Tag: Government

By on January 28, 2020

Policing a population is expensive. Law enforcement departments around the globe have long sought a way to tamp down costs or, more often, find better forms of supplemental revenue. Unfortunately, sending the SWAT team on a raid or hiring additional officers to patrol the highway for speeders costs money. But the price of surveillance technology continues to go down, encouraging agencies to tap into their rather robust capabilities — potentially at our expense.

China, the world leader in mass government surveillance, already has the ability to use its vast network of cameras to take over all manner of on-the-street policing. Electronic eyes are everywhere, often networked to facial recognition or plate identification technologies that enable authorities to mail you a ticket for speeding, jaywalking, or whatever else the patrolman failed to see you do in person. While some of the penalties stop at being publicly shamed via a national database or having your social credit score dropped (potentially barring you from some goods and services), these systems have also increased the number of finable offenses that make departments money.

While similar systems have been available in the United States, it seems the country’s penchant for liberty has drastically slowed their implementation. Yet it’s still happening, and there’s reason to suggest items like license plate readers and facial recognition software will soon become standard equipment for many (if not most) North American police departments.  (Read More…)

By on January 28, 2020

Northern Ireland has called off all mandated MoT inspections of passenger vehicles after it discovered that its state-run test centers are in worse condition than many of the cars undergoing testing.

It’s a black eye for the Driver & Vehicle Agency, the body tasked with ensuring vehicles meet road safety and environmental standards, but it’s a lucky reprieve for drivers fearing an upcoming test. DVA boss Paul Duffy called the situation “hugely embarrassing.” (Read More…)

By on January 17, 2020

The U.S. Senate approved changes to the North American Free Trade Agreement on Thursday, effectively replacing the 26-year-old deal with the new United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement. USMCA embraces stronger automotive content rules for the region, updates language for new technologies, and enacts sweeping labor protections aimed at uplifting the Mexican workforce. As a byproduct, it’s also likely to discourage automakers from isolating themselves south of the U.S. border in an effort to secure cheap labor.

Passing with a 89-10 vote in the Republican-controlled Senate, USMCA also allows President Donald Trump to keep his campaign promise of replacing NAFTA — a pact he often referred to as “the worst deal in history.”  (Read More…)

By on January 10, 2020

NTSBThe evidence keeps stacking up against Tesla. As the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration investigates crash after crash involving Tesla vehicles under the influence (or suspected influence) of Autopilot, when is enough too much? 

(Read More…)

By on January 10, 2020

us-capitol, public domain

Representative Debbie Dingell (D-MI) introduced new legislation on Wednesday in a bid to improve the uptake of electric vehicles in the United States. The bill, known as the USA Electrify Forward Act, would appropriate $2 billion annually for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Incentive Program between 2021 and 2035.

Dingell cited a May 2019 AAA survey that reported just 16 percent of Americans as saying they would consider an electric vehicle for their next automotive purchase, claiming something needs to be done address EV pricing, repair costs, and range. The primary focus of the bill is to help in the development and manufacturing of advanced battery technologies and anything else that might help get more Americans into EVs.  (Read More…)

By on January 9, 2020

UAW

UAW President Rory Gamble, who took the helm of a scandal-rocked union following the resignation of former prez Gary Jones late last year, is reportedly under federal investigation himself.

Gamble embarked on a wide-ranging clean-up operation soon after taking the job in the hopes of avoiding federal oversight, while at the same time charting a bribery- and corruption-free path forward for the union. The investigation’s scope is a broad one, peering beneath every stone, and Gamble claims this particular probe is par for the course. (Read More…)

By on January 7, 2020

Tokyo prosecutors issued an arrest warrant for Carlos Ghosn’s wife Carole on Tuesday for allegedly lying during testimony. While Japanese authorities have also speculated that she may have helped orchestrate the movie-like escape of her husband from the island nation, something Mr. Ghosn proactively denied, she’s only officially charged with perjury.

The warrant accuses Carole Ghosn of having falsely denied knowing or meeting individuals tied to the company who received payments from Nissan Motor before funneling a portion of those funds to a firm owned by her husband — which is one of the reasons why he was arrested in the first place(Read More…)

By on January 3, 2020

Tesla Model S Grey - Image: Tesla

Barely two weeks after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration last opened an investigation into a Tesla crash, the federal agency is once again probing a collision involving a Tesla vehicle — this one a fatal incident.

