AutoGuide News Blog
The AutoGuide News Blog is your source for breaking stories from the auto industry. Delivering news immediately, the AutoGuide Blog is constantly updated with the latest information, photos and video from manufacturers, auto shows, the aftermarket and professional racing.
President Barack Obama announced a new $200 million tax credit for the development of alternative fuel technologies in a continued effort to reduce U.S. oil consumption.
A Tesla fan is petitioning the White House stop requiring cars to be sold through third-party dealers.
Roughly two thirds of motorists polled in a newly-released survey by AAA support increased federal spending on infrastructure.
The Obama Administration will help federal agencies add 10,000 hybrids to their fleets in a move that will save 1 million gallons of fuel per year over the vehicle’s lifespans.
Electric cars… Are they a silent killer? Lawmakers worry that they might be, but the solution has some automakers up in arms.
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is backing away from its previously announced plan to see 1 million electric cars on U.S. roads by 2015, saying the timeline isn’t really all that important.
More than half of the alternative-fuel cars bought by government agencies last year were built by Asian automakers.
Event Data Recorders (EDRs), commonly called “black boxes” are already installed in about 90 percent of new cars, but a new rule is expected from NHTSA making them mandatory for all cars and light trucks.
Likely behind countless sleepless nights among the world’s automotive engineers, the Obama administration’s mandate for improved fuel efficiency was expected to take effect yesterday, but the gun remains unfired.
Not long after 9/11, the California DMV started selling memorial license plates under the promise that the proceeds would go toward scholarships for children of the victims, or anti-terrorist initiatives, but the money isn’t making it home.
The new year is rapidly approaching and with it a host of new vehicles begging to be driven are sitting in dealer lots waiting to wow shoppers. When it comes to new cars, those shoppers often expect more for less as new models hit the showroom, but that wont be the case for electric vehicles like the Nissan Leaf (pictured above).
Next year the government is removing three of the four subsidies available to consumers as incentives to adopt the new technology. The fourth, and arguably most important, will remain in the coming year. A total of $8,500 in tax incentives will get the ax as the ball drops in Times Square, which represents more than half of the total $16,000 in incentives offered this year. Consumers buying EVs next year won’t enjoy this year’s $1,000 maximum to install a home charging station, $2,500 maximum for two- or three-wheeled EVs with 2.5-kWh batteries or larger and the $4,000 maximum for converting either a hybrid to plug-in or a regular ICE to EV power.
People purchasing EVs will still be eligible to receive up to $7,500 in tax credits for buying a new plug-in vehicle, though the subsidy depends on the size of the battery in the vehicle. These incentives are meant to boost the number of EVs sold and will be phased out on a per-manufacturer basis once the individual automakers sell more than 200,000 plug-ins.
It might be good to act before the new year if you’ve been planning on cashing in with those incentives, but don’t worry about losing out on the $7,500 credit that will remain. The 200,000 vehicle figure isn’t likely to be hit any time soon thanks to low selection and relatively high prices for EVs with or without bonuses.
Chrysler filed documents with the Security and Exchange Commission that revealed that parent company Fiat has a one year option to increase its stake in the American automaker to as much as 70 percent.
The increase is contingent on Chrysler repaying its government loans, and the automaker will be issuing new debt in a bid to allow Fiat to up its stake from 30 to 46 percent. Currently, the United States treasury holds an 8.6 percent stake in the company, but that should be reduced by year end, when Fiat begins production of an American made vehicle capable of hitting 40 mpg. The United States government is hoping to fully divest itself from Chrysler as soon as possible.
[Source: Automotive News]
Chrysler is preparing to pay back $6.6 billion on government loans, but the company will do so not from its own cash but by re-financing existing debt.
Current terms of the government loans have Chrysler paying 12 percent interest per year. While Chrysler would not be out of debt, they would theoretically free themselves from the high interest rates and no longer owe money to both the Canadian and U.S. governments. An official announcement regarding the re-financing is expected later today.
[Source: USA Today]
Lotus may build their next generation Esprit sports car outside of the United Kingdom after its request for a $50 million loan to build a new factory was rejected by an investment arm of the British government.
The loan was intended for a new factory in the Norfolk area of Britain, which would employ 1200 people and build models like the new Elan and Esprit. Other automakers have been given loans by the government, and Lotus released a statement saying “following this decision Group Lotus is currently exploring all available options including the possibility of submitting an updated bid for round two of the RGF, which is set to close on July 1.”
