By on April 19, 2021

Undoubtedly eager to improve the take rate of electric vehicles, automakers have a myriad of solutions at their disposal. But the majority have something to do with getting the government involved to futz around with taxes.

Normally, this has to do with making special exceptions for EVs or subsidizing them via rebate programs. But governments seem happy to do this, as increasingly more legislation is advanced that would place restrictions on when and where people will be able to drive internal combustion vehicles, and automakers appear to be getting with the program. We’ve already seen manufacturers choosing sides in America’s gas war and now the Europeans are getting in on the action by demanding higher taxes be imposed on vehicles reliant on gasoline or diesel.

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By on February 11, 2021

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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By on December 14, 2020

An alliance of European truck manufacturers have pledged to stop selling vehicles that produce any emissions by 2040 — pushing up its previous target date by a full decade.

The group, which includes Daimler, Scania, Man, Volvo, Daf, Iveco, and Ford, have all signed a pledge to focus on developing hydrogen and battery technologies so that petroleum-derived propulsion can be phased out of the trucking industry.

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By on November 4, 2020

If you hadn’t already heard, Europe began taking actions to prepare itself for another pandemic-related lockdown. Last month, leadership in Germany and France noted that existing restrictions were “not enough anymore” and began issuing specific citizens “certificates” allowing them to move freely within the country. As you might have imagined, this didn’t exactly bolster automotive sales.

While most of the new restrictions were implemented at the tail end of October, they’ve foreshadowed additional measures introduced as more countries climbed aboard (like the UK’s second banning of sex with people from outside of the household) and began signaling that automotive sales were about to be routed. Gains made in September look to be completely undone, with Germany’s Federal Motor Transport Authority stating new-car registrations fell by 3.6 percent in October (vs 2019) on Wednesday. But that’s only the beginning of the bad news.

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By on November 2, 2020

Honda Motor Co. will be accompanying Fiat Chrysler Automobiles in pooling its emissions with electric vehicle manufacturer Tesla in an attempt to adhere to CO2 limits mandated by the European Union. For 2020, the average emissions of all vehicles sold within the region must not exceed 95 grams of CO2 per kilometer. Companies failing to comply will be forced to pay the government sizable fines as it readies even higher targets for next year.

Over half of automakers planning to move product inside Europe next year are already assumed to fail however, resulting in a series of rushed hybrid/EV products, the obliteration of the diesel-powered passenger vehicles, and companies desperate to team up with the manufacturers that came in under the regulatory limits.

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By on October 28, 2020

Jaguar Land Rover is putting 90 million pounds ($118 million) into its rainy day fund in case it’s fined by the European Union for failing to meet CO2 emission-reduction targets. Delays in launching plug-in hybrid models, stalled by WLTP efficiency estimates that didn’t quite reach a best-case scenario, have left the automaker above the allotted EU fleet average of 95 grams per kilometer.

“We are not happy that we will not be compliant in 2020, but a lot of that has been taken out of our hands,” JLR CFO Adrian Mardell said during Tuesday’s quarterly earnings call with investors.

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By on October 26, 2020

Fiat Chrysler and PSA Group are reportedly in the homestretch of their $38 billion merger deal and on the cusp of becoming Stellantis  the planet’s fourth largest automaker by volume. The plan is to join forces to help absorb the monumental cost of developing alternative energy vehicles (like EVs) without losing any brands or shuttering any facilities that weren’t previously marked for death. We’re inclined to believe it when we see it, however, as the duo are also targeting an annual cost reduction of 5 billion euros (about $5.91 billion USD).

It also hasn’t been a smoothest of regulatory rides. After spending years hunting for the perfect partner, FCA and PSA had to adjust the terms of their existing deal to contend with losses incurred as a result of the pandemic response. But it all seems to be fine now and the European Commission has given approval and that’s what matters in finally getting this deal done.

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By on October 15, 2020

Ford badge emblem logo

Ford is joining the lengthening list of automakers that cannot adhere to European emissions mandates this year and is pursuing the popular option of simply buying carbon credits from rivals who managed to sell more than a few electrified vehicles.

Under the EU rules, manufacturers can “earn” carbon credits by selling more EVs. But legacy automakers were hamstrung all year by the pandemic and Ford is on the hook for a recall of its Kuga (Escape) PHEV. The Blue Oval recalled almost 21,000 examples of the plug-in hybrid in August, asking owners not to drive the crossover in its electric-only mode and to avoid charging the battery. While alarming in its own right, Ford said the recall effectively makes it impossible for it to meet 2020 EU emission quotas. It is now seeking partners for an “open emissions pool” and is hardly the only manufacturer doing this.

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By on October 14, 2020

Those of you familiar with vintage motorcars will recall that there was once a period in history where hood ornaments weren’t the classy exception but the rule. Automakers have been affixing their corporate iconography to the top of vehicles since before there were seat belts, tapping members of the animal kingdom, indigenous leaders who opposed the British (back when such things were acceptable), winged letters of the alphabet, rocket ships, and just about everything else one could imagine wanting to stick atop an automobile. But most of those have been modified to suit the times and/or relocated onto the grille in an effort to avoid impaling pedestrians (Ed. note: And perhaps theft. I think my grandparents had the hood ornament stolen off their mid-’90s era Buick once. — TH).