The agency announced this week that a December 29th crash in Gardena, California that killed two occupants of a 2006 Honda Civic will fall under its purview. (Read More…)

By on January 2, 2020

The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) is once again applying pressure on the Trump administration’s proposed fuel economy rollback. Similar to the complaints issued by a coalition of scientists back in March of 2018, the board expressed concerns that significant weaknesses exist in the analysis underpinning the plan that should be addressed before any rules are made final. A draft report was circulated earlier in the week, with the SAB scheduling a public meeting meeting on January 17th.

“[The] EPA always appreciates and respects the work and advice of the SAB,” the U.S. regulatory agency said in a statement. “When implemented, the [rollback] will benefit all Americans by improving the U.S. fleet’s fuel economy, reducing air pollution, and making new vehicles more affordable for all Americans.”

(Read More…)

By on December 27, 2019

Next year, the European Union plans to adopt aggressive new rules that would see automakers fined if their total annual vehicle sales exceed predetermined carbon limits. Obviously automakers aren’t thrilled with the new fines and higher emission mandates, but France is facing additional criticism for its decision to take things a step further.

France’s parliament has adopted a new law penalizing cars that emit carbon dioxide above a certain threshold while still adhering to EU regulations. Vehicles failing to adhere to the French rules will be subject to a 20,000 euros ($22,240) tax in 2020, nearly twice the current fine. Meanwhile, the country is mulling the possibility of culling EV incentives — an odd move, considering its aim to transition its populace to zero-emission vehicles. (Read More…)

By on December 23, 2019

General Motors Renaissance Center

Remember when General Motors talked about delivering an autonomous vehicle, sans steering wheel or pedals, and how the Department of Transportation said Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards basically made it impossible? Well, GM hasn’t given up the fight to disassociate drivers from driving.

The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has started talks with GM over the automaker’s petition to deploy a limited number of self-driving vehicles on American roads last Friday. Acting NHTSA Administrator James Owens told Reuters that the petition (issued in 2018) is currently under review.

“I expect we’re going to be able to move forward with these petitions soon — as soon as we can,” Owens said, suggesting a final decision would be made in 2020. “This will be a big deal because this will be the first such action that will be taken.”  (Read More…)

By on December 23, 2019

Prior to Congress taking the rest of the month off to relax and presumably gear up for an impeachment trial, they first had to settle their year-end tax package. Automakers were hoping that would include an extension of electric vehicle tax credits, but it was a doomed proposition.

An extension was initially included in the bipartisan Driving America Forward Act, which manifested this spring, before being incorporated into the Democrat-friendly GREEN Act (Growing Renewable Energy and Efficiency Now). That got it through the House but not the Republican-controlled Senate, which wasn’t interested.

While the current $7,500 EV tax credit remains in place, Tesla and General Motors have both reached their 200,000-vehicle quota. Naturally, they (and other automakers) lobbied for an expansion, one which would have seen a $7,000 credit kept in place until a manufacturer sold 600,000 electric automobiles. Several Republican lawmakers openly shared their distaste for the plan, though few more openly than Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming, who had an opposing bill — called the Fairness for Every Driver Act — interested in reducing subsidies on the grounds that EV credits have already done enough.  (Read More…)

By on December 20, 2019

us-capitol, public domain

The House of Representatives approved a new North American trade deal on Thursday, causing many to breathe a sigh of relief. The House vote sends the measure to the Senate, with the probable outcome of it being pushed through.

When is another matter, however, as Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said the measure would likely be taken up after an impeachment trial. That means we’ll be waiting until 2020. Still, the U.S. Mexico Canada Agreement (USMCA) is one step closer to replacing the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Barring a governmental curveball, the automotive industry now knows what to expect. (Read More…)

By on December 19, 2019

The roadster news just keeps getting worse for British drivers. As hyper-stringent Euro 6 emission standards come into effect in the new year, drivers in the UK will have a harder time getting their hands on a vehicle we all know and love on this side of the Atlantic.

That vehicle is the Mazda MX-5. Available with a standard 2.0-liter four-cylinder on this side of the pond, Brits can have theirs in two flavors: 1.5-liter and 2.0-liter. Come 2020, the automaker will do its best to dissuade buyers from choosing the larger mill. (Read More…)

By on December 18, 2019

tesla model 3

The country’s new car market might be in a state of turmoil, but Tesla’s plans for China haven’t changed. It still wants to capture a big chunk of the country’s “new energy” vehicle market, and the creation of a wholly owned assembly plant, plus a range of local suppliers, makes the company’s goal a near certainty.

As it struggles to ramp up production at its Shanghai facility, Tesla plans to go on a price-slashing spree in 2020, a report claims. (Read More…)

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