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    Drew Dowdell
    Drew Dowdell - CheersandGears.com
    After 30 years, the ever increasing subsidy for ethanol produced from corn has expired. When Congress adjourned for the year last week, they did not renew the ethanol subsidy that has cost taxpayers some $45 billion during its lifetime. Every gallon of ethanol pumped provided corn growers with a 45 cent subsidy. Most of the savings from ending the subsidy to go towards reducing the US's budget deficit.
    At the same time, a 54 cent per gallon tariff on ethanol imported from Brazil also expired. Brazil is twice as productive per acre of farm land by using sugar cane rather than corn. The expiration of the Brazilian ethanol tariff is unlikely to cause a rush of imported fuel as sugar prices in that country have spiked recently.
    Earlier this year Congress blocked EPA approval of E15 gasoline for use in all vehicles from 2001 and newer. E15 is a blend of 85% petroleum gasoline and 15% ethanol. Automakers unanimously protested the use of E15 in engines not designed for ethanol saying that the effect of the fuel on older engines could not be predicted. They did not want to be blamed for any engine failures caused by the new fuel.
    The ending of the subsidy clashes with a 2007 Congressional mandate that requires 15 billion gallons of bio-fuel be used in 2015 moving up to 36 billion gallons in 2022.
    Source: GreenCarReports, Detroit News

    William Maley
    The US government is pulling back on some of their financial support for electric vehicles.
    Coming this Saturday, a tax credit which allows taxpayers to deduct 30% of the cost an electric vehicle charger (good for up to $30,000 in commercial cases) will be discontinued.
    If you're thinking the 30% deduction is a bit high, last year the deduction was set at 50%.
    "The timing of this couldn't be more unfortunate," coming just as more electric cars are on the way." said Genevieve Cullen, vice president of the Electric Drive Transportation Association, a trade group for the electric-vehicle industry.
    Cullen and other proponents have been begging congress to extend the tax deduction, possibly even retroactively if passed in early 2012.
    Source: USA Today

    William Maley
    William Maley
    Editor/Reporter - CheersandGears.com
    December 27, 2011
    Mahindra, the company who promised to bring small diesel powered pickups to the US has been having their share of problems. Fallout between them and their importer, Global Vehicles USA and lawsuits from dealers have delayed the introduction.
    A couple of weeks ago, Mahindra Planet, "The Unofficial Mahindra U.S. News Source," reported that Mahindra and Navistar, the international truck and bus builder had worked out a deal to build Mahindra trucks at a new plant in Alabama starting in 2012.
    Mahindra and Navistar? Yes, the two companies have been working together since 1963 and have a joint operation in India.
    The move would allow Mahindra to bypass an importer and get their trucks on the road.
    However, Mahindra has said this week the rumor is false.
    “There have been reports in certain quarters of media and online space stating that Navistar USA will produce Mahindra’s T20 and T40 pickups in Alabama, USA in 2012, which are completely baseless & incorrect. If and when there are any material developments, Mahindra & Mahindra Limited will communicate them directly and transparently.”
    Mahindra didn't say when or if they would be arriving in the US.
    Source: Mahindra Planet, Left Lane News

    William Maley
    William Maley
    Editor/Reporter - CheersandGears.com
    December 22, 2011
    When the US Transportation Secretary, Ray LaHood thinks the NTSB’s recommendation of banning mobile electronics is a bad idea, you know it’s a bad idea. Speaking with the Detroit News, LaHood states he doesn’t supports the NTSB’s recommendation.
    "The problem is not hands-free. That is not the big problem in America."
    LaHood has been banging the drum on distracted driving in the U.S. for awhile, with him prodding states to crack down on distracted driving, especially texting or making calls behind the wheel. However, banning cell phone use in a car outright is going over the line.
    However, LaHood did extend an olive branch to the NTSB stating,
    Anybody that wants to join the chorus against distracted driving, welcome aboard. IIf other people want to work on hands-free, so be it."
    Source: The Detroit News

    William Maley
    William Maley
    Editor/Reporter - CheersandGears.com
    December 20, 2011
    Tesla has released pricing and specifications of their upcoming Model S and it looks pretty good if the company can meet them.
    The Model S' pricing is broken down by battery capacity and the range, with the 40-kWh battery pack model starting at $57,400, the 60-kWh battery pack model starting at $67,400, and the 85-kWh battery pack model starting at $77,400. There will also be a performance model which will use the 85-kWh battery pack starting at $87,400.
    Specifications of the batteries has been released, with the 40-kWh model delivering 160-mile range, a top speed of 110 miles per hour and a 100,000-mile warranty; the 60-kWh pack juicing up for 230 miles, a 120 mph top speed and a 125,000-mile warranty; and the 85-kWh battery pack delivering 300 miles of range and a 125 mph top speed in standard spec and a 130 mph top speed in the Performance version. Both versions of the 85-kWh model will come with an unlimited mileage warranty.
    Standard features in the Model S include a 17-inch touchscreen console display, 19-inch wheels, and three charge adapters. The option list for the Model S is long and includes 19-inch aerodynamic wheels, metallic paint, and an upgraded onboard charger.
    Deliveries of Model S begin in Fall 2012.
    Source: Tesla

