New EPA Chief Promises Tougher Vehicle Rules by Summer

With environmental regulations being a cornerstone of the Biden-Harris platform, the administration’s newly installed Environmental Protection Agency head has signaled that changes are coming over the summer. However, before that can take place, Administrator Michael Regan said wants to make some big changes within the agency that he believes will bring it back to the way it operated before being restructured by the Trump administration.

In the meantime, the EPA will be actively revising the previous president’s relaxed fuel economy standard designed to give the industry some flexibility in terms of keeping larger vehicles and traditional powertrains on sale — something we’ve covered repeatedly as it ended up being the proverbial football in the highly political American gas war. Considering Mr. Regan’s history of praising California’s climate response and energy protocols, his allegiances in the conflict should be obvious. However, he has also suggested that the EPA needs to make decisions on what’s feasible, indicating he may not push for extreme measures. Though he has not drawn any lines in the sand when it comes to potential bans of internal combustion vehicles or stringent penalties for power plants and oil refineries.

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Auto Industry Requests U.S. Government Help With Chip Shortage

The Alliance for Auto Innovation (AAI) is hard at work begging the federal government for help while the world continues coping with the semiconductor chip shortage, though it’s hardly the first time the industry has asked for or received administrative assistance. With pandemic lockdowns throwing global supply chains into a tailspin, U.S President Joe Biden said his administration would be seeking $37 billion and new legislation to address the chip shortage while federal agencies were directed to see what could be done in the interim.

But there’s little to be done with the brunt of the relevant manufacturing taking place in Asia, hence the AAI lobby requesting U.S. Commerce Department set aside some cash for domestic chip production in a new bill.

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Automotive Industry Begs U.S. Government for Money

With President Biden planning to announce an infrastructure proposal that could easily exceed $2 trillion, the automotive industry has come to the realization that some of that money could be used to make its job easier. Following Tesla’s attempt at charming the federal government into making carbon credits more valuable, automotive lobbies, supplier groups, and the United Auto Workers (UAW) union have issued a joint letter asking for financial assistance.

Addressed to the president and congress, the document makes numerous requests for help with electric vehicle adoption rates. Industry groups would like to see Biden sign onto significant government tax incentives and subsidies for both buying and manufacturing electric vehicles. But this isn’t limited to passenger cars, they also want tax dollars used to help offset the prices corporations pay on commercial EVs intended for fleet use. Government grants would likewise be set aside for organizations that retool facilities for electric cars, while federal entities make a vow to buy up new fleets that aren’t reliant on liquid fuel.

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Tesla Demands Return to Obama Fueling Restrictions, Reasons Obvious

Tesla is demanding the reinstatement of a 2016 Obama regulation that more than doubles penalties for manufacturers who fail to adhere to fuel efficiency requirements. Gee, I wonder why it would do such a thing.

While focusing on the environment is an admirable endeavor, much of the discussion surrounding environmentalism on the corporate level really skirts around the periphery of Scamville. Elon Musk is no fool and understands that the more stringent regulations are enacted against his competitors, the more desperate they will be to buy up Tesla’s mountain of carbon credits. With a little help from the government, electric-vehicle companies can effectively bankrupt their more-traditional rivals while earning a nice payday for themselves. In fact, Tesla has only managed to become a profitable company because of this practice.

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Report: Chinese Military Bans Tesla Vehicles From Facilities

The Chinese military has decided to ban all Tesla vehicles from housing complexes and bases after citing them as a potential security risk. Since the cars use an array of ultrasonic sensors and cameras to create a panoramic view used for advanced driving features, China is concerned the American brand could use the cars to covertly map out sensitive areas.

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Senate Confirms Biden Admin Pick to Head EPA

On Wednesday, the U.S. Senate voted 66-34 to confirm Michael Regan as the next administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The Biden campaign had signaled that it wanted to clean house following appointments from the Trump administration well before the election, noting that the EPA was of particular importance since it needs to be in line with the bold energy strategy. Regan’s role as administrator is essential since he’ll have the ability to encourage the United States to reduce emissions wherever possible.

