The United States’ 18.4-cent-per-gallon tax on gasoline and 24.4-cent tax on diesel hasn’t changed since 1993. Despite this, the opinion that it should be hiked as a way of funding public works was nowhere near the White House’s official infrastructure strategy. But Donald Trump isn’t averse to the idea. In fact, he proposed a 25-cent increase to senators during a Wednesday meeting as a possible funding solution.
White House officials claim the president says “everything is on the table” in terms of finding a solution for America’s growing infrastructure problems. But how serious the rest of the Trump administration is about raising the fuel tax is debatable.
Here at TTAC, we sometimes tap sister publications when a story arouses our interest. This piece, published by Hybrid Cars, details a battle brewing in the rustic state of Maine — one that pits hybrid and electric car owners against a government that says their cars, while good for the environment, aren’t good for road upkeep. As cars become greener and gas tax revenues dwindle, this won’t be the last battle.
A proposed new fee for hybrids and EVs in Maine could be the highest in the country, reducing clean vehicle adoption.
The Maine Department of Transportation wants to add an annual registration fee for hybrids and electric vehicles. $150 for hybrids, and $250 for electric models. The DOT is looking to impose the fee because it says drivers of the more energy efficient vehicles aren’t paying their fair share toward road maintenance.
“The owners of these types of vehicles are paying far less in the gas tax than other vehicle owners and they are using the highway system just like any others,” MDOT Manager of Legislated Services Megan Russo told the Portland Press-Herald. “There has got to be a way to try and capture revenue from those drivers who are using our road system.”
Few things are sexier than a new road. The scent of fresh tar, smooth pavement that’s still warm to the touch — it’s an absolute feast for the senses. After roughly a year of waiting, President Trump finally seems poised to deliver on a bunch of them. The White House has just offered Congress a 53-page report detailing exactly how to rattle loose $1.5 trillion in investments into the country’s ailing infrastructure.
Maybe “poised” is the wrong word to use; how about we just say that he’s been interested in the idea that somebody should build them.
Expect Democrats to complain that the plan totally fails to create a dedicated funding stream to address the infrastructure issue and Republicans to gripe about how the small federal investment, set at $200 billion, is still far too large. It’s a beautiful system we have here.
If California’s Jerry Brown is known for anything, it’s for continuing his familial legacy of governing the region for a weirdly long period of time and pressing for the proliferation of electric vehicles. While not all of the state’s EV initiatives have gone without a hitch (the LAPD’s unused fleet of battery powered BMWs springs to mind), Brown remains essential in keeping his neck of the woods on the forefront of alternative energy adoption.
Currently, California plans to place five million zero-emission vehicles on the road by 2030. The state previously set a target of 1.5 million ZEVs by 2025. That’s a massive increase, especially considering California only has about 350,000 examples currently plying its roads. Don’t worry, Brown has a plan to stimulate sales: $200 million worth of subsidies per year for the next eight years.
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.
Chinese car brand Guangzhou Automobile Group’s showing at the North American International Auto Show made it pretty clear that the manufacturer wants to get into the U.S. market. But, with its earlier deadlines to do so having gone unmet, there is skepticism that it won’t happen by 2019. Is it really possible?
Well, sure, anything is possible. But GAC has a laundry list of obstacles to overcome if it wants to sell cars to Americans in earnest and the clock is ticking. For starters, politicians are starting to get a little testy when it comes to Chinese trade policies, and GAC now finds itself as a focal point on the issue. More importantly, the brand needs a clear-cut path to victory — and we’ve yet to hear one.
We know the State of California loves electric cars, but the Los Angeles Police Department may have mixed emotions. Back in June of 2016, the LAPD awarded BMW with a contract to provide 100 battery-powered i3 hatchbacks as part of a plan to enhance its public image. At the time, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti told the press, “We should be thinking green in everything we do,” adding that the electric BMWs would “also save money and resources.”
Fast forward to 2018 and the contract is beginning to look like a good way to waste millions of dollars. The LAPD agreed to lease the vehicles, effectively doubling its electrified fleet, for three years. The logic was that the gas savings would offset the $1.4 million it would cost the police force to apprehend them from BMW. While that sounds wonderful, there is a problem — the LAPD isn’t driving them.
At this very moment, Chinese-based automaker GAC has a massive booth in the very center of the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. The company has expressed its intent to start importing its vehicles into the United States in 2019. However, 536 miles away (by car), Washington is bemoaning Chinese trade practices — a topic which might be extremely relevant for Guangzhou Automobile Group in the coming years.
On Wednesday, Democratic U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer and President Donald Trump separately criticized China’s trade policy. For automobiles, this translates into Chinese-built cars incurring a maximum 2.5 percent import tariff upon entering the United States, while U.S.-built cars sent East are hit with an average 25 percent tax.
