Twist: NHTSA Tesla Autopilot Probe Now Includes Other Automakers

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has been doing a deep dive into Tesla’s Autopilot to determine if 765,000 vehicles from the 2014 model year onward are fit to be on the road. We’ve covered it on numerous occasions, with your author often making a plea for regulators not to harp on one company when the entire industry has been slinging advanced driving aids and distracting infotainment displays for years.

Apparently someone at the NHTSA either heard the blathering, or was at least of a similar mind, because the organization has expanded its investigation to include roughly a dozen other automakers.

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Vaccine Mandates Being Considered By Auto Industry, UAW

With the Biden administration having announced that it would start requiring companies to vaccinate employees, automakers and UAW are finding themselves in a sticky situation. Unions had previously said they wanted to hold off on endorsing or opposing mandatory vaccinations until after they discussed things with the industry and their own members. Considering Joe Biden said he wouldn’t make vaccines mandatory less than 10 months ago, employers are getting caught with their pants around the proverbial ankles.

Automakers had previously been surveying white-collar workers to see what they wanted to do while upping on-site COVID restrictions, but operating under the impression that any hard decisions were likely a long way off and left entirely to their discretion. Now the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration is planning a new standard that requires all employers with 100 (or more) employees to guarantee their workforce is fully vaccinated or require any unvaccinated workers to produce a negative test result on a minimum weekly basis.

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New York to Ban Sale of Gasoline Vehicles After 2035

New York Governor Kathy Hochul signed into law a bill that effectively makes the sale of new gasoline-powered automobiles illegal within the state after 2035. On Wednesday, the state’s new governor took the brave step of copying California in deciding that all new passenger cars and light-duty trucks be zero-emission models within the next 14 years. Though she saw it as a totally original strategy necessary for stopping the horrors of global warming, which we now call climate change.

It’s also not technically her plan, as the State Assembly voted on the bill months before she took office with all Democrats and three Republicans voting in favor. It later passed the Senate in another party-dependent vote aided by the state’s Democratic majority.

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Auto Alliance Outlines EV Charging Infrastructure Plan, Asks for Help

This week, the Alliance for Automotive Innovation (the largest automotive lobby in existence) released a set of principles relating to the EV charging infrastructure that it believes will be absolutely necessary to spur consumer adoption of electric and alternative energy vehicles in the United States.

“For the auto industry’s transition to electrification to be successful, customers will need access to affordable and convenient charging and hydrogen fueling, easy-to-understand utility rate structures that reward off-peak charging, and improved charging times,” John Bozzella, CEO of the alliance, said on Wednesday. “And we must also work together to grow EV sales without leaving low-income, rural or disadvantaged communities behind.”

That’s corporate-speak for “we need to stop catering to wealthy buyers and the government needs to pay for as much of this as possible.”

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NHTSA Considers Increasing Fines for Emission Violations

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is considering increasing penalties for automakers that fail to meet fuel-efficiency requirements. Though this could be considered a restoration of older standards, depending upon your perspective.

Shortly before leaving office, President Donald Trump postponed a regulation from the last days of the Obama administration that would have effectively doubled fines for vehicle manufacturers failing to meet Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) requirements. Automakers had been complaining that the rule would have dramatically increased operating costs, suggesting that would trickle down to vehicle pricing and give manufacturers selling carbon credits an unfair advantage.

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Correct: Honda Says Senate Tying EV Subsidies to Unions Discriminatory

Despite regulatory efforts often being praised as essential for elevating standards and promoting safety, they’re also an excellent way to funnel money and favors between political and corporate entities in plain sight. This dichotomy is particularly glaring in regard to environmental restrictions, which frequently favor businesses that are wealthy enough to afford to adhere to them and subsidies that effectively reroute tax funding to support various industries.

Considering this, it’s fairly rare to see bigger businesses griping about government assistance. But that’s exactly what Honda is doing with a proposal in Congress seeking to provide additional EV subsidies to consumers that buy vehicles manufactured by union-backed plants. The manufacturer has stated it believes the Clean Energy for America Act is discriminatory by favoring specific automakers and will ultimately restrict the choices available to consumers – which is true.

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EPA Introduces Stricter Vehicle Emission Rules

The Biden administration released updated proposals for the mileage and emission standards to be imposed on passenger vehicles sold inside the United States this week. To the great shock of nobody, they move the country away from the targets established by the Trump administration so the nation can be brought back toward stringent Obama-era goals those later changes sought to get away from.

Though it’s not quite a return to form and environmentalists have already accused the plan of being insufficient — a take that’s as easy to predict as a sunrise. The Environmental Protection Agency would be technically setting rules that put us a year or so behind targets instituted during the Obama administration. But that’s largely understandable when that regime didn’t spend the last four years inside the White House. Besides, the Biden administration’s EPA has already confirmed it’s pushing for even tougher restrictions after 2026.

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Senate Infrastructure Bill Seeks to Make Breathalyzers, Interior Cameras Mandatory

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.

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Nikola Deathwatch: DOJ Indicts Founder for Lying to Investors

The U.S. Department of Justice has indicted Nikola founder Trevor Milton over claims made to investors that could have been intentionally misleading. Though anybody tracking the story from the beginning already knows the corporate plot surrounding the company’s trucks has more holes than a deli platter comprised entirely of baby swiss.

