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Posts Tagged ‘auto emissions’

Fuel Economy Continues Climbing

Emissions, meanwhile, fall to record low.

by on Dec.06, 2012

Despite the fact that Hyundai and Kia had to roll back their mileage claims, the typical new vehicle sold in the US is getting record mileage.

The average fuel economy of all new vehicles sold in the United States remains at its highest level ever, while emissions are at a record low, according to the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute.

The average fuel economy or window-sticker values of cars, light trucks, minivans and sport utility vehicles purchased in November was 24.1 mpg, a full mile per gallon better than a year ago. The figure was the same as in October but up from 23.8 in September.

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The average improved despite the fact that two of the brands that have led in the improvement of fuel efficiency, Hyundai and Kia, have had to scale back their mileage claims, following an audit by the Environmental Protection Agency. The government agency, which overseas vehicle mileage standards, found both companies had flubbed standard procedures while performing the mileage tests for the government.

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Bill Ford Wants to Turn Michigan into the “Silicon Valley of Mobility”

Emphasizes benefits of “green, smart technologies.”

by on May.31, 2012

Ford Chairman Bill Ford Jr. believes Detroit and Michigan can shed their rust belt personna.

Can the Motor City shed its rust belt image and take on a persona more in line with high-tech communities like San Francisco, Palo Alto, California or Seattle? Yes, says Ford Motor Co. Chairman Bill Ford, who contends Michigan, as a whole, can be repositioned as the “Silicon Valley of Mobility.”

In a sense, it’s a matter of been-there-done-that.  In its heyday, in the early years of the 20th Century, Detroit was the quintessential American boom town, much like Silicon Valley is today.  It was dubbed by many the “Paris of the Midwest” because of its art, architecture and sophisticated lifestyle.  But things began to rapidly decline in the post-War years and today some old industrial sites are being converted back to farmland.

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But in a speech during the annual Mackinac Policy Conference, Chairman Ford insisted continuing decline is not inevitable – especially if Detroit and Michigan embrace new “green, smart technologies.”

“To address this issue, we will once again need new technologies, as well as new ways of looking at the world.  We will need to view the automobile as one element of a transportation ecosystem,” the great-grandson of Ford founder Henry Ford declared.

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BorgWarner Chief to Feds: Let Consumers Choose

Government promoted electric vehicles over other technologies.

by on Aug.05, 2010

other technologies, particularly diesel, also deserve consideration.

Other technologies, particularly diesel, deserve consideration.

Even though many in the auto industry acknowledge that the federal government’s 2009 bailout saved the domestic industry, they said it’s time for Congress and the White House to stop meddling in the industry.

Industry experts said during a session at the Management Briefing Seminars in Traverse City that the government’s grants have essentially chosen a powertrain technology rather than allowing automakers and consumers to figure out what works best.

“What we truly need from the U.S. government is a comprehensive energy policy to use as a guide,” said Tim Manganello, president and CEO of BorgWarner, a U.S.-based supplier of drivetrain parts such as turbochargers and transmissions.

The government has in recent years issued grants aimed at developing battery electric vehicles. But Manganello said other technologies, particularly diesel, also deserve consideration, not without self interest of course.

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Emissions!

He said diesels have an uphill battle because of outdated negative stereotypes, higher taxes and the government’s push for electric vehicles. But he said that diesel might be a better solution for many Americans, who typically drive long distances where they excel, while electrics have shown poor performance in that area.
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Chinese ATVs and Motorcycles Flout Emissions law

U.S. EPA may impose fines on four of China’s biggest makers.

by on Jun.30, 2010

This is the first time EPA has voided certificates of conformity for off-road or all-terrain vehicles.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today withdrew its approval of the import and sale of 200,000 gas-powered off-road motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles from China.

The agency alleges that tailpipe emissions information was either incomplete or falsified entirely. It is just the latest action that casts doubt on the quality or safety of Chinese products or the integrity of the firms that produce them.