Whereas the Trump administration sought to undo Obama-era policies it deemed untenable and soften the power of highly influential independent executive agencies, Biden and company are bent on restoring those policies while strengthening some of its own. Regan (44) is presumed to pursue greenhouse gas emissions reductions for automobiles, powerplants, and oil refineries by any means available. He began his career as an environmental regulator for the EPA during the Clinton administration, stayed on through the Bush years, and later joined the Environmental Defense Fund — a nonprofit environmental advocacy group that frequently partners with multinational companies to create “market-driven” solutions to climate change.

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Lawmakers Introduce Bill Offering USPS More Money for EVs

Despite the United States Postal Service (USPS) having recently finalized its plan to award Oshkosh Defense a $482 million contract to replace its ramshackle fleet with sparkly new Next Generation Delivery Vehicles (NGDV), Postmaster General Louis DeJoy said it could only afford to make 10 percent of the fleet electric. The USPS would allegedly need another 3 or 4 billion dollars in government assistance to make BEVs happen in meaningful numbers and some lawmakers seem happy to oblige.

A bill sponsored by House Representative Jared Huffman (a California Democrat), introduced on Monday, seeks to allocate $6 billion to increase the number of EVs used by the USPS — with the stipulation that at least 75 percent of the motor pool be zero-emission vehicles. The original plan estimated expenditures of roughly $6.3 billion over the duration of the 10-year program to modernize the United States’ postal fleet. But the service ultimately decided to go with Oshkosh’s internal combustion model, rather than the electric prototypes offered by other manufacturers.

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White House Briefly Mentions Fixing Our Horrible Roads

On Thursday, President Joe Biden spent part of his day listening to a group of lawmakers discuss how much the United States might need to spend on fixing its horrible infrastructure. It’s an issue America has neglected through multiple administrations and has frequently been set back by partisan conflict.

Considering the White House is ruminating on how to source trillions of dollars in new infrastructure spending after the U.S. just printed $9 trillion (almost 25 percent all USD currently in circulation) for COVID relief, that’s unlikely to change. Everyone is worried about raising taxes and causing inflation during a period of economic uncertainty, or skeptical that the government will use the new funding responsibly. But our roads (among other infrastructure projects) are reaching a point where they can no longer be ignored, placing the entire country in a particularly sour pickle.

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White House Presses Taiwan On Semiconductor Shortage

Automakers around the globe have been issuing warnings for weeks that the semiconductor shortage will eventually result in fewer cars and leaner profitability reports. But the absent chips are affecting just about every industry producing modern connected devices, creating fears that electronic prices could skyrocket as availability dwindles. Lockdowns effectively crippled semiconductor supply lines right as demand peaked and everyone is starting to get a little worried about how it’s going to impact production in other industries.

The White House is reportedly taking steps to mitigate the issue by tasking Brian Deese (Director of the National Economic Council) and Jake Sullivan (National Security Adviser) with coming up with a solution. It’s also asking embassies to assist chip suppliers around the world however possible and hopefully suss out a way to stop the global shortage. Meanwhile, Deese and Sullivan will be focusing the brunt of their efforts on Taiwan.

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European Auto Lobby Demands More EV Charging Stations for Hundredth Time

The European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) is demanding the EU install more electric vehicle charging stations in a letter co-signed with Transport & Environment (T&E) and the European Consumer Organization (BEUC). This marks the hundredth time (rough estimate) an auto lobbying entity has tried to pressure the government into spending a fortune to drastically alter the European infrastructure to support the planned glut of EVs.

But it might be a fair request. Regulatory actions have effectively forced the industry into a corner and it now seems giddy at the prospect of an electrified world. The only real downside is that the charging infrastructure and power grids aren’t ready. ACEA estimates that the EU will need to build one million public charging points by 2024, with hopes of seeing three million installed before 2030.

Let’s see how feasible that is before it’s tried in our neck of the woods.

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GM Hypes Norway's EV Leadership

Actor Will Farrell describes Norway’s EV leadership in one of the more amusing Super Bowl commercials, and how General Motors is looking to change all that here at home.

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Tesla CEO Accused of Kowtowing to China: A Tale of Two Musks?

