Archive for the ‘Environment’ Category

With New EQC, Mercedes-Benz Goes All-In on All-Electric

“We are flipping the switch,” says CEO Zetsche, with new Tesla challenger - and more to come.

by on Sep.04, 2018

The new Mercedes-Benz EQ features a pair of electric motors producing up to 402 hp.

Mercedes-Benz is “flipping the switch,” Daimler AG CEO Dieter Zetsche said Tuesday as he pulled the covers off the new EQC, the German brand’s new, long-range electric crossover.

The first entry from the all-new EQ sub-brand, the compact CUV won’t be alone for long, with Mercedes developing a wide range of battery-electric vehicles set to come to market by the middle of the coming decade, including the smaller EQA due out next year. Along with all-electric offerings in the works from brands as diverse as Audi, Infiniti, Volkswagen and Volvo, they pose a potentially  existential threat to Tesla, according to many industry analysts.

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“With the EQC – the first fully electric SUV from Mercedes-Benz – we are flipping the switch,” said Zetsche, during the EQC debut in Stockholm. “Electric drive is a major component in the mobility of the future. We are therefore investing more than ten billion euros in the expansion of our EQ model portfolio, and more than one billion euros in global battery production.”

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Mercedes’ Enigmatic Teaser Appears to Preview All-Electric EQ C

“Mystic Details,” says terse news release.

by on Aug.27, 2018

What might Mercedes mean by "Mystic Details"? Could it reference the distinctive accent lights expected to show up on the production EQ C crossover.

These days, we’ve become used to receiving terse news releases from automakers teasing upcoming product launches, but the one we just received from Mercedes-Benz all but reaches the limits of brevity, with just two words accompanying this image: “Mystic Details.”

While we’re not sure what the word, mystic, references, the odds seem to favor the pic being a close-up of headlight and grille details on the new Mercedes-EQ C battery-electric vehicle that will make its debut on September 4th, the first in an all-new sub-brand the German automaker will be fleshing out over the next few years.

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Roughly the size of today’s Mercedes-Benz GLC, the EQ C will be company’s first long-range all-electric model, essentially a competitor for the Tesla Model Y crossover that is still a few years away from production. It will be followed soon after by a production version of the Mercedes EQA Concept that was revealed in June.

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CEO Musk Risks Becoming Liability for Tesla

Stock plunges again after weepy interview, SEC probe revealed.

by on Aug.20, 2018

Musk has said he's been working up to 120 hours a week - but is that really benefitting Tesla?

(This story has been updated with a comment by former GM V.Chairman Bob Lutz.)

Since the era when Lee Iacocca was the seemingly ever-present face of Chrysler, perhaps no other automotive executive has been more closely linked with his company than Tesla’s constantly tweeting CEO Elon Musk – and Iacocca didn’t have access to the social media tools that routinely help Musk make headlines.

But the events of recent weeks have started raising questions about the 47-year-old Tesla chief’s role, some observers beginning to wonder whether Musk is starting to become more asset than liability. That has become underscored in recent days as backlash continues to mount over the tweet Musk posted early this month announces his goal of taking Tesla private and suggesting that the necessary funding had been “secured.”

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That has triggered a new probe by the Securities and Exchange Commission, it was revealed last week, about the same time Musk sat down by an unexpectedly emotional interview with the New York Times that raised questions about both his health and his ability to remain at Tesla’s helm and, as this week begins, it has led to new warnings about Tesla finances, the automaker’s shares taking a sharp tumble as Monday trading began on Wall Street.

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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.

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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…)