What Ever Happened to the U.S. People's Convoy?
It’s been a while since we’ve covered the trucking protests and you might be wondering what happened with the U.S. People’s Convoy that emerged from the still-smoldering ashes of the Canadian Freedom Convoy. Well, it’s been circling Washington, D.C. for the last several weeks in the hope it can draw sufficient attention.
Unlike the Canadian-based convoy, which saw the government deploy armed men to clear demonstrations taking place in front of Ottawa’s Parliament Hill, the Americans have remained mobile to avoid getting cornered by authorities. Stationed out of Hagerstown Speedway in Maryland, truckers have established a base of operations where they can service vehicles whenever they’re not on the Beltway protesting. Drone shots from above have indicated that there are usually a few hundred trucks parked at the racetrack each morning, though videos from inside show evening returns including hundreds more supportive passenger vehicles. While journeys into the city do take place, they typically involve a handful of trucks designed to make some noise before quickly retreating to avoid being penned in.
Tesla Pauses Production in Shanghai
Tesla Inc. is briefly suspending production at its Shanghai factory for two days, starting today, as China upgrades restrictions pertaining to a new COVID outbreak. While the rest of the world has been scaling back pandemic-related restrictions, the Chinese Communist Party has begun issuing new mandates after locking down 51 million people at the start of the week. The government has said its part of its no-tolerance approach to the virus after citing roughly 1,700 infections spread across a dozen cities.
This has already started impacting supply chains that have been beleaguered by two years of restrictions already, apparently catching Tesla in the process. Despite Shanghai not having been issued any official orders, there’s been mounting pressure for businesses to temporarily shut down or reinstate protocols to have people work from home.
Gas War: EPA Reinstates California's Ability to Set Emission Limits, EV Mandates
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has opted to reinstate California’s ability to set tailpipe rules and zero-emission vehicle mandates that are more rigid than federal standards. After quarreling for years over the Trump administration’s decision to roll back Obama-era fueling standards deemed untenable, the Golden State now has the ability to once again make harder for its citizens by forcing them to purchase the kind of vehicles it feels they should be driving — rather than leaving it up to the individual that’s actually buying the car.
Though it might not matter at this point. While California effectively served as a defensive shield against proposed fueling rollbacks while Trump was in office, the Biden administration strategy is broadly in line with its agenda of making gasoline unappetizing to consumers to ensure a speedy transition to electric vehicles. California doesn’t even want people to have access to gas-powered lawn care equipment. The state has effectively served as a test case for Build Back Better since before the phrase passed through the lips of a single politician.
Drama: Elon Musk Dares UAW to Hold Union Vote in California
Tesla CEO Elon Musk has invited the United Auto Workers (UAW) to hold a union vote at the company’s facility in Fremont, California. While this may fool you into believing the executive has had a change of heart in regard to unionization, Musk seems to be inviting the labor group into a trap to dunk on his political enemies.
It’s no secret that there’s been bad blood between Tesla and the Biden administration. The White House has repeatedly left the automaker out of its discussions pertaining to industry regulation and proposed additional financial incentives for automakers using unionized labor to build electric vehicles. As the world’s largest purveyor of EVs by far, Musk believes his organization deserves some acknowledgment and has noted that the UAW is one of the Democratic Party’s staunchest allies. He’s asking for the vote in Fremont because he clearly thinks it will fail.
Report: Elon Musk and Brother Face Insider Trading Probe
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is reportedly investigating whether stock sales by Tesla CEO Elon Musk and his brother, Kimbal Musk, violated insider-trading rules.
Launched in 2021, the probe is looking into shares sold by Kimbal valued at $108 million one day before Elon polled Twitter to see whether or not he should offload 10 percent of his stake in the company, suggesting he would run with the results. Though the tweet itself was a snide way of discussing proposals from Democrat legislators that would have imposed new taxes on unrealized capital gains, effectively money that doesn’t yet (and may never) exist.
