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EV Charging Companies Demanding Watchdog for Volkswagen

Companies concerned VW can tip competitive balance.

by on Aug.10, 2016

Some companies are concerned that VW's $2 billion infrastructure investment for zero-emissions vehicles could change competitive balance among EV charging companies.

Volkswagen’s about-face embracing electronic vehicles was seen by many as a move to improve the company’s image in the aftermath of the diesel emissions scandal. However, could the company benefit from the diesel scandal? EV companies are lining up to make sure it doesn’t happen.

Part of the German automaker’s $14.7 billion settlement calls for it invest $2 billion into – $1.2 billion nationwide and $800 million in California – into zero-emissions infrastructure. Much of that is likely to go into charging stations for EVs.

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However, there’s a problem: that could mean they can influence whatever chargers get installed, and that’s a big problem is your company is on the outside looking in when it comes to the selection process. (more…)

CARB Forcing VW, Audi, Porsche to Fix More Diesels

Sport-utility powerplants have cheat code.

by on Nov.30, 2015

The California Air Resources Board ordered Porsche and Audi vehicles using a 3.0-liter diesel engine to brought into compliance.

The Volkswagen Group faces new challenges in selling diesel-powered Porsche and Audi utility vehicles in the state of California.

The California Air Resources Board today sent an In Use Compliance letter notifying Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche to start the process necessary to recall and repair illegal emissions software in all 3.0-liter diesel vehicles, model years 2009 – 2015, sold in California.

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Audi has played up the performance advantages of the 3.0-liter diesel engines used in utility vehicles, such as the Audi Q7, and the 3.0-liter diesel is popular in Porsche’s two most popular utility vehicles, the Cayenne and Macan. (more…)

Gas-Powered Cars Could Soon Become Exception, Not Rule, in California

State clean air chief wants nearly 100% Zero-Emission Vehicles by 2030.

by on Aug.10, 2015

The California Air Resources Board continues its push to zero emissions from vehicles by 2030, which means EV makers like Tesla could be big winners in California.

With gas prices plunging, clean air proponents are watching as sales of battery-based vehicles take a nosedive. But don’t tell that to Mary Nichols, the director of the powerful California Air Resources Board. Whether through financial incentives or fiat, Nichols expects to see nearly 100% of the cars sold in the Golden State by 2030 powered by batteries, hydrogen or some other clean source of energy.

California’s Zero-Emissions Vehicle, or ZEV, mandate, has already shaken up the automotive industry. This year, it sets a goal of having 2.7% of the vehicles sold in the state run on alternative power – just like the battery-powered Honda Fit Nichols herself drives.

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“If we’re going to get our transportation system off petroleum,” Nichols said in an interview with Bloomberg news service, “we’ve got to get people used to a zero-emissions world, not just a little-bit-better version of the world they have now.” (more…)

New California Rules Could Push Millions More “Clean” Cars on the Road

Industry officials largely supporting new plan.

by on Jan.27, 2012

New California rules would put millions of plug-ins, like this Ford C-Max Energi, battery and hydrogen cars on the state's roads by 2025.

California’s environmental regulators have announced plans to tighten already strict emissions rules that were previously aimed at putting at least 1.4 million plug-in hybrids and battery cars on the state’s roads by 2025 – a move that could add millions more “clean cars” to the total.

Though industry officials have expressed concerns for the technical and cost implications, a wide range of companies, including General Motors, Ford, Chrysler and Nissan, told the California Air Resources Board, or CARB, that they’ll support the latest mandates.

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The new rules would require that by 2025 at least one of every seven vehicles sold in California would have to be a plug-in hybrid, extended-range electric vehicle or pure battery-electric vehicle, or BEV.

“We can’t afford to wait. We have to act on these issues now,” said CARB Chairman Mary Nichols during hearings on the proposed new rules. “Our projections show continued growth in population and vehicle miles traveled, which will affect air quality for years to come.”

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Just How Clean Is The Chevrolet Volt?

California regulators raise some concerns about emissions.

by on Oct.25, 2010

The 2011 Chevrolet Volt takes a hit in California's emissions tests.

Just how green is the Chevrolet Volt?  Not nearly as much as you might think – at least according to the results of a new test by the California Air Resources Board.

The agency has ruled that General Motors’ new plug-in hybrid falls short of not only conventional hybrids, like the Toyota Prius and Honda Insight but even the new diesel-powered Jetta TDI in a key test.  As a result, Volt not only doesn’t get a coveted PZEV (for Partial Zero-Emission Vehicle) rating but misses the next-best SULEV category and slips into the rankings as a ULEV vehicle.

But observers caution that the 2011 Chevy Volt may be taking hits because of its own efficiencies, ironically.  And California regulators may take steps to modify their rules so vehicles like Volt, designed to run primarily in electric mode, get the technical benefit of the doubt.

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The eagerly-awaited Volt has faced its fair share of controversy lately.  Earlier this month, a debate began swirling over what the Chevy battery car actually should be called.  Since the debut of the original Volt concept, GM had argued that it was an “extended-range electric vehicles,” since the car’s wheels, according to the maker, would only ever be driven by its two electric motors.

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California Regulators Just Say “No” to Chevrolet Volt HOV Access and a $5,000 Tax Credit

Senior GM exec sees no sales "impact." Volt to qualify in 2012?

by on Jul.28, 2010

The Chevrolet Volt is moving from prototype to production, but it won't have access to commuter lanes along the way.

