The Trump administration has reportedly expressed an interest in deciding where and how automotive manufacturers do their business if they want to secure duty-free deals under the United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement (USMCA) that’s positioned to replace NAFTA. According to Bloomberg, there’s currently a discussion taking place between administration officials, congressional staff, and domestic and foreign automakers regarding the context of the legislation that lawmakers will ultimately have to vote on. The White House is said to want highly specific language that would allow it to select production rules unilaterally.
Considering how messy things have gotten with China, it could be useful to have extremely clear trade language and some direct oversight of businesses with global interests. But critics are worried the strategy could bring U.S. trade policy closer to the rigid policies already in place in the People’s Republic — a country America has attempted to distance itself from due to its ludicrous levels of government intervention.
The real fear is that the government could use this to give one manufacturer better treatment than another — cutting it a sweet deal for building in a politically advantageous area, for example. While plausible, we can’t confirm something that’s largely speculative.
On Thursday, Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) proposed a $454 billion plan aimed at converting the United States from a gasoline-powered nation to one driven primarily by electricity. Under the 10-year plan, automotive consumers would get rebates ranging from $3,000 to over $5,000 (based on efficiency), plus another $2,000 for low-income buyers, for the purchase of electric vehicles made in America.
“This proposal to bring clean cars to all of America will be a key component of the far-reaching climate legislation from Senate Democrats, and I’m proud it has a broad coalition of support,” the senior senator said in a statement.
Much like the haphazard way Schumer insists on wearing glasses at the outermost tip of his nose, begging for gravity to take them, his plan has us mildly concerned.
It’s certainly taking this fuel economy rollback proposal we’ve heard so much about a long time to evolve into its final form. Unfortunately, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler has indicated more changes could be needed before a final draft can be released. However, in a bit of a twist, he’s now claiming the proposal will actually be more rigorous than preexisting mandates. Kind of.
“In some of the out years, we’re actually more restrictive on CO2 emissions than the Obama proposal was,” Wheeler told a crowd at the Detroit Economic Club this week.
Chicago is considering sticking ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft with a new tax that would add a few bucks onto each ride. Mayor Lori Lightfoot has proposed a $40-million-per-year tax increase as part of a broader traffic plan modeled after London’s famous congestion fines. That means not all rides would be subject to the same fees, but each trip taken within the city would still cost a little extra.
While congestion charges are all the rage in Europe, they’re uncommon in the United States. New York City recently decided to financially penalize every driver taking a trip below 60th Street (something I’m not thrilled about), positioning Chicago as the second major metropolitan area in the U.S. to move forward on congestion fees. Lightfoot claims it’s a necessary first step “to improve mobility and further our goals of ensuring sustainable, affordable and reliable access to transportation options in every neighborhood.”
Tax credits are a great way to stimulate purchases or participation, and in the politician’s mind, they often take precedence over affordability measures that would benefit broader swathes of society. That being said, they’re here to say… unless you’re referring to the slowly vanishing federal EV tax credit.
Automakers like Tesla and General Motors are already watching their $7,500 credits halve, then halve again, after surpassing the 200,000-vehicle threshold that starts the countdown to a credit phase-out. Now, the Treasury Department is claiming some recipients of the eco stimulus shouldn’t have received it in the first place.
California has gained additional support from two Democratic governors in the gas war. On Tuesday, New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham announced her state would adopt new tailpipe greenhouse gas and zero-emission vehicle requirements starting in the 2022 model year. The following day, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz directed his state to do the same.
Both of the plans embrace Californian standards already adopted by 13 other states hoping to aggressively curb vehicle emissions and promote the sale of electric cars. It also expresses support for the state after the Trump administration announced it would take for steps to eliminate California’s ability to self-regulate fleetwide greenhouse gas emissions.
“It’s pretty obvious today amongst all chaos in the national news that we can’t count on Washington to lead, so Minnesota needs to,” said Walz.
What you hear, too. While most electric vehicles emit noises at low speeds to alert pedestrians of their presence, drivers don’t have a say in the sounds emanating from their vehicle. If it came from the factory sounding like a spaceship, that’s something you’ll just have to live with.
Next year is the deadline for full compliance with mandatory low-speed EV noise rules finalized by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration early last year, but a proposed amendment shows the feds want drivers to dial up a tune.
They’re coming, and if you want to hang on to what’s near and dear to you, you’ve got to make a decision. And fast.
Well, maybe give it a few years.
As lawmakers and wannabe lawmakers go hog wild on proposed internal combustion bans in Europe, the idea has taken hold in North America. Different culture, different travel distances, different landscapes, but the same rhetoric. Same solutions. Same challenges, too, though there might be a few additional ones over here.
