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White House Knew Key Justification for Cutting Mileage Rules Was False

Reducing fuel economy standards will increase, not cut, highway deaths, according to EPA data.

by on Aug.15, 2018

The Trump Administration claimed that cutting the mileage standards would save lives, but internal EPA e-mails show the opposite to be true.

When the White House announced plans to rollback Obama-era fuel economy standards earlier this month, administration officials claimed the move would lead to a reduction in U.S. roadway fatalities. But senior staffers at the Environmental Protection Agency actually warned that quite the opposite was likely, and that the regulatory changes would increase highway deaths.

Internal e-mails sent by EPA officials to the Office of Management and Budget, or OMB, raise new questions about the plans to freeze the Corporate Average Fuel Economy, or CAFE, standards at 2020 levels, well short of the 54.5 mpg target that was to be phased in through 2025. And the messages appear to give new ammunition to those attempting to block the rollback in court.

Keeping Things Honest!

The “proposed standards are detrimental to safety, rather than beneficial,” William Charmley, the director of the EPA’s assessments and standards division wrote to the OMB on June 18, the interagency e-mail indicating highway fatalities could be expected to increase by 17 annually.

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Can the Flintstones and Jetsons Sell America on EVs?

New ad campaign brings back two classic cartoon families.

by on Aug.13, 2018

The Electrify America ad campaign plays up the fun-to-drive aspects of battery-cars as much as their environmental benefits.

There’s an electrified revolution heading for your local showroom, with dozens of hybrids, plug-ins and pure battery-electric vehicles coming to market over the next few years. The challenge the industry faces is getting consumers to plug in. All forms of battery-based vehicles accounted for barely 3% of the total U.S. market last year.

Building awareness is a key goal for Electrify America, the project backed by $2 billion from Volkswagen, part of the settlement of its diesel emissions scandal. The 10-year effort makes its public debut this week with an ad campaign pitching the virtues of battery-electric vehicles. And to help get the message across, it’s borrowing the theme music from two Boomer-era cartoon shows, the Flintstones and the Jetsons.

We Keep You Plugged In!

The first spot, dubbed JetStones, features a number of new battery-electric vehicles, or BEVs, and will air on national and local cable television, with a radio version running in both English and Spanish. At the same time, Electrify America will begin placing a network of high-speed charging stations across the country.

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California Thumbs Nose at Trump on Clean Air Standard

State plans to adhere to Obama-era rules.

by on Aug.10, 2018

California plans to stay with its tougher, Obama-era fuel economy and emissions standards.

The California Air Resources Board has come out swinging in its battle with over clean-air and fuel efficiency standards.

CARB, which will bear the burden of any clash with the administration, re-affirmed its commitment to the standards set in place by an agreement between the State of California and the Obama administration to ensure that cars and light-duty trucks for model years 2021–25 continue to meet standards that protect public health, save consumers money, and fight climate change.

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“Dirty, gas guzzling vehicles are a direct assault on public health and foreclose our ability to rein in air pollution and greenhouse gases,” said CARB Chair Mary D. Nichols in a statement. “California will take all actions to ensure that the smart standards we developed in partnership with the auto industry to cut greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles stay in place.” (more…)

More Japanese Companies Guilty of Falsifying Emissions Tests

Suzuki, Mazda and Yamaha latest offenders.

by on Aug.09, 2018

Suzuki's Toshihiro Suzuki apologized to customers after it was discovered the company certified emissions tests on vehicles that actually failed.

Three more Japanese automakers admitted to using falsified emissions data to inspect their new vehicles after a government-ordered review of procedures by the automotive and motorcycle industries.

Suzuki Motor Corp., Mazda Motor Corp. and Yamaha Motor Co. each told Japan’s Transport Ministry they certified products after they’d failed emissions tests. They follow Nissan Motor Co. and Subaru Corp. in admitting to the improper inspections.

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Japan’s transport ministry ordered 23 Japanese auto and motorbike manufacturers to examine their inspection procedures in July following similar mistakes made by other companies at final product quality checks. (more…)

Infiniti Set to Reveal “Electrified” Concept at Pebble Beach

Show car will “underline the electrified performance theme."

by on Aug.09, 2018

Infiniti is offering a tease of its Pebble Beach Concept.

It’s going to be a busy week when everyone starts rolling into California for the week-long celebration leading up to the annual Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. Automakers from around the world are promising to use the Concours and related events as backdrop to unveil an array of production cars and concepts later this month.

That includes Infiniti which today dropped some hints about the electric luxury model it will launch on the Pebble Beach show. While the Nissan luxury brand is being coy about details, it hints that the show car will “underline the electrified performance theme” that it has announced for future products, virtually all models set to be offered with some form of battery-based drivetrain – with an emphasis on plug-in hybrids and pure battery-electric vehicles.

What a Concept!