Is it a show of favoritism or simply the strict interpretation of the rules?  Either way, buyers of the new Chevrolet Volt will not get the coveted sticker that gives them access to the California’s fast-moving commuter lanes, nor will they qualify for a potential $5,000 state-funded rebate.

But those who opt for another new battery car, the 2011 Nissan Leaf, will qualify for both, according to the California Air Resources Board.  Considering both vehicles will soon go to market with lease rates of $350 a month, it raises the possibility that CARB will, in effect, be lending support to Nissan at Chevy’s expense.

While a senior General Motors official is clearly disappointed, he stresses that some tweaks to the Volt emission system should allow it to qualify for the HOV – or High-Occupancy Vehicle – lane pass and tax break by 2012, a little more than a year after the first Volt rolls into dealer showrooms. (See Single Occupant Honda CNG and Fuel Cell Vehicles Granted California High Occupancy Vehicle Access)

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In the meantime, insists Volt’s program chief Tony Posawatz, “The car won’t have trouble selling,” especially during the first year, he tells TheDetroitBureau.com, when availability of what is technically known as an extended-range electric vehicle, or E-REV, will be limited to just 10,000 vehicles.

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Comments on Pending EPA Greenhouse Gas Rules Create Conflicting Claims as Deadline Nears

Pressure groups insist their position is "Greenest."

by on Apr.03, 2009

Obama's lead on fuel economy, Ray LaHood, will sort the politics and the policy in this high stakes issue.

Obama's lead on fuel economy, Ray LaHood, will sort politics from policy in this high stakes issue.

Facing a Monday deadline for written comments to the Environmental Protection Agency regarding its proposal for the first national greenhouse gas reporting rule, lobbying efforts by special interest groups are intensifying. Tied up in this issue is whether EPA will grant a waiver that will allow California and 13 states to bypass federal fuel economy regulations. Since this California coalition accounts for 40% of the new vehicles sold in the U.S., the stakes are high for automakers, environmentalists and new car buyers alike. EPA will hold public hearings on April 6 and 7, and it says it will consider written comments submitted with the same weight as the oral arguments presented.

In question are the types of vehicles you will be allowed to buy, where you can buy them, and maybe even how much more they will cost. Critics say if the waiver is granted, some vehicles won’t be available in the stricter states, though consumers might buy them elsewhere and move them into banned areas, as many California dealers believe will happen, providing a boon for dealers in Oregon and Nevada. The exemptions for wealthy buyers in the California bill are also troubling. Also affected will be auto industry jobs, and the location of those jobs —  here or overseas – in the midst of an economic collapse. 

The communications being sent out of Washington are typical of the now almost universal approach to such conflicts. One e-mail exhortation begins simply enough saying that only days remain “for citizens to demand that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) allow states to legally regulate global warming pollution from cars. 

 “At UCS (Union of Concerned Scientists) we are doing everything we can right now to ensure the voices of tens of thousands of concerned citizens are heard in Washington. If you care about a healthy environment and want more consumer choices for clean cars, this is your chance to make a real difference,” says Michelle Robinson, Director, Clean Vehicles Program.  (more…)

The California Department of Hypocrisy

Beverly Hills constituents are exempted from proposed fuel economy laws on luxury cars. You’re likely not.

by on Mar.09, 2009

More than 40% of U.S. vehicle sales are affected by the CARB regulation.

More than 40% of U.S. vehicle sales are affected by the proposed CARB regulation of greenhouse gases.

Hypocrisy in government is growing as fast as the budget deficit and unemployment lines. The proposal by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and 13 — mostly eastern –states, and the District of Columbia to establish their own fuel economy and greenhouse gas programs continues to be controversial for its fragmenting of Environmental Protection Agency fuel economy regulations.

The 2005 CARB proposal was ultimately rejected by the Bush Administration last year. It is currently under review by the EPA at the request of the Obama Administration, which was elected in part because of the support of environmental pressure groups. EPA must grant a waiver for the CARB proposal to proceed and another ruling is due by April. All told, these states comprise more than 40% of the vehicles sold in the U.S. It is not even clear that any environmental benefit will accrue from such individual state actions. And no credible cost-benefit analysis exists.

Critics maintain that the CARB proposal creates regulatory and marketplace chaos with its confusing, and different standards, which are then followed by other states to varying inconsistent degrees. Without a doubt it is an administrative nightmare.

Virtually all major auto automakers oppose the regulation and have previously undertaken legal actions to prevent it. Lawmakers are trying to get promises from Chrysler and General Motors to drop opposition to the CARB proposal as part of the loan guarantees that are pending.

Worse, is the exemption in California, and presumably the “me too” states of cars bought by the ultra-wealthy. This “let them eat cake attitude” dictates what you can buy in these states and forces smaller vehicles on the road, while luxury cars and limousines continue for those who can afford them.

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Obama Orders Fast Action on CAFE and California Car Standards

Proposed CO2 rules could force a big mileage increase.

by on Jan.26, 2009

Would new CO2 rules bar big SUVs?

Would new CO2 rules bar big SUVs?

As anticipated in our preview post early this morning, President Barack Obama today made some quick moves on the auto industry’s two biggest energy and environmental issues. Although he’s not yet named a “car czar” to oversee financial aid and other federal activities on cars, Mr. Obama established that — whoever the czars or czarinas of his administration might be — they’ll all tow the line when it comes to advancing his agenda.

Signing two executive orders, the president handed one to his Secretary of Transportation and the other to his Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. DOT czar Ray LaHood was directed to quickly finalize a new Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) rule for model year 2011, and EPA czarina Lisa Jackson was ordered to provide an expedited review of California’s request to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from cars.

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