If a British facility cannot be procured, Lotus may build the new cars as Valmet’s factory in Finland or Magna-Steyr’s plant in Austria, where the Porsche Boxster and Aston Martin Rapide are respectively built.
[Source: Auto Express]
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is investigating the possibility of making keyless ignitions a mandatory item for cars, as a means of providing drivers with a way to shut off the engine quickly in case of emergencies.
NHTSA is also considering banning the devices altogether, and mandating the use of a physical key, since the public is already familiar with their workings – although it seems nonsensical in light of the all-or-nothing nature of their proposed regulation.
The Society of Automotive Engineers has already drawn up technical standards related to the keyless ignition systems, and these would be adopted by NHTSA should the push-start technology become mandatory. The main stipulation of the proposed rule would be a common method to shut off the engine, involving a multiple second push of the start button, or something similar.
[Source: Automotive News]
When dealing with an authoritarian state that exercises substantial government control of the economy, you generally know whose rules you’re playing by – and everyone from automakers to tech companies are happy to capitulate to the demands of the Chinese government, with car companies establishing joint ventures with local automakers for the sake of being able to compete in the world’s largest auto market.
China is stipulating that around 30 percent of additional capacity (as agreed upon in existing contracts) will have to be set aside for the Chinese market and sold under separate, low-cost brands. According to an analyst quoted by the Financial Times, the motive is not so much profit as intellectual property. Chinese car makers are often denied access to the more advanced technologies when they embark on a joint venture process, and the report seems to suggest that auto makers will have to bend to the will of Chinese industry in order to keep getting market access.
A House of Representatives committee introduced a bill that would stop the EPA from regulating greenhouse gas emissions from motor vehicles from the year 2015 onwards, a key part of a national fuel economy program that is actually favored by many automakers.
While the bill was supposedly passed in the interest of keeping vehicle prices low for consumers, automakers have previously backed a single unified fuel economy system, rather than various state-by-state regulations. The automakers have not commented on the bill, introduced by House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI), but reiterated their support for a national program. Upton’s bill would leave NHTSA as the sole federal agency that was responsible for the program.
[Source: Automotive News]
The Hyundai Sonata’s production delay due to the removal of an on-off switch for its sound emitting device looks like a smart move now that the federal government is looking to not only make the devices mandatory for hybrid and electric cars, but bar automakers from allowing drivers to cancel the systems via a dash mounted switch.
Since vehicles with electric propulsion systems are silent at idle, or when the electric drive is engaged, regulatory bodies fear that pedestrians are at risk if they are unable to hear the vehicles. With some hybrids able to operate at up to 62 mph before the gas engine engages, their fears may not be unfounded.
NHTSA expects a definitive ruling within the next three years, but in the mean time, don’t expect automakers to hedge their bets any time soon, with new hybrids and EVs likely featuring a mandatory chirp or other noise when they hit the market.
[Source: Automotive News]
The federal government, under the jurisdiction of Homeland Security, started investigating the importation of grey-market Nissan Skylines, tracking down their owners and even seizing the cars.
According to import laws, only a select few R33 Skylines from 1996 to 1998 can be legally brought to U.S. shores. The rest came by an importer that failed to import cars with spectacularly disastrous results; the cars weren’t DOT-certified, failed to meet crash and emissions standards, and the importer went out of business. As a result, the owners are faced with “contraband” cars.
One such owner has two Skylines, both with extensive paperwork and one that was old enough to be exempt from vehicle importation laws. The other, however, was deemed illegal and was to be seized—but when federal agents arrived, the owner had a surprise: “I made it very clear that my intent was to retain ownership for the time being and export the vehicle from the country,” he said on a forum post, “and that I had already made arrangements for a sale to be conducted as well as export of the vehicle.”
With the sale of his illicit Skyline, the owner now seeks to challenge these convoluted import laws, many of which were changed after the owners imported their cars.
The Skyline community will not be taking this lying down, either, and have already reached out to get the Specialty Equipment Manufacturers Association (SEMA) involved. After all, how many people in America own Skylines—a handful? Enough to fill a Nissan Elgrand or two? Let’s hope they aren’t a strong enough threat to national stability that would get the Department of Homeland Security involved in their fight against JDM motoring.