There’s good news this morning for Fiat Chrysler worker in the United States, and it’s also good news for members of the Trump administration.
The automaker has announced plans to sink another $1 billion into its Warren Truck Assembly plant and bring production of its Ram Heavy Duty models to Michigan from Saltillo, Mexico. At the same time, some 60,000 hourly and salaried workers in the U.S. can expect a $2,000 bonus (paid in the second quarter of 2018) in recognition of “their continued efforts towards the success of the company.” The move also means 2,500 previously unannounced jobs for Michigan.
What’s behind all of this sudden goodwill? Recent changes to the country’s tax landscape, FCA claims.
“It is only proper that our employees share in the savings generated by tax reform and that we openly acknowledge the resulting improvement in the U.S. business environment by investing in our industrial footprint accordingly,” said CEO Sergio Marchionne in a statement.
So, how does this production shuffle play out, and what’s the backstory here?
Every year, nearly 40,000 people lose their lives on American roadways. Tragic as that may be, it’s small potatoes when you consider India hovers around 150,000 annual fatalities. While you could attribute the difference to the 1.32 billion people living in the country, the truth is that car ownership in India is far less common than in the United States.
Here, there are about 255 million functioning vehicles, leaving the majority of the population with access to some form of four-wheeled transportation. However, in India, the number is closer to 55.7 million — which only gives 42 people out of every 1,000 access to an automobile.
Confronted with a situation that can only be described as catastrophic, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is seeking to impose harsher penalties for traffic violations and requiring automakers to add safety features to cars sold within the region. While that’s a fine start, it doesn’t address the core issue: a nationwide lack of discipline behind the wheel.
Depending on who you talked to, the looming removal of the $7,500 federal tax credit for electric vehicles was either no big deal, or akin to the firebombing of Mother Earth. Much disagreement existed even among the ranks of environmentalists and EV proponents.
Well, worry no more, EV fans. You too, automakers.
The GOP’s revised tax bill, released late Friday, does not do away with the EV tax credit. The public will continue footing part of the bill for every Tesla Model 3, Chevrolet Bolt, etc, for the foreseeable future. At least until an automaker reaches its 200,000-vehicle cap.
In the wrestling match that ensued over the proposed elimination, it looks like the Senate pinned the House.
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.
On Wednesday, 22 mayors issued a letter to members of the House and Senate conference committee that’s attempting to finalize a rushed tax plan before the end of the year, saying the $7,500 electric vehicle tax credit allows them to better pursue clean-energy initiatives within their cities. The current versions of the bill has the House eliminating the credit, while the Senate has voted to keep it. So far, no automaker has reached the credit’s 200,000-vehicle threshold, and the industry — now backed with mayoral might — has pressed the U.S. government to maintain the incentive.
Alright, so it isn’t the power play that will turn the tide. But it does show that there exists a large group outside of manufacturers and EV fans that wants to keep the credits in place.
California Assemblyman Phil Ting, a Democrat chairing the chamber’s budget committee, says he intends to introduce a bill that would allow the state’s motor vehicle department to register only automobiles that emit no carbon dioxide, such as battery-electric vehicles or hydrogen fuel cell cars.
The proposed legislation would ultimately ban internal combustion engines, mimicking similar actions taken by France and the United Kingdom. Ting claims that, without a plan in place, California’s attempt to dramatically reduce greenhouse emissions by 2050 will prove ineffective.
Like BMW, which aims to keep gas-powered M cars in production for as long as humanly possible, Porsche is also making a commitment to motoring purity in the face of new technologies and government overreach. That circular device positioned in front of the driver? Porsche wants to keep it there.
The specter of Big Government and Big Safety conspiring to kill non-autonomous motoring is a real fear, one that’s been talked about more than a little here at TTAC. Call it the Red Barchetta scenario.
Porsche seems aware of it, too, though it tiptoes around the entity at the center of the issue. Nevertheless, the automaker claims a future Porsche “will be one of the last automobiles with a steering wheel.”
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- FreedMike Smart idea. EVs are a far easier sell to someone who can charge them at home.
- Dwford This is just going to become part of selling EVs. Automakers need to make it as simple as possible to buy an EV. And the process of hiring an electrician etc is a barrier many people will not want to deal with.
- MaintenanceCosts So I'm not the only TTAC reader who follows LPL.His channel basically teaches you that with the right knowledge there are very few security products that can't be defeated in a short amount of time.
- Analoggrotto Musta spent that solution development money on that fancy styling department aye Posky?
- Fred I like racing, especially F1 and IMSA where Cadilac races or will. I just wonder if most buyers of that car really care? For me it's that they don't race their sedans like BMW, Acura and others do. Even then the IMSA program could be branded with any GM model and has. What their F1 drivetrain will be I don't know.