“Our new concept provides clues to where the Infiniti brand is heading,” said the brand’s design director Karim Habib, in a statement accompanying this teaser image. “For us, electrification means performance – our electrified cars will be powerful, efficient, and a joy to drive, and the new concept is a physical representation of our electrified performance future.”

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16 Miles of Smart, Safe and Sustainable Highway Being Built in Rural Georgia

The Ray envisioned as a testbed for tomorrow’s sustainable roadways.

by on Aug.08, 2018

A car drives over a stretch of solar pavement installed along "The Ray," on Georgia's I-85.

Just north of the Alabama border, a 16-mile stretch of Interstate 85 has become an infrastructural experiment that could transform the way highways across the country are designed, engineered and built in the years ahead.

Known as “The Ray,” and named after Ray C. Anderson, an environmentally minded Georgia industrialist, the experimental roadway introduces a variety of services and features designed to encourage both safer and greener driving. That include solar panels built right into the roadway. The project also uses recycled materials, including ground-up tires, to make the pavement itself more durable.

Innovative!

“On 16 miles of interstate in Georgia, we’re innovating the highway corridor from the ground up, creating a living lab that tests and proves what’s possible for roadway ecosystems across the globe,” organizers said when the project was first dedicated two years ago.

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GM Hopes for Compromise in Looming CAFE Clash

Consistency is key for product development.

by on Aug.07, 2018

General Motors President Dan Ammann said the automaker is hoping government policy on fuel economy will help foster innovation.

Despite the uncertainty, General Motors is hoping the unfolding debate over fuel economy triggered by the administration of President Donald Trump will lead to an outcome that can foster innovation.

Ammann acknowledged as he fielded questions from reporters after an appearance at the Billington Cybersecurity Automotive Summit in Detroit that the proposal by the administration to freeze fuel-economy standards has created challenges.

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“We’re obviously in a long-cycle business,” said Ammann, who was careful not to endorse the administration’s proposal, which also challenges the state of California’s ability to set its own fuel-economy and emission rules for automakers.  (more…)

Former Worker Countersues Tesla Over Sabotage Claim

Martin Tripp alleges automaker tried to cover up quality problems.

by on Aug.06, 2018

Former employee Martin Tripp claims he was fired after trying to report problems at Tesla's Gigafactory.

A former employee at the Gigafactory battery plant has sued Tesla after it claimed he committed sabotage and stole intellectual property.

Martin Tripp was fired by the battery-carmaker in June and subsequently sued by Tesla for allegedly sabotaging the company’s manufacturing system and also stealing its intellectual property. In turn, Tripp has filed a whistleblower complaint with the Securities and Exchange Commission, while also filing a lawsuit against Tesla.

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In the lawsuit, the former employee said the carmaker took action after he “raised his concerns about the seemingly exorbitant amounts of scrap” being produced at the Gigafactory, though “no action was taken.” Tripp even sent an email to Tesla CEO on May 16, 2018 expressing his concerns and backing them up with “graphical charts.”

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Automakers Caught “In Limbo” As New CAFE Rules Face Major Legal Hurdles

Anticipated court battle could delay changes for years.

by on Aug.03, 2018

Automakers are caught in the middle over the CAFE debate and could face even more challenges if the proposed Trump rollback drags on in court.

Despite, or perhaps because of, the Trump Administration’s plan to roll back the Corporate Average Fuel Economy, automakers are finding themselves in what one long-time industry analyst calls “limbo,” and it could be a year or more before they’ll actually be able to incorporate the CAFE update into their plans due to anticipated legal challenges.

As a result, it could be well into the upcoming decade before the White House revisions actually have any significant impact, according to numerous industry executives who spoke to TheDetroitBureau.com, if any changes ever actually occur.

Insight!

There is the very real possibility that the courts could rule against the proposed changes or that the legal battle drags on long enough for a new administration to come into office and revert back to the guidelines established under the Obama White House. As a result, automakers and suppliers face a major conundrum when it comes to planning for products set to come out through the middle of the coming decade.

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19 States, DC Launch Legal Move to Block CAFE Cuts

“We are prepared to put the brakes on this reckless and illegal plan.”

by on Aug.02, 2018

Massachusetts Attorney-General Maura Healey is taking the lead in opposing the CAFE cuts.

It didn’t take long for the backlash to begin as critics took aim at the White House effort to roll back the federal mileage mandate, 19 states, along with the District of Columbia, announcing plans to sue the Trump Administration.

The plan revealed Thursday would freeze the Corporate Average Fuel Economy, or CAFE, standard at 37 miles per gallon, the target automakers had been expected to achieve by 2020, on the way to an official target of 54.5 mpg by 2025 – though the original, real-world number would be in the low to mid-40 range. The administration said the move would not only save new vehicle buyers an average of $2,340 but also save 1,000 lives annually. Critics, however, contend the move will increase demand for imported oil, boost household energy costs and worsen global warming.

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Breaking News!

“We are prepared to go to court to put the brakes on this reckless and illegal plan,” the coalition of states attorneys-general, led by Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, said in a news release.

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