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Brother of Top Biden Adviser Lobbied for General Motors

Washington, D.C. has long been thought of as a “swamp” of shady dealings, regardless of what party is in charge of the White House and/or Congress at any given time.

The previous president even promised to “drain the swamp,” though his critics would argue he made it swampier than ever.

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Report: Toyota Working Against EV Shift

In case you missed it over the weekend, The New York Times had a report suggesting that Toyota is quietly working to slow the automotive industry’s shift to electric vehicles.

Yes, that Toyota. The same one that has been praised for its development of gas-electric hybrids. The same one that uses one particular hybrid — the Prius — as an avatar for its green cred.

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Audi Abandoning Subcompact Cars Over Regulatory Pressure

Audi is discontinuing the A1, citing Europe’s regulatory landscape as the main cause. Eager to limit the amount of CO2 coming out of tailpipes, the European Union has placed strict limits on petroleum-powered passenger vehicles. For Audi, the price of manufacturing a subcompact automobile-dependent upon internal combustion is getting too high. Installing a smaller motor would negatively impact drivability while slotting in a hybrid powertrain means more R&D costs and jacking up the MSRP to a point where consumers might lose interest.

There’s just not much incentive to build small, efficient vehicles when the profit margins have been made razor thin and people aren’t buying them in great numbers. And this is a lesson that’s being learned by all automakers, not just those associated to Volkswagen Group.

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U.S. and Mexico Can't Come Together On Light Vehicle Rules

When the United States abandoned the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) to embrace the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), it did so under the premise of crafting a better trade arrangement for itself. Established in 1994, NAFTA created a trilateral trade bloc that encouraged commerce between nations. But critics have accused it of encouraging the offshoring of U.S. jobs and dramatically suppressing wages — particularly within the automotive and manufacturing sectors.

Signed in 2018, and revised the following year, the USMCA was supposed to remedy those issues. But it’s been difficult to get all parties on board, especially when it comes to those persnickety rules of origin that stipulate how much of a vehicle’s hardware needs to be sourced from member nations.

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Europe Proposes Banning Internal Combustion Cars By 2035

Last week, the European Union proposed banning the sale of all new internal combustion vehicles starting in 2035. With several member nations proposing restrictions in the coming years, EU leadership feels it can accelerate the timeline to force electric vehicles as the de facto mode of transportation. The European Commission has suggested making it illegal to sell gas or diesel-powered vehicles in 14 years, with aims to reduce CO2 emissions produced by automobiles by 55 percent (vs 2021 levels) by 2030.

But countries that still produce vehicles have expressed reservations about the scheduling. France absolutely agrees with mandating restrictions that would reduce greenhouse emissions. Though President Emmanuel Macron’s office has been pressing that hybrid vehicles would be able to do much of the heavy lifting and fears that an outright ban of internal combustion could hamstring the industry if conducted too early. Germany, which manufacturers more vehicles than other EU member nations, is of a similar mind.

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Right-to-Repair Movement Gets Federal Attention

While the right-to-repair movement is fighting a national battle, the brunt of the action has been taking place on America’s coasts. Consumer activists are taking on multinational corporations that don’t want you to modify your mobile devices, affix aftermarket components to your vehicle, or have complete access to the data that’s amassed by the staggering number of products that are needlessly networked to the internet. After years of petitioning the government, often while arguing with high-paid lobbyists, the group achieved a major victory in Massachusetts in 2020. Voters decided that automakers should not be allowed to withhold information from the vehicle’s owner or use it as a way to prohibit them from taking their car into independent repair shops (rather than manufacturer-certified service centers) or tinkering with it themselves.

Now the federal government is getting involved. Joe Biden has signed an executive order that effectively forces the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to take regulatory action that would settle the matter. But we don’t really know if that’s going to lead to a market where customers are free to treat their property (and private data) as they wish, one where the manufacturer holds all the cards, or simply result in a regulatory minefield displeasing all parties.

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  • Carlson Fan The way the truck drops in the rear and the bed/tailgate become a ramp is genius! I'd buy it just for that alone!!! It would be awesome for loading snowmobiles and garden tractors in the back. However, my trucks need to be able to regularly tow heavy loads long distance, summer & winter. Sorry folks, current battery tech. isn't even close to what it needs to be for me to think even one second that a battery truck could replace my current ICE powered truck. An EV for a DD makes sense , but for truck you need a MUCH better battery.
  • Inside Looking Out For midsize sedan it is too small. It basically is a compact car.
  • Stodge I test drove the 200S and damn, its suspension was so firm, I was convinced it didn't actually include suspension at all. It hurt my spine and hip, it was that firm.
  • MRF 95 T-Bird If Mopar had only offered sport hatch versions of the 200 and or Dart they might have sold more of them for folks who wanted some more versatility without having to go for a small utility Compass Patriot or new at the time Renegade or Cherokee.
  • El scotto I started driving in the late 70's. The cars high school kids could afford and wanted were very very worn out muscle cars. Oh Lordy those V-8's bring back some happy memories. Oh there some outliers in my crowd, a VW Bug and a Dodge Scamp with slant six; neither car would die. In 10 years their will be young people wanting very used Teslas or Dodge's with hemis. B&B, I say that if someone is excited about their EV, Hybrid, or Hemi welcome them to the club of people who like cars.