Ford’s Mexico Announcement Sparks Controversy

Ford_Fiesta_ST

Ford is moving to Mexico.

Well, not really, but you’d think so based on the reaction of some politicians after Ford announced plans to expand and build more vehicles in Mexico.

The Detroit automaker said it will invest $1.6 billion in a new Mexican facility and create 2,800 jobs by 2020, with construction expected to begin this summer. The plant will build small cars for export to the United States.

This is probably a good development for American car buyers because it means more affordable vehicles on dealer lots. Not everyone sees it that way, though.

Continue reading >>>

EPA Asks Volkswagen to Build Electric Cars

2015-VW-e-Golf

Volkswagen is like the kid who got caught lying to his parents.

When a kid lies, his parents may punish him by taking away his allowance, making him apologize, and possibly making him pay back the people to whom he lied.

If those punishments don’t work, or if the lie was particularly heinous, a parent might ask his or her child to contribute to solving the problem that caused the lie in the first place.

We all know that VW got caught lying to the government (and its customers) by using technology to cheat emissions tests on nearly 600,000 cars. We’re about five months into the scandal and there still isn’t a plan in place to compensate customers or fix the affected vehicles. Volkswagen will undoubtedly be fined billions of dollars for the lie and face lawsuits, but now the U.S. government has also asked the carmaker to go a step further and build cars that make lying about emissions impossible.

Continue reading >>>

Cars of the Presidential Candidates

1997_lamborghini_diablo

Today is President’s Day. It’s a day for us to sit back, relax, and contemplate the cars of the presidents.

Well, I guess we are supposed to reflect on all the great things American presidents have accomplished over the last couple of centuries while looking forward to what the next four years could bring.

Presidents typically aren’t known for their cars, because they are chauffeured from early on in their political careers and in their presidential campaigns. They are more familiar with the back seats of luxury SUVs and limos than with the driver’s seat of the Chevrolets and Fords that their constituents drive.

On this President’s Day, let’s take a moment and look at the vehicles of some of the front-runners. Maybe doing so will point us in the direction of who might be best in touch with American drivers.

Continue reading >>>

NHTSA Administrator Talks Autonomous Driving

MIT Transportation Event

Remember all the recall-related headlines of the past two years? Those manufacturer errors account for only about 2% of deaths on the road. Conversely, 94% of lives lost in motor-vehicle accidents are due to human error. These are startling numbers, which lead to sobering realizations. Back in 1970, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) was formed to study our highways and roads in an effort to minimize the risks associated with driving. As technology has advanced, this administration’s scope and responsibilities have advanced as well. Dr. Mark Rosekind, the current NHTSA Administrator, spoke with Bryan Reimer, of the New England University Transportation Center and MIT’s AgeLab, regarding the NHTSA’s role in the current and future state of autonomous driving technology.

Continue reading >>>

Should We Tax Gas While It’s Cheap?

low_gas_prices

Who doesn’t love low gas prices?

There’s a certain glee that one gets while driving through a city or down a highway and seeing those glowing gas station signs displaying prices that start with a one.

As of this writing, the national average price of regular unleaded is $1.77. You can fill up a thirsty Tahoe for around $45, which is a huge relief when compared with the $100 fill-ups that were common just a few short years ago.

When gas prices are this low, sales of SUVs and pickups go through the roof, while electric vehicles tend to languish on dealer lots for much longer.

The president has a plan that he hopes could spark some EV sales and help reduce consumption of cheap, easily available gasoline. The odds of his plan being implemented, though, aren’t good.

Continue reading >>>

Volkswagen Scandal Gets Stranger

VW's Matthias Muller

So now Volkswagen didn’t lie.

If you’ve been following the VW emissions saga with even an occasional passing glance, you know that the German automaker was caught in the midst of a lie. There’s incredibly compelling evidence that the company lied to the U.S. government about the emissions of its cars and lied to consumers who purchased those cars.

The problem, of course, was a piece of software that detected when a vehicle was being tested for emissions, allowing the car to emit acceptable levels of exhaust during testing before returning to its normal toxic-fume-spewing self once back on the road.

In the midst of a lawsuit with the United States, VW CEO Matthias Müller now says his company never lied, and the problem can be attributed to a “technical problem.”

Excuse us, but… what?

Continue reading >>>

GM, Ford Invest in Industry Changing Technology

GM-Lyft

The automotive industry could change more in the next five years than it did in the last 50.

Think about the last five decades. We’ve seen cars get bigger, faster, safer, and more fuel efficient, but we haven’t seen any radical changes in the way cars are built, marketed, sold, or driven. Our car culture is built on a fossil-fueled desire for personal transportation and the freedom to go wherever we please whenever we choose.

Things are changing, though. Ride-sharing programs are gaining in popularity and cars that can drive themselves don’t seem to be very far behind.

Here’s one of the surest signs of coming change: General Motors just placed a $500 million bet that ride sharing is the wave of the future.

Continue reading >>>

Volkswagen Sued by the United States

Volkswagen_logo

I can’t imagine anything much scarier than finding out your business is being sued by the United States of America.

Of course, to avoid that from happening, all you have to do is play by the rules and not intentionally deceive the government while taking home millions of dollars in profit. Pretty easy, right?

Volkswagen is learning that lesson the hard way. The U.S. Department of Justice has filed suit against the automaker over the emissions scandal that saw the German car giant install software in hundreds of thousands of cars to cheat emissions tests.

The allegations in the lawsuit, which accuse Volkswagen of intentionally violating the Clean Air Act by installing illegal devices to impair emission control systems in 600,000 vehicles, carries penalties that could cost Volkswagen billions of dollars. Yes, the wrath of the U.S. government will finally rain down on VW.

Continue reading >>>

Will Gas-Powered Cars Rule for Another 25 Years?

With electrics like this, how can they fail?

With electrics like this, how can they fail?

Electric cars are the transportation solution of the future, but that future might be farther away than we think.

There’s so much talk about automakers increasing the number of EVs in their fleets by 2020 that we might start believing an all-EV future is right around the corner. California has toyed with the idea of banning the sale of new gas-powered vehicles by 2030 and Norway has proposed eliminating new internal-combustion car sales by 2025.

Green Car Reports says,

If laws were passed tomorrow to limit the number of new internal-combustion cars, it would likely take almost two decades to bring half the overall fleet in that jurisdiction to electric propulsion.

No law outright banning operation of any vehicle with a tailpipe has been proposed anywhere, as far as we know, even in Norway.

Like it or not, we can be sure that gas-powered cars will account for our transportation needs for many decades to come.

Continue reading >>>

Are We Reaching the End of the Single-Occupancy Vehicle?

How do we fix this?

How do we fix this?

The way we drive in cities can’t be sustained during the years to come.

As our population grows, so do the number of vehicles in our large metropolitan areas. In 2012, over 76 percent of vehicles in the United States were occupied by one person during the average commute. There were 256 million vehicles registered in the United States in 2013, which explains the massive congestion encountered in cities across the country every day.

Although we can’t easily increase the capacity of our roads, ever more people will need access to American cities.

What’s the solution?

Well, for now, there isn’t one. But some prominent people think the end of the single-occupancy vehicle is in our future.

Continue reading >>>