    William Maley
    William Maley
    Editor/Reporter - CheersandGears.com
    December 19, 2011
    A new study from the University of Michigan says the proposed CAFE standards could actually make new cars larger, not smaller.
    The study used simulations of 473 different vehicles to figure how automakers could modify vehicle dimensions, implement fuel-saving technology features and trade off performance and fuel economy. Pricing was also taken into account. Their results showed that automakers would increase the size of vehicles to meet CAFE standards instead of adding technologies.
    “For just about all the scenarios, the car got bigger. What you can model in a computer is different from reality, but based on this research we expect it to happen,” said Steven Skerlos, an associate professor in the U-M Department of Mechanical Engineering.
    But why are vehicles growing? Well the study points out in 2007, the CAFE standards were revised. One of those changes was a new formula that measures a vehicle’s “footprint,” calculated by multiplying wheelbase by track width. That means larger vehicles have a smaller fuel economy target, giving automakers a loophole.
    “It’s cheaper to make large vehicles, and meeting fuel-economy standards costs [manufacturers] money in implementing and looking at what consumers will purchase,” said Katie Whitefoot, a researcher involved with the study.
    The study calls on the US government to revise its formula.
    Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required)
    Press Release & Study Result is on Page 2

    CAFE standards create profit incentive for larger vehicles

    Published on Dec 07, 2011
    Written by Nicole Casal Moore
    ANN ARBOR, Mich.-The current Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards create a financial incentive for auto companies to make bigger vehicles that are allowed to meet lower targets, according to a new University of Michigan study.
    Over their lifetimes, these larger vehicles would generate between three and ten 1,000-megawatt coal-fired power plants' worth of excess carbon emissions. A 1,000-megawatt plant could provide power for more than half a million people.
    "This study illustrates that there may be a substantial financial incentive to produce larger vehicles, and that it can undermine the goals of the policy," said Kate Whitefoot, who conducted the research as a U-M design science doctoral student and is now a senior program officer at the National Academy of Engineering.
    "The results show that the policy can be adjusted to reduce these unintended incentives by making it harder to lower the fuel economy targets by producing larger vehicles."
    The study is published online in Energy Policy.
    The loophole is the formula for setting mile-per-gallon targets. The standards, which actually depend on the sizes of vehicles automakers produce, are expected to require that firms boost average fuel economy to 35.5 mpg by 2016 and 54.5 mpg by 2025. Those oft-cited numbers are averages. In reality, each car company must meet a different standard each year determined by the literal "footprints" of the vehicles it makes. A vehicle's footprint is its track width times its wheelbase.
    According to the study, the sales-weighted average vehicle size in 2014 could increase by 1 to 16 square feet, undermining fuel economy improvements between 1 and 4 mpg. That means the industry as a whole would not achieve that year's fuel economy goal.
    "We know it's a broad range, but we looked at a large range of possible consumer preferences for vehicle attributes and the answer is probably somewhere in the middle," said Steven Skerlos, an associate professor in the U-M Department of Mechanical Engineering.
    "Will cars get bigger? Very possibly. Will that lead to more pollution? Yes. And there wasn't an emphasis in the rulemaking process that this could happen."
    The impetus for the footprint-based formula back in 2006 was to prevent an influx of smaller vehicles, though not necessarily to do the opposite. Critics worried that the previous one-size-fits-all standard unfairly and perhaps dangerously rewarded production of slimmer, lighter vehicles that could put the domestic industry at a disadvantage and drivers at greater risk. The researchers believe the correction overshot its target.
    They found that light trucks would grow even more than cars, which could yet lead to traffic safety concerns. They call on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to revise the formula.
    This study was more than just an economic analysis. Whitefoot built a first-of-its-kind model that considered supply and demand but also incorporated engineering tradeoffs that carmakers consider as well as a wide range of possible consumer preferences.
    They conducted simulations with 473 different vehicles. In the simulations, auto firms could adjust the size of their vehicles, add fuel-saving technologies, balance acceleration performance with fuel economy, and adjust vehicle prices. The result, Skerlos says, is an exciting new framework where economists, environmentalists, engineers and policymakers can work together.
    "Sustainability is about tradeoffs," Skerlos said. "On the one hand, there's a concern about vehicle size largely driven by safety and the effect on domestic automakers. The adjustment to the CAFE standard tries to achieve high fuel economy while not compromising vehicle size, and the idea here is these things intersect and you have an equivalent of three to 10 coal-fired power plants hidden in that tradeoff."
    The research is funded by the Michigan Memorial Phoenix Energy Institute and the National Science Foundation. The paper is titled "Design Incentives to Increase Vehicle Size Created from the U.S. Footprint-Based Fuel Economy Standards."