This is the first time EPA has voided certificates of conformity for off-road or all-terrain vehicles. Moreover, it is only the second time the agency has done so for any type of vehicle.

EPA says it is considering an enforcement action under the Clean Air Act, which could lead to “significant financial penalties” against the businesses that manufactured or imported these types of recreational vehicles. The amount is still under consideration, an EPA official told me.

The revocation comes as the Obama Administration is desperately trying to prevent the U.S. Congress from introducing bills on reforming the Chinese Yuan or Renminbi (RMB), long an undervalued currency, which allows cheep Chinese goods to displace U.S. made ones. In an election year, and given the ongoing Great Recession, such bills – if introduced – will find widespread non-partisan support, and complicate the U.S.’s relationship with China, which holds large amounts of U.S. Treasury debt.

Back in May, EPA fined Pep Boys $5 million for importing non-compliant motorcycles, recreational vehicles and generators manufactured in China. (See Pep Boys Fined $5 Million for Clean Air Violations) More than 35 different Chinese manufacturers were building illegal vehicles and engines in that case.

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Foreign Intrigue!

In the latest case of the Chinese flouting U.S. law, EPA issued certificates in 2006 and 2007 to the U.S. counterparts of four of China’s largest manufacturers including Hensim USA (City of Industry, Calif.), Loncin USA (Hayward, Calif.), Peace Industry Group (Norcross, Ga.), and Seaseng (Pomona, Calif.).

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Pep Boys Fined $5 Million for Clean Air Violations

Largest importation case in history has more than 35 different Chinese manufacturers building illegal vehicles and engines.

by on May.11, 2010

Pep Boys and Baja imported at least 241,000 illegal vehicles and engines.

Manny, Moe & Jack – the Pep Boys – have agreed to take corrective measures and pay $5 million in civil penalties to settle claims that it violated the Clean Air Act.

The auto discount chain that “Does Everything for Less” was importing and selling motorcycles, recreational vehicles and generators manufactured in China that do not comply with environmental requirements, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Justice Department said.

Baja, Inc., which supplied the non-compliant vehicles to Pep Boys, is also settling with the U.S.

Equipment imported into the United States that does not meet U.S. pollution control rules is illegal, and bad for human health and the environment. In addition, it hurts U.S. companies that comply with U.S. law.

Critics say that this just the latest example of how illegal Chinese goods continue to come into the country due to the ineffectiveness and lax enforcement by U.S. Government agencies.

“Importers of foreign made vehicles and engines must comply with the same Clean Air Act requirements that apply to those selling domestic products, and this settlement demonstrates that we will take strong action to ensure that importers comply with their obligations,” said Ignacia S. Moreno, Assistant Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources Division.

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Massive Fines Proposed by EPA to Force 35.5 MPG Fuel Economy by 2016

Natural U.S. small car demand is too little without market intervention. EPA can impose a $37,500 per car fine.

by on Dec.08, 2009

Howdy pardner, want to share my ride?

That's a mighty small ride kid...

There’s a huge disconnect between natural small car demand in the U.S. and the number of small cars that makers will actually have to sell by 2016  to meet the proposed 35.5 mpg standard, according to Charles Chesbrough of CSM Worldwide consultancy.

The senior economist, in a data packed presentation today to the Automotive Press Association in Detroit, explained that to meet the standard by 2016, American new car sales of tiny A, B, and C-segment cars would have to be the same as they are in Europe today. This to me is an almost inconceivable shift, given previous behaviors from politicians and consumers. C-cars are Ford Focus, Toyota Corolla or Honda Civic in size.

In Europe, these small cars account for more than 40% of the 2009 market. While in the U.S., they represent about 5%.

How a eightfold increase in tiny car sales will be forthcoming, when U.S. gasoline prices are currently averaging $2.50 a gallon, down from a record $4 in the summer of 2008, is a huge political issue.