U.S. Postal Service Decides to Snub Electric Vehicles
The United States Postal Service (USPS) has been under pressure from the White House to replace its aging fleet with all-electric vehicles. But it’s looking like mail carriers will continue doing their jobs in oddly shaped trucks that burn gasoline.
While the Biden administration’s green agenda calls for government fleets to begin transitioning to EVs, the USPS had already decided to purchase 165,000 examples of the Oshkosh Defense NGDV that’s dependent upon liquid fuel. Despite the contractor saying trucks could be converted into battery electric vehicles and/or hybrids, the vast majority will be wholly reliant on internal combustion. The USPS has decided that it’s just not cost-effective or practical to do anything else and no amount of pressure from the White House will be changing its mind.
Money on the other hand…
People's Convoy Rolls On Washington, Freedom Convoy Regrouping
On Wednesday, American truckers commenced a cross-country drive from California to Washington, D.C., to petition governments (local, state, and especially federal) to end all COVID-19 mandates. Known as The People’s Convoy, the group was inspired by the Canadian Freedom Convoy that was broken up over the weekend and effectively serves to spread its message within the United States.
The goal is to arrive in the capital early in March to pressure the Biden Administration into ending any formal federal emergencies pertaining to the pandemic. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has approved a request from the District of Columbia government and the U.S. Capitol police for 700 National Guard troops, widespread fencing, and 50 armored vehicles in anticipation.
Cricket or Ticket: NY Now Has Cameras Designed to Identify Loud Cars
New Yorkers with aftermarket exhaust systems may want to be extra careful because a law, signed by Governor Kathy Hochul to increase fines on sound violations, now has a new enforcement tool designed to spot noisemakers.
Approved in autumn of 2021, the SLEEP (Stop Loud and Excessive Exhaust Pollution) Act raised the fine on vehicles producing excess sound in NY from $150 to a whopping $1,000. But drivers are now learning that getting busted won’t necessarily require whizzing past a squad car while their Borla snap-crackle-and-pops surrounding eardrums. NYC residents have begun receiving notices in the mail after being caught by the auditory equivalent of speed cameras.
Adaptive Headlights Becoming Legal in United States
On Tuesday, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced it had finalized a rule permitting automakers to install adaptive driving beam headlights on modern vehicles. Despite having pioneered automatic headlamps in the 1950s, the United States has been hesitant to implement automatic leveling and directional beams. In fact, imported vehicles equipped with adaptive headlights have been modified to adhere to regional safety laws for decades.
But the implementation of light-emitting diodes, high-intensity discharge lamps, and even upgrades to tungsten-halogen bulbs has made forward illumination substantially brighter. If you’ve been driving a while, you’ve probably noticed increased glare from oncoming vehicles (especially if you’re in an automobile that’s situated closer to the pavement). Directional beams are supposed to help alleviate the problem and have been getting more attention from U.S. safety regulators. However, that’s only part of the reason why the NHTSA suddenly feels better about approving them.
Industry Begins Blaming the Bridge, Truckers in Ottawa
With the Ambassador Bridge having been cleared by police over the weekend, those protesting government mandates have literally been relegated to the sidelines. Canadian officers from a variety of departments, including Ontario Provincial Police, are now situated at relevant intersections and Windsor, Ontario, has declared a state of emergency in case demonstrators return.
But don’t think the story is over. The trucker blockade certainly caused trouble for the automotive sector and it suddenly seems interested in rolling the event into the industry’s ever-expanding list of excuses. Now that the rigs have all been removed, spokespeople have been chiming in and they’re being presented as rather single-minded on the matter. They want more assistance from the government to quash any protests that might impact their bottom line and are happy to have something else to blame for why the broader industry remains in such a pitiful state.
