Declaring the US must “move fast” to win the world’s carmaking future, President Joe Biden on Thursday announced a commitment from the auto industry to produce electric vehicles for as much as half of US sales by the end of the decade.
Biden also wants automakers to raise gas mileage and cut tailpipe pollution between now and model year 2026. That would mark a significant step toward meeting his pledge to cut emissions and battle climate change as he pushes a history-making shift in the US from internal combustion engines to battery-powered vehicles.
He urged that the components needed to make that sweeping change — from batteries to semiconductors — be made in the United States, too, aiming for both industry and union support for the environmental effort, with the promise of new jobs and billions in federal electric vehicle investments.
Pointing to electric vehicles parked on the White House South Lawn, the president declared them a “vision of the future that is now beginning to happen.”
“The question is whether we lead or fall behind in the race for the future,” he said, “Folks, the rest of the world is moving ahead. We have to catch up.”
In obvious good spirits, the president hopped into a plug-in hybrid Jeep Wrangler Rubicon that can run solely on batteries and took a quick spin around the driveway after the ceremony.
Earlier Thursday, the administration announced there would be new mileage and anti-pollution standards from the Environmental Protection Agency and Transportation Department, part of Biden’s goal to cut US greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030. It said the auto industry had agreed to a target that 40 percent to 50 percent of new vehicle sales be electric by 2030.
Both the regulatory standards and the automakers’ voluntary target were included in an executive order that Biden signed as a gathering of auto industry leaders and lawmakers applauded.
The standards, which must go through the regulatory process, would reverse fuel economy and anti-pollution rollbacks done under President Donald Trump. At that time, the mileage increases were reduced to 1.5 percent annually through model year 2026.
The new standards would cut greenhouse gas emissions and raise fuel economy by 10 percent over the Trump rules in car model year 2023. They would get 5 percent stronger in each model year through 2026, according to an EPA statement. That’s about a 25 percent increase over four years.
The EPA said that by 2026, the proposed standards would be the toughest greenhouse emissions rules in US history.
Still, it remains to be seen how quickly consumers will be willing to embrace higher-mileage, lower-emission vehicles over less fuel-efficient SUVs, currently the industry’s top sellers. The 2030 EV targets ultimately are nonbinding, and the industry stresses that billions of dollars in electric-vehicle investments in legislation pending in Congress will be vital to meeting those goals.
Only 2.2 percent of new vehicle sales were fully electric vehicles through June, according to Edmunds.com estimates. That’s up from 1.4 percent at the same time last year.
Biden has long declared himself “a car guy,” his blue collar political persona intertwined with support for union workers and his role, as vice president, in steadying the auto industry after the economic collapse in 2008. He told General Motors CEO Mary Barra that he wanted to reserve a certain test drive.
“I have a commitment from Mary: When they make the first electric Corvette, I get to drive it,” Biden said. “Right, Mary? You think I’m kidding. I’m not kidding.”
Dave Cooke, senor vehicles analyst for the Union of Concerned Scientists, said the new rules are close to matching the final year of standards enacted when Barack Obama was president that were rolled back by Trump.
But Cooke said he is concerned that the regulations extend the number of years automakers get double credit toward complying with the standards for every electric vehicle they sell. That allows more emissions from internal combustion vehicles, he said.
Last week, The Associated Press and other news organisations reported that the Biden administration was discussing weaker mileage requirements with automakers, but they since have been strengthened. The change came after environmental groups complained publicly that they were too weak.
Transportation is the single biggest US contributor to climate change.
The deal with automakers defines electric vehicles as plug-in hybrids, fully electric vehicles and those powered by hydrogen fuel cells.
Environmental groups welcomed the movement but also said the administration should move faster.
“Given how climate change has already turned our weather so violent, it’s clear that we need to dramatically accelerate progress,” said Simon Mui of the Natural Resources Defense Council.
Scientists say human-caused global warming is increasing temperatures, raising sea levels and worsening wildfires, droughts, floods and storms globally.
Several automakers already have announced electric vehicle sales goals similar to those in the deal with the government. Last week Ford’s CEO said his company expects 40 percent of its global sales to be fully electric by 2030. General Motors has said it aspires to sell only electric passenger vehicles by 2035. Stellantis, formerly Fiat Chrysler, also pledged over 40 percent electrified vehicles by 2030.
The Trump rollback of the Obama-era standards would require the fleet of new vehicles to get a projected 29 mpg in “real world” driving by 2026. Cooke said under the Biden EPA proposal, the mileage should be similar to the 37 mpg that the Obama rules were to achieve.
General Motors, Stellantis, and Ford said in a joint statement that their recent electric-vehicle commitments show they want to lead the US in the transition from combustion vehicles.
