American States Join Forces to Promote Electric Trucking
A bundle of U.S. states and the District of Columbia unveiled a joint memorandum of understanding on Tuesday targeting the proliferation of medium and heavy-duty electric vehicles.
News of the agreement comes less than a month after the California Air Resources Board (CARB) showed off a policy that would legally obligate manufacturers to sell an increasing number of zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) from 2024 onward. That plan aims to basically eliminate diesel-powered semis by 2045, though the new memorandum has its sights set on 2050.
Hauling In California? That Rig Had Better Be Green
The California Air Resource Board (CARB) just passed a mandate that will require manufacturers of big rigs, heavy duty pickups, and some construction equipment to adhere to new zero-emission quotas and a carbon-credit system.
As all-electric 18-wheelers are in short supply, California wants to wait a few years to put the new rules into play. Still, it’s eager to get the ball rolling so it can start replacing diesel-driven transport with something from the battery-electric section. It also gives the state another opportunity to pat itself on the back despite not having any clue whether or not the strategy is economically sustainable. Even with battery technology moving at a fair clip, there’s a lot of engineering left to be done before these types of vehicles can become commonplace.
Rivian Snubs Michigan for California
Following reports that Rivian might decide to move a large portion of its operations out of Michigan, news has reached us that it’s all but abandoning the Mitten State for sunny California.
Starting its life as Avera Motors in Florida back in 2009, the EV startup moved to Plymouth, Michigan in 2015 to poach talent from the Big Three and lay down some roots. However, the company doesn’t appear to have wormed its way into the soil all that deeply. It now plans to move a sizable portion of its operations to Irvine, California, with some employees heading to its plant in Normal, Illinois, to prepare for production.
This has got to be a slap in the face for some Michigan residents, since many were instrumental in the development of Rivian’s first models. The business fired a gaggle of people at its engineering and design center near Detroit at the start of June, only to slot in a couple of high-paid executives. Now it’s starting to look like it may pull up stakes and skip town.
Silver and Gold: Nevada Joins California in the Gas War
On Monday, Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak announced that his state will embrace California-crafted emissions rules that are at odds with the national rollback finalized by the Trump administration in March.
Officially, Sisolak said the rules would not require residents to abandon their current ride “or choose one that does not work for their lifestyle or business needs.” Nevada has, however, decided to adopt higher mpg standards, as well as the Golden State’s zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) rules that require manufacturers to sell a certain number of electric or plug-in hybrid models each year based on the total number of vehicles sold within the state.
Companies in compliance accrue ZEV credits, which can then be traded or sold to other manufacturers for money. As with the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) system, those that cannot hit their targets (or afford to buy up credits) will be fined. Tesla actually used such arrangements to make $594 million off its rivals in 2019, with the prospect of things only getting more lucrative for the all-electric brand.
Junkyard Find: 1977 Mercury Bobcat 3-Door
You’d think that examples of the Ford Pinto and its Mercury-badged twin, the Bobcat, would have disappeared from the American junkyard ecosystem by now, given the cheapness of these cars and the decades of exploding-Pinto punchlines since “Pinto Madness” came out in 1977. No doubt due to the huge quantities sold during the Pinto/Bobcat’s 10-year production run (well over three million), such is not the case; I continue to find Pintos and Bobcats in junkyards to this day.
Here’s a light blue ’77 three-door Bobcat in a Northern California self-serve yard.
Try and Stop Me: In Defiance of County Orders, Tesla Turns on the Lights
Furious over a decision by county officials to keep all non-essential businesses offline until the end of the month, Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced late Monday that his Fremont, California assembly plant is opening up anyway.
The move comes two days after the automaker filed a lawsuit against Alameda County. In it, Tesla called the county’s order unconstitutional and in violation of California Governor Gavin Newson’s statewide return-to-work mandate. Should county officials call in the cops, Musk wishes to be the only one in cuffs.
Tesla Sues County; Musk Promises to Pick up Toys, Go Home
California announced late last week that it will allow the cautious reopening of manufacturing operations across the state, but Alameda County resisted, claiming it will keep non-essential businesses shuttered until the end of the month.