When they come for your car, what will you do?
California wants that ’84 Olds Eighty-Eight gone, stat. In its place, a citizen of limited means can apply for disposal funding and the (partial) means of replacing it with a cleaner car, or opt instead for a transit pass or car-sharing membership. Now, the state Senate has amended earlier legislation to include more “mobility.”
The Clean Cars 4 All Program, administered by the California Air Resources Board, will now fork it over to get you on some sort of bike.
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler weighed in on the gas war this week, issuing some firm language on the matter during a visit to Chattanooga, Tennessee. His words were softer upon returning to Washington, where he reminded everyone that the EPA has made no formal decisions on the matter and suggested there could still be room for compromise.
Unfortunately, locating that happy middle ground has been a bit of a problem. Despite the fuel economy rollback’s status as a proposal, hard lines have been drawn in the sand between the Trump administration and California’s regulatory bodies. The Golden State’s compromise was to delay the Obama-era targets by one year. California also recruited municipalities, U.S. states, and automotive manufacturers to pledge their support of the plan, resulting in a handful of carmakers finding themselves on the business end of an antitrust probe.
Meanwhile, the Trump administration’s compromise has been nonexistent. Wheeler’s words suggest that might be because everyone is still making up their minds… but not before he gently razzed the West Coast for being shortsighted an singleminded.
With a 25-percent import tariff looming like a hanging blade over U.S.-built vehicles in the Chinese market, Tesla has managed to side-step another sales-sinking levy: the country’s purchase tax.
At 10 percent, the purchase tax applies to most vehicle sales in that market, though the state exempts various domestic “new energy” (electric) vehicles from the added cost. As of Friday, Tesla vehicles, despite being manufactured in California, will join the ranks of these privileged automobiles. However, buyers hoping to realize the full benefit of the tax cut are out of luck.
There’s a Consumer Reports study making the rounds that reveals owners of trucks and large SUVs wish for better performance at the pump. Please pick yourself up off the ground. In fact, 73 percent of surveyed drivers who own such a vehicle wish for more MPGs in their next vehicle, which is not surprising given that large vehicles return, on average, below-average fuel economy.
Interestingly, the Detroit Three find themselves in the midst of an MPG war with their full-size, light-duty diesels. Mild hybrid Ram 1500s are here, and Ford has a hybrid F-150 in the works. Both Ford and GM have fully electric full-sizers in development. The General just introduced a four-cylinder half-ton (with an admittedly lackluster EPA rating).
While it’s understandable that owners of large vehicles would wish for lower fuel costs, the study fails to ask why owners want an improvement in their gas bill.
It’s become something of a fascination for this writer: scrutinizing the latest car commercial to earn the wrath of Britain’s all-seeing Advertising Standards Authority — an ominous and monolithic-sounding name if there ever was one.
One assumes there’s a moisture-stained, Brutalist-style concrete structure dedicated to preserving the sensibilities of UK viewing audiences somewhere in the greater London area. Bureaucrats and other pencil-pushers file in after abandoning their Austin Allegras and Morris Marinas in a rain-soaked parking lot, umbrellas in hand.
Having said that, let’s move on to the latest car company to run afoul of the UK ad cops: Volkswagen.
The trade war between the United States and China heated up again Friday, with the People’s Republic pulling a U-turn on its treatment of U.S.-built vehicles. Come mid-December, China will hit inbound U.S. vehicles with a 25-percent tariff. Auto parts will see a 5-percent tariff.
The new — well, resurrected — auto tariffs are a reactionary measure, coming after U.S. President Donald Trump proposed, then delayed, the levying of a 10-percent tariff on $300 billion of Chinese goods. While some import taxes will hit in September, the full range of tariffs is expected to come into effect on December 15th. China’s auto tariffs, first levied last year and lifted earlier this year as an olive branch gesture, are part of a larger raft of tariffs impacting $75 billion of U.S. goods. A 5- to 10-percent tariff hits non-auto U.S. goods on September 1st.
It’s no wonder every automaker wants to build Chinese-market vehicles within that country’s borders.
If you’re any kind of a car enthusiast, or you just think the personal automobile is a terrific transportation device, this news has got to be chilling. The cross-party Science and Technology Select Committee of Parliament has issued a report that says that if the United Kingdom is to reach its goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2050, private automobile and truck ownership must end.
Oh, and if you think your morally pure Tesla or some other EV is going to protect your privilege for personal transportation, no, the environmental Jacobins are coming for all privately operated motor vehicles.
Latest Car ReviewsRead more
Latest Product ReviewsRead more
- 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."