They said such a “dramatic shift” from the US market today can only happen with policies that include incentives for electric vehicle purchases, adequate government funding for charging stations and money to expand electric vehicle manufacturing and the parts supply chain.
The United Auto Workers union, which has voiced concerns about being too hasty with an EV transition because of the potential impact on industry jobs, did not commit to endorsing the 40 percent to 50 percent EV target. But UAW said it stands behind the president to ”support his ambition not just to grow electric vehicles but also our capacity to produce them domestically with good wages and benefits.”
Biden on Thursday repeatedly extolled the virtues of American union workers and said that the challenges of climate change could present an opportunity for “good paying union jobs.”
Under a shift from internal combustion to electric power, jobs that now involve making pistons, fuel injectors and mufflers will be supplanted by the assembly of lithium-ion battery packs, electric motors, and heavy-duty wiring harnesses.
Many of those components are now built overseas, including in China. Biden has made the development of a US electric vehicle supply chain a key part of his plan to create more auto industry jobs.
In a bipartisan infrastructure bill awaiting Senate passage, there is $7.5 billion (roughly Rs. 55,630 crores) for grants to build charging stations, about half of what Biden originally proposed. He wanted $15 billion (roughly Rs. 1,11,250 crores) for 500,000 stations, plus money for tax credits and rebates to entice people into buying electric vehicles.
© Thomson Reuters 2021
Ola Electric to Launch a New EV on August 15 in India; Product Teased: All Details
Ola Electric might launch a new electric vehicle (EV) on India’s 75th Independence Day. A company executive recently teased the launch of its upcoming EV online. The launch event will be livestreamed by the company. The time and link to the livestream will shared online by the company soon. At the event, Ola Electric said it will also reveal its future plans. The company is calling the new product the “greenest EV” it has ever made. Ola Electric is yet to announce if it will be a four-wheeler or a two-wheeler.
Bhavish Aggarwal, CEO of Ola Electric, recently took to Twitter to announce that the company is going to launch another EV in India on August 15 this year. The same teaser video was also shared by the official company account. Though neither the company nor Aggarwal has revealed what the new EV is going to be, some Twitter users are speculating it to be an electric four-wheeler.
In another teaser video shared by Aggarwal on Twitter, we can see a silhouette of an electric two-wheeler. Hence, it can be expected to be another variant or model of the Ola S1 or S1 Pro. The same video teaser was also shared the company’s official Twitter account with the caption, “What’s common between Paalak Paneer, Hulk, Forest and the Ola S1 Pro? Stay tuned to find out, see you on 15th August.” Ola Electric has also used the hashtag EndICEage. Here, ICE presumably means Internal Combustion Engines.
On 15th August, we’ll be revealing the greenest EV we’ve made! Any guesses? 🇮🇳 😉 pic.twitter.com/aMFxToOSTo
— Bhavish Aggarwal (@bhash) August 7, 2022
The launch of the EV will be livestreamed by the company. The link to the live stream and specific time will be shared by the company, Aggarwal said in a tweet. At the August 15 launch event, the company is said to also unveil its “BIG” future plans, according to Aggarwal.
Ola S1 and S1 Pro scooters were launched in India in August last year. Ola Electric has been receiving flak for their E-scooters catching fire. According to a recent report, faulty battery cells and modules are said to be the cause behind Ola E-scooters catching flames.
Baidu Bags License to Operate China's First Fully Driverless Robotaxi Service
China search engine giant Baidu said on Monday it has obtained permits to operate fully driverless robotaxi services on open roads from two Chinese cities, the first of their kind in the country.
The permits, awarded by the southwestern municipality of Chongqing and the central city of Wuhan, allow commercial robotaxis to offer rides to the public without human safety drivers in the car. They come into effect on Monday.
Baidu said they marked a “turning point” in China’s policy-making towards autonomous driving.
“These permits have deep significance for the industry,” Wei Dong, chief safety operation officer of Baidu’s Intelligent Driving Group, told Reuters in an interview. “If we think of the exploration of space, this moment is equal to landing on the moon.”
At first, Baidu will deploy a batch of five fee-charging robotaxis in each city, where they will be allowed to operate in designated areas from 9am to 5pm in Wuhan and 9:30am to 4:30pm in Chongqing, the company said in a statement.
The service areas span 30 square km in Chongqing’s Yongchuan District and 13 square km in the Wuhan Economic & Technological Development Zone.
In April, Baidu’s Apollo and Toyota-backed Pony.ai said that they received permits in Beijing to deploy robotaxis without safety drivers in the driver’s seat on open roads within a 60 square km area. But the Beijing permits still require them to have a safety driver in the passenger seat. These services have started.
Baidu is also in talks with local governments in Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen, to secure licenses within a year to test fully-driverless and unpaid robotaxis in those cities, according to Wei.