In Europe, of course, heavily taxed gasoline is in the $6.50-$7.50 a per gallon range. Would the Obama Administration dare to impose a $4 a gallon tax? This is only one of the nettlesome policy issues facing politicians.

U.S. energy policy – rather, the lack of the political will to impose one, we observe, going back to the first fuel crisis in 1973 — has left us as dependent today on a disruption in oil supplies as then. This remains a clear national security threat, as well as an economic one given the current fragile state of the economy.

The startling CSM sales analysis comes as a U.N. Climate Change conference in Copenhagen opened, which begins a year-long process that will likely result in rules eventually calling for an 80% reduction in CO2 gases by 2050.  G8 countries have already endorsed this.

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Chrysler Diesel Exhaust Fluid System Previews NOx Reduction Solutions for 2010

Come 2010, new diesel-powered pickups will have to meet tougher emission standards.

by on Mar.19, 2009

Another fluid to worry about in a complicated and expensive system.

Another fluid to worry about in a complicated and expensive emission control system.

It’s been said that heavy-duty pickup truck owners who haul and tow frequently have diesel running through their veins. They crave diesel’s high torque at low rpms and extended driving range between fill-ups. Soon, many will have to think about making pitstops for another fluid: urea.

Urea is the same organic compound found in urine, which has forced drivers (at least most drivers) to pause for bio-breaks ever since the car was invented. It turns out that urea, which is being sold under the more marketable name “diesel exhaust fluid,” is also a chemically efficient way to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions produced by diesel engines.

NOx is a major air pollutant that contributes to smog, asthma, and respiratory and heart diseases. It’s a byproduct of diesel’s high combustion temperatures, which results from the high frictional heat levels created by compressing air in the cylinders to the point where it can ignite diesel fuel without using a spark. This is unlike a gas engine, which uses spark ignition to burn petrol.

Come 2010, all new diesel-powered pickups will have to meet tougher federal diesel emission standards that will reduce allowable nitrogen oxide levels by 90 percent from today and by 96 percent from 1994. (more…)

Latest “Clean Air” News a Bit, er, Foggy

by on Jan.26, 2009

L.A. Smog

L.A. Smog

There’s good news and there’s bad news to be found in a recent wire-service report that reductions in air pollution have increased the average life-span of Americans.

One aspect of bad news is that the wire-service report, based on an article in the Journal of New England Medicine, is so specific that it stretches belief: “Cleaner air over the past two decades has added nearly five years to the average life expectancy in the United States.” As always, the devil lies in the details. The researchers were not scientists monkeying with test tubes but statisticians trying to prove some conventional wisdom. The pollution in question was only that from particulates, tiny particles in the air from dust, factory and power plant smoke, and diesel-engine exhausts.

The good news is this means that exhausts from California’s and Washington’s favorite whipping boy, the internal combustion engine, were not involved. It also makes it a tougher sell for the mainly import brands planning to re-introduce diesel passenger cars to the U. S. market.

The JNEM report compared particulate pollution in the 1979-83 period with that of 1999-2000, identifying a roughly one-third decline for the 51 metro areas studied. Likewise, deaths from lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) fell, increasing life expectancy from 74.3 years to 77. Both are important items of good news. The research statisticians went to great lengths to account for the wild cards in such studies: smoking, demographics, ethnicity, etc. The 51 metro areas did not include Detroit, apparently for lack of data, and in a sense that also is good news.

And yet, anyone who has dealt with mortality statistics knows there are problems. Everyone dies of a failed heart. What cause of death goes on the death certificate, generally supplied by the undertaker? Can lung cancer and COPD invariably be blamed on particulate emissions? Suppose the deceased had spent most of their lives elsewhere than the final metro area. What about tobacco smoking, gasoline-engined car exhausts, burning leaves, secondary cigarette smoke, all the usual bugaboos on the activist blame train? True, the Harvard and Brigham Young statisticians who crunched these numbers did their best to “control” for such factors, but there are practical limits because of lacking data.

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