Tag: Pollution

By on June 5, 2019

General Motors and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles have reportedly reached an agreement to purchase federal greenhouse gas credits from Tesla. While it’s common knowledge that the electric carmaker has raked in revenue by selling credits for years, disclosures with the State of Delaware help paint a clearer picture.

Apparently, GM filed to buy credits from Tesla earlier this year while FCA bought them on several occasions in 2016, 2018, and again earlier this year. Considering FCA’s American lineup, we’re not exactly quivering with disbelief. CEO Mike Manley could show up at a press conference, light a pool of gasoline on fire, and suggest it was Dodge’s new corporate model before we’d raise an eyebrow.

As unsurprising as FCA’s inability to adhere to present-day pollution mandates happens to be, there is a story here. The rising demand for greenhouse gas credits is changing the industry in some rather interesting ways.  (Read More…)

By on October 11, 2018

With California and the Trump administration squabbling over vehicle emissions, it’s easy to assume that Europe’s green initiatives are progressing trouble free. In truth, things are a little more complicated. Europe has come together to endorse tougher emissions rules but one of its member states appears to be reaching its breaking point. Unsurprisingly, it’s the one that builds the most automobiles.

Earlier in the week, EU environment ministers announced a need for countries to decide on reduction targets for the foreseeable future. Germany has endorsed a proposed target for a 30-percent reduction by 2030, compared to 2021 levels. However, France and several other nations are pushing for a stricter 40-percent limit while Austria wants to see 35-percent reductions. Although, the most interesting thing about this is how closely Deutschland’s arguments for softer standards are to America’s.  (Read More…)

By on September 19, 2018

Sprinkle a bag of cash on an area and what happens? The highest authority in said area collects it all and then decides how to dole it out. And, just like at a children’s birthday party, the squabbling soon begins — usually sparked by one guest complaining that another got a larger slice of cake.

That’s what’s currently happening in Texas, where a city with dirtier air claims it’s being short-changed after seeing the windfall headed to a smaller, cleaner city. No fair! (Read More…)

By on July 27, 2018

The new acting administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, Andrew Wheeler, has jackknifed former EPA head Scott Pruitt’s decision to quit enforcing the strict sales limits imposed on glider trucks.

If you’re unfamiliar with the term, they’re basically new heavy commercial trucks that use old powertrains. Advocates argue that using refurbished engines and transmissions save business owners loads of cash and promote recycling, since the internals would likely end up in a scrapyard. However, many complain that glider trucks simply exist to circumvent emissions regulations.

During President Obama’s tenure, the EPA said that if gliders were allowed through 2025, they would make up a scant five percent of the freight vehicles on the road — but would account for one third of all nitrogen oxides and particulate emissions from the heavy truck fleet. A crackdown was inevitable. (Read More…)

By on April 5, 2018

After four years of consecutive growth, the United Kingdom’s automotive market has tanked for 12 months straight. The culprit is, of course, dwindling diesel sales.

Thanks to European governments latching onto the fuel as the cleaner alternative to “petrol” throughout the 1990s (subsequently incentivizing the fuel as a way to meet aggressive CO2-reduction targets), diesel-powered autos accounted for roughly half of all new auto sales between 2009 and 2017 . But diesel is now “evil” and everyone in Europe has started avoiding it.

In March, diesel sales declined by 37.2 percent — leaving the once dominant fuel with just 32 percent of the new car market. Unsurprising, as the new trend in Europe is the widespread (future) banning of the fuel in city centers. April’s sales are expected to be even lower, as the British government’s new taxes on diesel vehicles come into effect. Those fees and a weakened pound, which practically everyone has attributed to Brexit, forced new car sales in the UK down by 16 percent.  (Read More…)

By on February 20, 2018

Child Labor

Electric cars have been praised as the future savior of mankind for quite some time now, but only in the last few years have mainstream automakers promised to drive headlong into EV production. Governments around the globe encourage the transition. The reality of battery production isn’t so clear-cut, however. Unless you make your daily commute in a Mack truck, odds are good that swapping to a sparkly new four-door with a lithium-ion battery isn’t going to be better for the environment.

Currently, it takes substantially more energy to produce an electric car than a conventional internal-combustion model. EVs sourcing their energy from fossil fuel-burning power plants aren’t much better for the environment than something that runs off pump gas. In addition to that, defunct batteries have to be recycled or they become environmental hazards — and no one has quite figured out the best way to do that yet.