China’s efforts to fast-track autonomous vehicle trials and permits come as US regulators are also pushing ahead with milestone-setting autonomous driving policies.
In January, self-driving company Cruise received a permit from the California Public Utilities Commission that allows it to offer paid and fully driverless rides from 10 pm to 6 am in select streets in San Francisco.
Apollo Go, Baidu’s robotaxi service, has operated over 1 million rides across 10 Chinese cities since its launch in 2020.
Baidu has not reported any problems with the service and has not given a breakdown for how much it has invested in the project.
© Thomson Reuters 2022
Tesla to Face US Agency Probe Into Two Crashes That Killed Motorcyclists
Two crashes involving Teslas apparently running on Autopilot are drawing scrutiny from federal regulators and point to a potential new hazard on U.S. freeways: The partially automated vehicles may not stop for motorcycles. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration sent investigation teams to two crashes last month in which Teslas collided with motorcycles on freeways in the darkness. Both were fatal.
The agency suspects that Tesla’s partially automated driver-assist system was in use in each. The agency says that once it gathers more information, it may include the crashes in an broader probe of Teslas striking emergency vehicles parked along freeways. NHTSA also is investigating over 750 complaints that Teslas can brake for no reason.
The first crash involving a motorcyclist happened at 4:47 a.m. July 7 on State Route 91, a freeway in Riverside, California. A white Tesla Model Y SUV was traveling east in the high occupancy vehicle lane. Ahead of it was a rider on a green Yamaha V-Star motorcycle, the California Highway Patrol said in a statement.
At some point, the vehicles collided, and the unidentified motorcyclist was ejected from the Yamaha. He was pronounced dead at the scene by the Fire Department.
Whether or not the Tesla was operating on Autopilot remains under investigation, a CHP spokesman said.
The second crash happened about 1:09 a.m. July 24 on Interstate 15 near Draper, Utah. A Tesla Model 3 sedan was behind a Harley-Davidson motorcycle, also in an HOV lane. “The driver of the Tesla did not see the motorcyclist and collided with the back of the motorcycle, which threw the rider from the bike,” the Utah Department of Public Safety said in a prepared statement.
The rider, identified as Landon Embry, 34, of Orem, Utah, died at the scene. The Tesla driver told authorities that he had the vehicle’s Autopilot setting on, the statement said.
Michael Brooks, acting executive director of the nonprofit Center for Auto Safety, called on NHTSA to recall Tesla’s Autopilot because it is not recognizing motorcyclists, emergency vehicles or pedestrians.
“It’s pretty clear to me, and it should be to a lot of Tesla owners by now, this stuff isn’t working properly and it’s not going to live up to the expectations, and it is putting innocent peole in danger on the roads,” Brooks said.
Since 2016, NHTSA has sent teams to 39 crashes in which automated driving systems are suspected of being in use, according to agency documents. Of those, 30 involved Teslas, including crashes that caused 19 deaths.
Brooks criticized the agency for continuing to investigate but not taking action. “What the Hell are they doing while these crashes continue to occur?” he asked. “Drivers are being lured into thinking this protects them and others on the roads, and it’s just not working.”
Musk has eliminated use of radar from his systems and relies solely on cameras and computer memory. Brooks and other safety advocates say the lack of radar hurts vision in the darkness.
Messages were left seeking comment from Tesla, which has disbanded its media relations department.
Tesla has said that Autopilot and “Full Self-Driving” cannot drive themselves, and that drivers should be ready to intervene at all times.
In a June interview, new NHTSA Administrator Steven Cliff said the agency is intensifying efforts to understand risks posed by automated vehicles so it can decide what regulations may be necessary to protect drivers, passengers and pedestrians. There are no federal regulations that directly cover either self-driving vehicles or those with partially automated driver-assist systems such as Autopilot.
The agency also says the technology holds great promise of reducing traffic crashes.
NHTSA also has ordered all automakers and tech companies with automated driving systems to report all crashes. The agency released the first batch of data in June showing that nearly 400 crashes were reported over a 10-month period, including 273 with Teslas. But it cautioned against making comparisons, saying that Tesla’s telematics allow it to gather data in real time, much faster than other companies.
Tesla’s Autopilot keeps cars in their lane and a distance behind other vehciles. The company also is using selected owners to test “Full Self-Driving” software, which is designed to complete a route on its own with human supervision. Eventually, Tesla CEO Elon Musk says the cars will drive themselves, enabling a fleet of autonomous robotaxis that will boost Tesla’s earnings. In 2019, Musk had pledged to have the robo-taxis running in 2020.
He said at the company’s annual shareholders’ meeting Thursday that “Full Self-Driving” is greatly improved, and he expects to make the software available by the end of the year to all owners who request it.
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