Two days after his election, major automaker lobby seeks relief from Trump

trump transportation head elaine chao route 101 california  ventura highway
oscity / 123RF Stock Photo
Automakers didn’t wait long before reaching out to President-elect Donald Trump to ask for relief from emissions standards and fuel consumption reduction requirements, according to Electrek. The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, a lobbying group that represents most of the major automakers who sell in the U.S., with the exception of Tesla, sent a letter to the Trump transition team, reports Automotive News.

The letter is focused on changing the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) greenhouse gas rules, as well as the fuel consumption standards administered by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (USDOT) National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The group wants the Trump administration to take a new look at the regulations. The letter also asks for a hold on all federal proposals made since September 1 that relate to alternate fuel vehicles and autonomous vehicle development. Proposals made during that time period encompass Obama administration actions to speed the deployment of electric cars, and proposed guidelines for autonomous vehicle development and testing from the Department of Transportation.

Automotive News obtained a copy of the letter in which alliance CEO Mitch Bainwol wrote, “We live at a moment where technology and change are swamping the regulatory capacity to manage our emerging reality. Reform is imperative.”

A major effect of increasingly tighter emissions standards and fuel consumption regulations is that they pressure automakers to invest in the development of electric cars. By 2025, manufacturer fleet averages are supposed to be at least 50 miles per gallon, which carmakers who sell huge volumes of trucks and large SUVs cannot reach without adding zero-emission, high mileage equivalent electric cars to their lines.

Automotive News cited an EPA Technical Assessment Report about the 2025 standards in which automakers were ahead of expectations on both fuel efficiency and emissions reductions. The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers dismissed the report, saying it “over-projects” technology benefits and doesn’t reflect consumer acceptance and the market. “The combination of low gas prices and the existing fuel efficiency gains from the early years of the program is undercutting consumer willingness to buy the vehicles with more expensive alternative powertrains that are necessary for the sector to comply with the more stringent standards in out-years,” wrote Bainwol.

Electrek noted the irony of recent statements by automakers in contrast to the positions taken in the Alliance letter, “On one side, most of the same automakers represented by the alliance claim to be heavily investing in electric cars and they publicly agree that electrification is the future of transport, but on the other hand, their top lobbyists are asking to reduce the requirements that apparently prompt those investments.”

Product Review

Mercedes-Benz updates the timeless G-wagen for the modern world

For decades, the G-Class has been an outlier in the Mercedes-Benz portfolio, a body-on-frame brute with the soul – and driving manners – of an off-road pickup. With the all-new G550, Mercedes seeks to smooth out some of the rough edges.

Has Apple rebooted its self-driving car program to develop autonomous vans?

The on-again, off-again Apple car is back on track, but it's not a sedan or a hatchback. It will arrive as an electric, autonomous passenger-carrying van, according to a recent report.

Apple opens up about its self-driving car program in letter to NHTSA

Apple has traditionally kept details about its self-driving car technology under wraps, but it has revealed details about the program in a rare instance of openness. The company takes safety seriously.

Amazon plugs in with $700 million investment in electric pickup company Rivian

Amazon invested $700 million for a minority stake in U.S. all-electric truck maker Rivian, according to a joint release. The announcement follows a Reuters report that GM and Amazon might invest $1 billion to $2 billion in the company.

Audi is advancing the tech that teaches cars to talk to traffic lights

Audi is teaching its cars the language of traffic lights. The company developed technology that tells motorists what speed they should drive at in order to catch as many green lights as possible.

Waymo rules and Apple trails in California self-driving car benchmarks

California's DMV releases annual reports of self-driving car disengagements on public roads. In the most recent reports. Waymo had the best performance, GM Cruise came in second, and Apple's self-driving program was in last place.

Watch a modified Audi e-tron electric SUV drive straight up a ski slope

A modified Audi e-tron climbed up an 85-percent gradient on an Austrian ski slope in a tribute to a classic Audi commercial. The vehicle used for the stunt sported an extra electric motor and spiked tires.

Mamma mia! Alfa Romeo will unveil a new model at the Geneva Auto Show

Alfa Romeo told Digital Trends it will unveil a new model at the 2019 Geneva Auto Show. It stopped short of revealing what it has in store, but rumors claim it will be a crossover positioned below the Stelvio.

Citroën says you could drive its tiny Ami One electric car without a license

Citroën's Ami One concept car is an electric vehicle that's as cute as it is compact. The miniature motor only has a top speed of 28 mph, so the French automaker imagines it as a shareable runaround for short drives.

Arizona city slammed with $10M lawsuit over fatal Uber autonomous car accident

The family of Elaine Herzberg, the woman struck and killed by one of Uber's self-driving prototypes, has filed a $10 million lawsuit against the city of Tempe, Arizona. They claim Herzberg jaywalked because she was confused by a brick…

Mercedes lets the sun shine in one last time with SLC Final Edition convertible

The Mercedes-Benz SLC convertible sports car is going out of production. Launched in 1996 as the SLK, the model has been a fixture in the Mercedes-Benz lineup across three generations.

Aston Martin’s next hypercar, due in 2021, will pack a hybrid powertrain punch

Aston Martin will follow up the Valkyrie and Valkyrie AMR Pro with a new hypercar, code-named Project 003. The car will debut in 2021, with production limited to 500 units worldwide.

Tesla will release fully self-driving cars in 2019 — with a big asterisk

Tesla reaffirmed its goal of releasing a fully self-driving car by the end of 2019, but it warned the system won't work perfectly 100 percent of the time. Convincing regulators that it's safe to use will require some effort, too.

Consumer Reports bumps the Tesla Model 3 off of its list of recommended models

The Tesla Model 3 is one of the six new cars that have lost their coveted Recommended rating from Consumer Reports over reliability concerns. In 2018, Model 3 owners reported body trim falling off and problems with the car's glass.