There’s also the issue of sourcing the materials for those batteries. EV cells need scarce precious metals like nickel and cobalt. Those materials take a lot of energy to harvest and have, unfortunately, led to an increase in child labor rates in Africa.  (Read More…)

By on December 20, 2017

2014 audi a6 tdi engine

The Environmental Protection Agency and California Air Resources Board have approved emissions repairs for another 24,000 Audi vehicles equipped with the 3.0-liter diesel V6.

Back in May, a U.S. District Judge ruled that if Volkswagen Group failed to obtain government approval for fixes on its emissions-cheating diesels, it would be forced to offer owners buy-backs. Keen not to spend even more money as a result of dieselgate, the company went to work on a solution — resulting in an initial 38,000 Audi and Porsche vehicles spared from the wrecking yard.

The new approval covers 2014-2016 Audi A6 Quattro, A7 Quattro, A8, A8L and Q5 diesel models. The vehicles are to have their defeat device software removed and various hardware components replaced to ensure emissions compliance. VW says it has now has a remedy for about 75 percent of its tainted 3.0-liters, and hopes to have a solution for the remaining 20,000 soon.  (Read More…)

By on December 6, 2017

pumping-gas fuel

California Assemblyman Phil Ting, a Democrat chairing the chamber’s budget committee, says he intends to introduce a bill that would allow the state’s motor vehicle department to register only automobiles that emit no carbon dioxide, such as battery-electric vehicles or hydrogen fuel cell cars.

The proposed legislation would ultimately ban internal combustion engines, mimicking similar actions taken by France and the United Kingdom. Ting claims that, without a plan in place, California’s attempt to dramatically reduce greenhouse emissions by 2050 will prove ineffective.  (Read More…)

By on October 2, 2017

vintage diesel fuel pump

Diesel-powered passenger vehicle sales have fallen in Europe. Data from the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA) showed diesel’s year-over-year market share plummeting in the first half of 2017, sinking from 50.2 percent to 46.3 percent of all new car registrations in the EU.

Helped by negative publicity and governmental intervention, it’s the first time diesels have dipped below the 50 percent mark since 2009. ACEA’s figures indicate 152,323 fewer diesel cars sold so far in 2017, attributing some of the decline to a renewed interest in gasoline-powered vehicles. Of course, if you aren’t buying diesel, you don’t have a lot of other options.

Still, deliveries of “alternative” vehicles — which include hybrid, electric, and natural gas-powered automobiles — also rose by more than 35 percent. Those categories now account for 5.2 percent of Europe’s total auto sales.  (Read More…)

By on August 22, 2017

vehicles air pollution smog,Image: Union of Concerned Scientists

Despite aggressive regulatory efforts to counter pollution, California emissions from on-road transportation rose by roughly 4.4 million metric tons of carbon dioxide in 2015 vs one year earlier, according to the San Francisco-based non-profit Next 10. The state also had the dubious honor of housing six of the country’s 10 most polluted cities, based on data from the American Lung Association’s annual “State of the Air” report released last April.

While topography plays a major role (cities located in valleys and basins have a tendency to trap air pollutants), much of the problem has to do with Californians driving more. Let’s face it, gas is cheap and public transit options are typically the less-enjoyable option in all but the most densely packed cities. In fact, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation has seen declining ridership over the last two years — even though the city has a major issue with traffic. (Read More…)

By on July 20, 2017

air fresheners, Tony Alter/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

China doesn’t possess the same affinity for the iconic “new car smell” that remains popular in North America. The scent itself, a conglomeration of industrial adhesive fumes and the off-gassing of various plastics, is technically toxic air pollution trapped inside the vehicle’s cabin. However, Western drivers have made it synonymous with the pleasantries of owning a new vehicle, while Chinese motorists have not.

This brings up a very important question. Are they bad people?

While it would be very easy to use this single example to conclude that China is a perverse and disturbed nation, Westerners subjected to the volatile compounds of a new car’s interior on a particularly hot day might agree that the smell, in heavy doses, occasionally leaves something to be desired. Ideally, the odor should bring a tear to the eye due to nostalgia or pride, not because it’s trying to flush out the hazardous vapors emitted by baked vinyl.

