Category Archives: Auto

Diesel emissions kill. What is the car industry going to do about it?

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The European Environment Agency estimates that 75,000 Europeans died prematurely as a result of nitrogen oxide poisoning in 2012 – among them 22,000 in Italy, 14,000 in Great Britain and 10,000 in Germany. In an attempt to protect the health of EU citizens, nitrogen oxide emissions limits have been established across Europe. Since 2010, that limit has been set at an annual maximum of 40 micrograms of NOx per cubic meter. Beyond that, all automobiles produced after January 2000 have been required to meet NOx emission reduction standards. Yet automakers have shamelessly flouted such emissions and health protection standards, reports Gears of Biz, a technology newsletter. Automobiles were equipped with software designed to trick laboratory ratings tests, and in normal driving conditions emissions far exceeded legal limits. A 1,500-euro ($1,750) fix could save thousands of lives – but carmakers are unwilling to pay.

German Carmakers Face Potential New Scandal Over Antitrust Issues

Germany’s high-end carmakers face a potentially destructive new scandal after European antitrust authorities said on Saturday that they were looking into allegations that Volkswagen, Daimler and BMW colluded illegally to hold down the prices of crucial technology, including emissions equipment, reports The New York Times. The emissions scandal, which came to light nearly two years ago, may now be spreading to rivals. Growing awareness of the harmful effects of diesel fumes has prompted European cities to consider bans of diesel cars and has led consumers to reject cars with diesel engines, a largely German innovation that traditionally accounted for half the market. The backlash could take on a new, far broader dimension if it turns out that the excess emissions were the result of illegal collusion by a de facto cartel. The investigation could also lead to billions of euros in fines.

The ‘Job-Killing’ Fiction Behind Trump’s Retreat on Fuel Economy Standards

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When President Trump traveled to Michigan last week to announce that his administration will reevaluate (and almost certainly weaken) a key environmental achievement of the past decade — new fuel economy and greenhouse gas standards for cars and light trucks — he alleged that “industry-killing regulations” had contributed to a loss of jobs in the U.S. automobile sector. The truth is, however, writes Yale Environment 360 that there is no factual basis for the claim that stricter standards have killed jobs. There is, however, abundant evidence that these regulations have saved Americans billions of dollars at the pump, bolstered U.S. energy independence, fostered automotive innovation, and led to major reductions in air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.

Public health impact of excess nitrous oxides emissions from Volkswagen diesel passenger vehicles in Germany

A report in Environmental Health Letters estimates that 1,200 people in Europe will die prematurely because of excess nitrous oxide emissions released in Germany after Volkswagen installed “defeat device” software that allowed the cars to cheat on emissions test.  The MIT authors also estimate that by recalling and repairing the affected cars in Germany to meet current emissions standards by the end of 2017, Volkswagen could avert 2,600 additional premature deaths and save 4.1 billion euros in health costs.

Full citation: Chossière GP, Malina R, Ashok A, et al. Public health impacts of excess NOx emissions from Volkswagen diesel passenger vehicles in Germany. Environ. Res. Lett. 2017; 12:1-14.

Lawsuit alleges automakers knew of deadly Takata air-bag defects

Court documents filed this week allege that five auto companies were aware of defects that caused Takata air bags to potentially harm or kill motorists but continued to use them anyway to save on costs, reports The Washington Post. The documents claim that Honda, Ford, BMW, Toyota and Nissan have known about the issues with the Japanese manufacturer’s air bags for more than a decade but still used them because Takata was cheaper than its competitors and could produce the bulk quantities the automakers needed, according to the court documents.

Dangerous FTC Decision on Vehicle Safety Defects

Honda Recalls 1990-2015. Honda earned the distinction as the car manufacturer with the most safety recalls, with over 13 million models affected in this period. For perspective, Honda’s recalls affected more vehicles than all the recalls of Mercedes-Benz, Hyundai, BMW, Nissan and Mitsubishi combined. Credit

A decision late last year by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) was a repudiation of their statutory duty to protect consumers, writes Cathy Chase, Vice President of Governmental Affairs at the Advocates for Auto and Highway Safety. By finalizing consent orders with General Motors (GM) and the Lithia and Koons auto dealership chains, which allow them to advertise used cars with unrepaired safety defects under recall using misleading terms, consumers are duped and safety is jeopardized.  Unsuspecting consumers will be tricked by labels such as safe, repaired for safety, having passed a rigorous inspection, and using the imprimatur of certified.  Families will walk into dealerships to buy cars, be informed that the vehicles have been given a safety stamp of approval, be required to sign a pile of papers with a message tucked in that the car may be subject to un-repaired recalls for safety issues, and will drive off the lot at their own peril and a danger of everyone on the roads.

Trump tells US automakers he’ll cut taxes and regulations, says environmentalism is out of control

U.S. President Donald Trump pushed the chief executives of General Motors, Ford and Fiat Chrysler on Tuesday to increase production in the United States and boost American employment, reports Reuters. Trump opened a meeting with GM CEO Mary Barra, Ford CEO Mark Fields and Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne at the White House by saying he wants to see new auto plants built in the United States. The new Republican president vowed to cut regulations and taxes to make it more attractive for businesses to operate in the United States…U.S. automakers have been reluctant to open new U.S. auto plants in recent years, but they have expanded operations at existing U.S. plants…With flattening U.S. auto sales and some excess capacity, U.S. automakers may be reluctant to agree to open new plants, which likely would not come online for several years. Tuesday’s gathering was the first time the CEOs of the big three automakers have met jointly with a U.S. president since a 2011 session with Barack Obama to tout a deal to nearly double fuel efficiency standards by 2025…Automakers have urged the Trump administration to rethink those aggressive fuel efficiency mandates.