Tesla CEO Elon Musk came under fire this week after Bloomberg wrote a piece accusing him of playing nice with totalitarian China following years of showing totalitarian California a complete lack of respect. With the semiconductor shortage leaving the industry in a holding pattern, tabloid journalism seems to be filling in the gaps to the dismay of yours truly. However, Musk’s relationship with both countries remains relevant since they represent the two largest automotive markets on the planet and will dictate the trajectory of the business.

He’s being accused of being extremely apologetic to Chinese regulators, despite having become infamous for acting in the exact opposite manner in the United States. As you might recall, American Musk is all about flagrantly ignoring the rules and telling the government regulators to take their concerns into the bathroom where they’ll have the privacy necessary to stick them where the sun doesn’t shine. When it comes to high-IQ billionaires, our Elon is the bad boy’s bad boy. But Chinese Musk is said to be deferential and happy to comply with the request of oversight groups before they become official mandates.

He sounds like a total traitor! At least, that’s how China’s state-run media framed it before Western outlets took the reporting and made Elon seem even worse on Tuesday. The story has since been spreading online, encouraging this website to take another look to see if Mr. Musk is actually the double-crossing villain that’s being claimed.

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California Wins the Gas War, Fickle Automotive Coalition Realigns Position

The Coalition for Sustainable Automotive Regulation (CSAR) is officially withdrawing from a lawsuit between California and federal authorities over the coastal state’s ability to establish its own emissions standards. California leadership had vowed to ignore the Trump administration’s proposed rollback and began making binding side deals with automakers (specifically BMW, Ford, Volkswagen, Volvo, and Honda) committed to adhering to the aggressive limits established under President Obama. Unfortunately, this ran the risk of undermining the revised national standards penned shortly after the United States became energy independent. It also set up the CSAR to embrace any entity that had views conflicting with California Air Resources Board.

Federal concerns were that the Golden State setting its own targets would butt heads with the relaxed national benchmarks and ultimately divide the U.S. market and may even influence the types of vehicles that were manufactured for all of North America. But the issue became moot once President Biden broke the record for executive orders by signing 22 in his first week. Predictably, the brunt of these were designed to instantly undo any actions taken throughout the duration of the Trump administration and included one directing the Department of Transportation and EPA to reconsider the 2019 decision to remove California’s authority to limit tailpipe emissions by April and revise the fuel-efficiency standards for automobiles by summer.

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Dodge CEO Hints at Second Malaise Era, Blames Regulation

Dodge CEO Tim Kuniskis has repeatedly suggested that electrification would be a keystone trait of tomorrow’s automobiles. But he never sounds truly gleeful about the prospect, injecting the level of joy one might reserve when announcing that the trip to the grocery store after noticing spartan shelves in the kitchen. Kuniskis is aware that Dodge’s lineup caters heavily to automotive size queens and that its ability to manufacture those models is swiftly coming to a close.

Despite the former FCA giving the brand the go-ahead to manufacture V8-equipped behemoths like the Hellcat, the newly formed Stellantis auto group may be less inclined to continue those efforts and the freshly installed Biden administration seems wholly committed to doubling down on environmental regulations that were already at odds with high-output automobiles. Kuniskis typically stops short of discussing these issues as the death knell for automotive performance, suggesting instead that electrification will open new doors for the industry while closing a few others. But he occasionally issues statements hinting that he’s not quite so enthralled with or as hopeful about EVs as his contemporaries.

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Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao Resigns Amidst D.C. Chaos

Elaine Chao, the U.S. Secretary of Transportation, has resigned in the wake of the unrest in our nation’s capital yesterday.

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  • ToolGuy ToolGuy can't solve all the issues raised here tonight, but this does remind me that I have some very excellent strawberry jam direct from Paris in the fridge.
  • ToolGuy Cool.(ToolGuy supports technology advancement, as well as third-person references)
  • MaintenanceCosts Oddly enough, I bought a metal-roof convertible for a bit less than $20k last year. But it's not on your list; it's an E93 335i, manual, Sport package. Really really nice car to drive, and (while it's been a short time) it's been flawless so far.
  • FreedMike IS350 all the way. The Benz and the BMW are going to be money pits.
  • Zipper69 Make the cat an integral part of the underbody, that the exhaust system leads into and out of, keeping it away from the Sawzall.