“Research shows that vehicle interiors contain a unique cocktail of hundreds of toxic chemicals that off-gas in small, confined spaces,” said Jeff Gearhart, research director at the Ecology Center, which has been researching the the smell since 2006. “Since [most of] these chemicals are not regulated, consumers have no way of knowing the dangers they face. Our testing is intended to expose those dangers and encourage manufacturers to use safer alternatives.”

Automakers have been. As a result, the intensity of new car smell has diminished quite a bit since the early 2000s. In North America, it’s largely the result of trying to exclude carcinogenic fumes from substances like polyvinyl chloride. But in China, the practice extends out to nullifying any negative associations shoppers might have with the scent by trying to eliminate it entirely. It’s the number one concern for new car buyers, and automakers and customers go to great lengths to avoid even the slightest whiff.

(Read More…)

By on June 2, 2017

Donald Trump, public domain

On Thursday, President Trump made the decision to ditch the Paris climate accord and the entire internet seemingly spent the next twelve hours calling it a misstep. Either the president possesses a hidden wisdom on the subject that nobody else can seem to fathom, or he has severely misjudged the public’s position on environmental issues. Calling the accord “unfair at the highest level to the United States,” Trump suggested the deal was detrimental to the country’s manufacturing efforts and gave other nations a financial advantage.

However, the instant feedback from the automotive industry did not appear to share his viewpoint. With nearly 200 other countries still adhering to the nonbinding Paris agreement, it’s almost as if Trump had forgotten car companies operate on a global stage. Both General Motors and Ford Motor Company issued statements in opposition to Trump’s decision.

“We believe climate change is real, and remain deeply committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions in our vehicles and our facilities,” announced Ford. “Our commitment to sustainability is why we’re investing so heavily in electrification and adding 13 new electrified vehicles to our lineup.” (Read More…)

By on May 25, 2017

2015 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 HD LTZ crew cab pickup

Suing automakers over diesel emissions violations is quickly on its way to becoming passé.

Since Volkswagen admitted to installing software that circumvented pollution laws, regulators have been on the hunt for their next big target. While it might make their efforts seem like a bit of a witch hunt, there’s good reason to be on the lookout. Studies have shown diesel emission levels are often much higher than analysts expected, with experts attributing the results to the high probability that other automakers are skirting regulatory guidelines — likely by way of defeat devices.

Daimler, Renault, and PSA Group are all being investigated in their home countries as FCA faces legal action within the United States.

General Motors is now being sued for allegedly installing defeat devices in its trucks to sidestep emissions tests, making it the sixth major manufacturer accused of diesel cheating since 2015. However, General Motors isn’t dabbling in gray areas, acting confused, or assuring the public it will get to the bottom of the accusations. It says the claims against it are flat out wrong.  (Read More…)

By on May 17, 2017

traffic (Michael Gil/Flickr)

Earlier today, we mentioned Volvo was preparing to dump its diesel-burning engines because the EU is aggressively pursuing anti-diesel legislation. While it’s easy to accuse Europe of being fraught with fringe environmentalists, the truth is that the continent spent decades avoiding restrictions on diesel-burning passenger vehicles, sold loads of them, and has suddenly found itself with its green pants around its ankles.

In addition to hazy skies, air pollution isn’t exactly great for your health. A recent study published in Nature found diesel engines produced 5 million more tons of nitrogen oxide than previously estimated for 2015. The research focused on vehicles in Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, the European Union, India, Japan, Mexico, Russia, South Korea and the United States and uncovered that we’ve grossly overestimated the amount of good being done by our global regulatory efforts. Companies are practically guaranteed to be falsifying testing results while others are openly incapable of reaching government-enforced guidelines.

Who cares? It’s not like anyone is dying, right? Well, not exactly. (Read More…)

By on February 6, 2017

automobile_exhaust_gas (Wikimedia commons)

Contrary to the popular mantra, there is a replacement for displacement. The problem is tiny engines that harness technology to boost power output aren’t the greenest things on the road. In fact, the emissions created by small two, three and four-cylinder engines are often out of all proportion to the mills’ Lilliputian displacement.

Volkswagen, realizing it’s staring down the barrel of regulatory non-compliance, has vowed to stop searching for the latest gas- and diesel-powered micro-wonder. Small is out. Normal-sized is in. (Read More…)

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