While a few companies attempted to get around government safety regulations by implementing flexibly mounted hood ornaments designed to avoid stabbing the person you’ve already done the disservice of hitting with your car, just about all of them have given up the ghost by 2020. The only notable exception is Rolls-Royce, which has spent a fortune designing a spring-loaded device that snaps its famous Spirit of Ecstasy (aka the Flying Lady) down inside the engine bay whenever a moderate amount of force is applied.

The company has since decided to update its ornament to allow drivers to retract it on demand. It has also started offering a £3,500 option that makes Spirit of Ecstasy an illuminated crystal bauble that has suddenly run afoul of the European Union’s new light pollution regulations. Rolls-Royce will need to remove it from its brochures and customers will be forced to neuter their vehicles if they want to be compliant with the law.

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By on September 1, 2020

Updated rules have granted the European Commission the ability to not only check cars for emissions compliance, but also issue recalls for those found in violation.

Previously, recalls were required to be issued by the EU member nations that initially certified the vehicles. But the European Commission claims this tactic has allowed automakers to easily circumvent regulatory mandates, making large-scale recalls slower to progress for almost a decade. Following Volkswagen’s diesel emissions scandal in 2015, the EU ramped up efforts to consolidate regulatory powers after the United States was the one that initially busted the German automaker for cheating during pollution tests.

The European Commission will now be able to enact recalls on its own authority and fine automakers up to 30,000 euros ($35,725 USD) per vehicle. Those in broad opposition of giving Brussels additional authority have criticized the changes, while those supportive of the EU claim it will be able to deliver environmental justice more swiftly than individual nations. (Read More…)

By on May 26, 2020

Volkswagen’s emission-related malfeasance was promptly identified and dealt with in the United States. The company was accused of using suspect software to game testing scores on diesel-equipped models in 2015. By October of 2016, VW was on the hook for a $15.6 billion financial penalty, in addition to mandatory fixes or buybacks on affected vehicles.

Things progressed differently on the European front. Germany has subjected the manufacturer to numerous investigations, ultimately deciding to fine the firm $1.18 billion in 2018 and enact widespread recalls. Civil suits have largely focused on VW’s legal representatives denying the software had any ill intent, claiming it was simply code that mistakenly allowed the cars to become non-compliant with regulatory limits. This didn’t fly, however, with a gigantic UK lawsuit finding the automaker guilty of intentionally misleading customers in April.

This week, VW lost another important legal battle in Germany when the Bundesgerichtshof found it guilty of cheating on emissions testing years earlier. The Federal Court of Justice in Karlsruhe decided disenfranchised diesel van owner Herbert Gilbert was entitled to a €28,000 payday, setting a precedent for thousands of other claimants seeking revenge.  (Read More…)

By on May 21, 2020

The European Commission is reportedly preparing an economic stimulus package aimed at helping the EU bounce back from economic hardships caused by the coronavirus lockdown — saving some room for incentivized electric vehicle sales.

As you may have noticed in your home country, stimulus package proposals often involve lawmakers attempting to slip something in to aid their favorite causes. While not every nation in the EU feels similarly on all matters, environmentalism has been a reoccurring theme within the union — and has encouraged it to make aggressive decisions when it comes to promoting vehicles.

For decades, the European Union spent billions in subsidies and tax breaks to make diesel fuel cheaper than gasoline. Diesel engines produced less carbon dioxide and opened the door to biofuels, so the presumption was they were better for air pollution. That turned out not to be true, so the continent then pushed hard into subsidizing EVs, with diesel sales crumbling as a result.

Now seen as the only way to save the world from heavy, gas guzzling crossovers that people actually buy in great numbers, battery electric cars are getting their moment in the sun. And it may get a little brighter. The next EU stimulus package is set to include €20 billion ($22 billion USD) for those deciding to purchase an environmentally friendly passenger car.  (Read More…)

By on May 11, 2020

FCA sign, Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles

The European Union’s antitrust regulators could easily allow the proposed $50 billion merger between Fiat Chrysler and France’s PSA Group to sail onward unopposed… or decide to throw a wrench into the works.

Both companies started funneling the necessary applications to the European Commission back in February, but Monday brought word of a decision date: on or before June 17th. (Read More…)

By on April 17, 2020

The coronavirus pandemic took a sizable bite out of new car registrations in the European Union last month. Volume was down 51.8 percent in March (including the United Kingdom), according to the European Auto Industry Association. While some of the absent vehicles are potentially waiting on official documents to come through after lockdown measures ease, most can be explained by the general lack of demand. Everyone knew last month would be a tough one, with the nations experiencing worst outbreaks likely see the largest sales disparities.

While no country was left unscathed, Reuters reports that Italy performed quite poorly in comparison to its neighbors. As it was the first European nation to report widespread contagion of COVID-19, that’s hardly surprising, and may indicate that its neighbors are about to find themselves in a similarly undesirable situation.  (Read More…)

By on January 27, 2020

2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit, Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles

While Volkswagen remains the industrial face of diesel-related scandals, it’s just one of many automakers fingered for emissions cheating. VW was simply the first to be dragged through the coals, and its great shame encouraged governments around the world to launch investigations into whether or not other manufacturers are guilty of similarly uncouth behavior.

Dutch road authority RDW has a problem with diesel models produced by Jeep and Suzuki. While Europe has fallen out of love with the diesel of late, the accusations are a little worse than simply falling to adhere to EU emission standards. RDW says the two automakers used “prohibited emissions strategies” that allowed vehicles to emit higher levels of nitrogen oxide (NOx) on the road than during testing conditions.  (Read More…)

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