Freedom Convoy Update: Truckers Are Winning
The Freedom Convoy that originated in Canada last month has gained an incredible amount of momentum, garnering loads of support from citizens around the world. Sympathetic protests seem to be erupting everywhere while the original group of truckers remains planted on the streets of Ottawa to demand an end to government mandates. But honking at Parliament Hill for two weeks was only a portion of the convoy’s grand strategy.
Large groups of truckers have broken off to create blockades at meaningful border crossings, gaining control of North America’s already ailing supply lines. The most recent example resulted in the taking of the Ambassador Bridge in Detroit, an essential trade crossing for both the United States and Canada. Truckers have held the bridge for five days and automakers have begun announcing shutdowns due to supply issues. Meanwhile, the Canadian government has begun discussing an end to lockdown measures after failing to stop the protests and other nations appear poised to follow in its footsteps.
Biden EPA Tells USPS More Mail Trucks Should Be EVs
Last spring, the United States Postal Service announced that it would finally be replacing its fleet of Grumman Long Life Vehicles (LLVs) that have more than lived up to their name. Having entered into service in 1987 to replace the Dispatcher Jeep, the LLV is scheduled to be replaced by 150,000 new mail trucks from Oshkosh Defense. While the government originally wanted to use an all-electric platform, it was believed that rural routes probably required an internal combustion vehicle. Preexisting government contracts with Oshkosh likely made it a compelling manufacturer, though it annoyed some of the smaller candidates. Workhorse even sued the USPS last summer for not selecting its hideous entrant, though the official complaint was that the government hadn’t given EVs a fair shake.
That now appears to be changing because the Biden administration and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have asked USPS to hold off on the $11.3 billion contract with Oshkosh so electric options can be reevaluated.
NHTSA Moves Closer to Having First Administrator Since 2017
It may be getting difficult to remember, but the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) used to have someone who was formally in charge. They were called an administrator and Americans used to be able to rely on the government nominating and then confirming these within a year of their predecessor leaving office. The position has always been political, often filled by lobbyists deemed acceptable by whatever the dominant political party of the day happens to be. But things have been different in the 21st century, with the NHTSA frequently being ran by “acting administrators” who are just supposed to be placeholders until Congress can confirm a valid replacement.
The agency hasn’t had an official leader since 2017 when Mark Rosekind left the organization to become the head of safety innovation for autonomous vehicle startup Zoox. NHTSA has had a few interim bosses since then, with Steven Cliff filling the void since February of 2021. However he just moved a little closer to removing the word “acting” from his job title.
Setting the Stage? Mexican Auto Employees Elect Independent Union
When the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) was being floated as a possible replacement for the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), one of the biggest selling points was the inclusion of new labor protections for Mexican workers. The Trump administration wanted to ensure serious labor reform took place south of the border to ensure union business was conducted responsibly and wages would increase. As a byproduct, USMCA is supposed to encourage North American synergies while gradually discouraging U.S. businesses from blindly sending jobs to Mexico to capitalize on poverty tier wages.
That theory will now be tested in earnest after General Motors employees from the Silao full-size truck plant voted overwhelmingly to dump the Confederation of Mexican Workers (CTM) for the Independent Syndicate of National Workers (SINTTIA).
Canadian Trucker Protests Continue, Aussies Launch 'Convoy to Canberra'
With supply lines being of particular importance these days, truckers are leveraging their role to encourage government to see things their way. Canada’s Freedom Convoy reached Ottawa on Friday to demand officials end pandemic-related restrictions it believes are wreaking havoc on the economy and the protests have yet to stop.
While this all started with U.S. and Canadian truckers urging the government to abandon border restrictions that forced all drivers to be vaccinated and confirmed as COVID free (starting January 15th) or be forced to quarantine for 14 days, activists are now asking Ottawa to abandon all mandates or prepare itself for worsening disruptions to already ailing supply chains. They’ve since been joined by Australian truckers, who have formed the ‘Convoy to Canberra’ for similar reasons. Future demonstrations are also being prepared for the United States.