-Brandenburg judiciary brushing aside an injunction that halted the clearing of 92 hectares (227 acres) of forest. The electric automaker needed those woods gone in order to build a new assembly plant serving European customers.

Unfortunately for Tesla, opposition came in the form of environmentalists who, for some reason, didn’t like the idea of paving paradise to build an electric car factory. While the logging can now continue, Tesla still doesn’t have the go-ahead to built the massive Gigafactory itself.

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UK Expedites the Internal Combustion Car's Death Sentence

The clock’s ticking, Britain. You have 15 years.

In a bid to firm up its environmental cred, the UK has announced its intention to move up its planned ban on internal combustion vehicle sales from 2040 to 2035. In a country with a rising population and a declining amount of power generation, the move should have a few people pulling out their hair.

Especially those who make their living building cars.

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Fresh Lordstown Product Bound for Detroit

No, General Motors hasn’t snatched back its mothballed Lordstown, Ohio assembly plant and restarted production of the Chevrolet Cruze. Clearly, those angry letters from yours truly fell on deaf ears.

Instead, the plant’s new owner, Lordstown Motors, will reveal the model it hopes to build at the former GM site at this summer’s Detroit auto show. Before homegrown electric pickups can roll out of the plant, however, Lordstown first needs cash.

That’s where the feds come in.

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Driving Dystopia: License Plate Readers Are Becoming Increasingly Common

Policing a population is expensive. Law enforcement departments around the globe have long sought a way to tamp down costs or, more often, find better forms of supplemental revenue. Unfortunately, sending the SWAT team on a raid or hiring additional officers to patrol the highway for speeders costs money. But the price of surveillance technology continues to go down, encouraging agencies to tap into their rather robust capabilities — potentially at our expense.

China, the world leader in mass government surveillance, already has the ability to use its vast network of cameras to take over all manner of on-the-street policing. Electronic eyes are everywhere, often networked to facial recognition or plate identification technologies that enable authorities to mail you a ticket for speeding, jaywalking, or whatever else the patrolman failed to see you do in person. While some of the penalties stop at being publicly shamed via a national database or having your social credit score dropped (potentially barring you from some goods and services), these systems have also increased the number of finable offenses that make departments money.

While similar systems have been available in the United States, it seems the country’s penchant for liberty has drastically slowed their implementation. Yet it’s still happening, and there’s reason to suggest items like license plate readers and facial recognition software will soon become standard equipment for many (if not most) North American police departments.

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Lucky Break: All Northern Ireland Car Owners Get a Pass on Safety Tests After Test Centers Deemed…Unsafe

Northern Ireland has called off all mandated MoT inspections of passenger vehicles after it discovered that its state-run test centers are in worse condition than many of the cars undergoing testing.

It’s a black eye for the Driver & Vehicle Agency, the body tasked with ensuring vehicles meet road safety and environmental standards, but it’s a lucky reprieve for drivers fearing an upcoming test. DVA boss Paul Duffy called the situation “hugely embarrassing.”

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Senate Approves USMCA Trade Deal Replacing NAFTA

The U.S. Senate approved changes to the North American Free Trade Agreement on Thursday, effectively replacing the 26-year-old deal with the new United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement. USMCA embraces stronger automotive content rules for the region, updates language for new technologies, and enacts sweeping labor protections aimed at uplifting the Mexican workforce. As a byproduct, it’s also likely to discourage automakers from isolating themselves south of the U.S. border in an effort to secure cheap labor.

Passing with a 89-10 vote in the Republican-controlled Senate, USMCA also allows President Donald Trump to keep his campaign promise of replacing NAFTA — a pact he often referred to as “the worst deal in history.”

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Opinion: It's Past Time for a Tesla Autopilot Recall

The evidence keeps stacking up against Tesla. As the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration investigates crash after crash involving Tesla vehicles under the influence (or suspected influence) of Autopilot, when is enough too much?

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  • ToolGuy 404 error on the product link. Which probably isn't terrific marketing on TTAC's part. https://thinkwarestore.com/product/f200-pro-ca
  • ToolGuy Second picture: Do you like pegboard storage? (I don't.)
  • ToolGuy "WHAT???"(old 'I was in the artillery' joke)
  • ToolGuy Oh and this.
  • ToolGuy "The boroughs of Bexley, Bromley, Hillingdon, and Harrow have likewise announced plans to take legal action to force a possible judicial review..."But: "In Hartford, Hereford, and Hampshire... Hurricanes hardly happen."