Guess which county Tesla’s Fremont assembly plant is located in.
Now guess Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s reaction to the country’s announcement. If you speculated that Tesla might sue Alameda Country, with Musk launching an online tirade in which he promises to move Tesla HQ and all future products out of the state, you’d be right.
Junkyard Find: 1986 Ford Taurus L
Junkyard Find: 1983 Mercury Marquis Sedan
California Greenlights Autonomous Delivery Vehicles for Public Roads
On Tuesday, self-driving startup Nuro received a permit from the State of California to commence testing on certain public roads. Issued by the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles, the document allows its fleet of driverless delivery bots to mingle with traffic.
On a national level, Nuro’s vehicles are technically illegal without a smidgen of government help. U.S. Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards mandate road-going automobiles have things like windshields, airbags, and mirrors. Meanwhile, Nuro’s small delivery units don’t even have space for a driver — requiring the Department of Transportation to make regulatory exemptions for the brand in February after debating the issue for over a year.
Does Tesla Have an Obligation to Close the Fremont Plant?
Tesla has earned no shortage of criticism for being the only American manufacturer yet to suspend production as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Rather than enact a full-blown shutdown, the California-based automaker opted to reduce its active workforce to just 2,500 employees — about a quarter of its total strength.
Six counties in the San Francisco Bay Area have issued a “shelter-in-place order” aimed at curtailing the spread of the novel coronavirus. Tesla’s Fremont facility is located in Alameda County — one of the municipalities telling residents to stay in their homes and close all nonessential businesses. Noticing that the factory had failed to comply with the notice, the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office tweeted out that Tesla was “not an essential business as defined in the Alameda County Health Order.”
But we’re not even sure what the company is legally obligated to do.
Junkyard Find: 2005 Suzuki Reno SWT
Would you consider a special-edition version of the Daewoo Nubira’s successor to be worthy of inclusion in this series, even as I walk by 99 out of 100 junked BMW E30s? Hey, if I’m willing to photograph every Mitsubishi Lancer OZ Rally and Geo Storm GSi that I find in the junkyard, then of course a genuine, numbers-matching Suzuki Reno SWT makes the cut!
Junkyard Find: 1987 Nissan Maxima Sedan
Gas War: Justice Department Drops Antitrust Probe Against Automakers Siding With California
The United States Department of Justice has ended its investigation into Ford, Honda, Volkswagen, and BMW over a presumed antitrust violation stemming from a deal they made with California to adhere to regional emission rules. Their agreement technically circumvents the current administration’s plan to freeze national emissions and fuel economy standards — established while President Obama was still in office — at 2021 levels through 2026. Under the California deal, the automakers promised to comply with pollution and gas mileage requirements that are more stringent than the federal standards suggested in the rollback proposal.
But the probe also looked like retaliation from the Trump administration against automakers publicly siding with the state causing the most trouble in the gas war. Under the deal, the automakers promised to comply with pollution and economy requirements that are tougher than proposed federal standards. Despite the corporate promise being as empty as an Oscar speech, it was still an affront to the current administration’s efforts to tamp down lofty efficiency targets put in place just days before it came into power.
While the Justice Department hasn’t explicitly said why it closed the investigation, it’s presumed that it simply didn’t find anything that it felt violated antitrust laws. California Governor Gavin Newsom said on Friday that he wasn’t surprised by the decision, stating that the “trumped-up charges were always a sham, a blatant attempt by the Trump administration to prevent more automakers from joining California and agreeing to stronger emissions standards.”
Junkyard Find: 1987 Jaguar XJ6
Jaguar built the Series III Jaguar XJ for the 1979 through 1992 model years, and so I’ve been seeing these cars in the big self-service vehicle graveyards since, well, the middle 1980s. They still show up in such yards to this day, as long-neglected project cars get swept up in yard- and driveway-clearance projects, but I’ll only document those that are particularly interesting.
A very clean British Racing Green XJ6 from the last model year for the Series III’s straight-six engine certainly qualifies, so here we go!