    William Maley
    William Maley
    Editor/Reporter - CheersandGears.com
    December 18, 2011
    Carbon Motors, the company behind the purpose-built E7 police vehicle sent a letter to President Obama's cabinet on Friday urging them to approve the company's Department of Energy Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing loan. Carbon Motors applied for ATVM loan program two years ago, but hasn't seen a cent of it.
    The letter goes on a point by point basis on why they deserve the loan, ranging from the environmental impact of the current fleet of police vehicles to the amount of people that would be put work to build the E7.
    The Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing loan program has been criticized for taking too long to get money to companies. Last month, U.S. Rep. Bill Flores R-Texas introduced a bill to end the program.
    Texas Senator Proposes Ending Auto Loan Program
    Letter is on Page 2
    Carbon Motors Chairman Issues Open Letter to U.S. President's Cabinet
    Carbon Motors in Support of U.S. Law Enforcement and the Role of Government
    CONNERSVILLE, Ind., Dec. 15, 2011-- The following is an open letter from William Santana Li, chairman and chief executive officer, Carbon Motors Corporation, to select members of the President's Cabinet:
    The Honorable Eric H. Holder, Jr., Attorney General, U.S. Department of Justice
    The Honorable John E. Bryson, Secretary, U.S. Department of Commerce
    The Honorable Hilda L. Solis, Secretary, U.S. Department of Labor
    The Honorable Ray LaHood, Secretary, U.S. Department of Transportation
    The Honorable Steven Chu, Secretary, U.S. Department of Energy
    The Honorable Janet A. Napolitano, Secretary, U.S. Department of Homeland Security
    The Honorable Lisa P. Jackson, Administrator, Environmental Protection Agency
    The Honorable Jacob J. Lew, Director, Office of Management & Budget
    The Honorable Joseph R. Biden, Jr., Vice President of the United States
    Dear Members of the President's Cabinet,
    I am writing to you about a matter of national significance and of great importance to our country's law enforcement first responders generally, and specifically each of the departments for which you have responsibility. We share concerns expressed by countless law enforcement professionals to us over the last nine years:
    our brave first responders are asked to secure our country, patrol our streets, and protect our communities without the appropriate equipment to empower them to do so in a manner that is safe for the officer and the public at large;
    the vehicles being used today are highly inefficient – both economically and environmentally; and
    the vast majority of the vehicles in the existing law enforcement fleet use passenger cars intended for retail consumer use and which were not manufactured on U.S. soil by American workers.
    Carbon Motors Corporation is a homeland security technology company that is developing the world's first and only purpose-built law enforcement patrol vehicle. Over two years ago, Carbon Motors filed an application for a loan of over $300 million with the Department of Energy's Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing (ATVM) program. The ATVM direct loan program was established in a bi-partisan manner by the Bush Administration and has been carried on by the Obama Administration.
    We have secured a mothballed automotive facility located in a town with unemployment at rates significantly higher than the national average – Connersville, Indiana – a victim of the fallout of automotive industry at the end of the last decade. With the ongoing criticisms aired concerning the U.S. Department of Energy's loan guarantee programs and the ATVM direct loan program, our country faces a critical decision now that will have significant impact on our first responders, taxpayers, environment, highways, our manufacturing employment base and the security of our homeland.
    There are 840,000+ law enforcement first responders – sons and daughters, mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters – who get up every morning and put themselves in harm's way to protect and serve each and every one of us, over 18,000 of them have already made the ultimate sacrifice. They patrol our streets and neighborhoods using gas-guzzling retail passenger cars that were not designed for this relentless mission and which, after the necessary aftermarket retrofitting process, do not meet federal safety standards applicable to all other passenger vehicles on the road.
    While we know each of you join in our nation's unwavering support for its first responders, we wanted to highlight certain significant issues facing each of your respective critical missions and Carbon Motors' contribution to a comprehensive solution:
    U.S. DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY; Secretary Steven Chu
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY; Administrator Lisa P. Jackson
    ISSUE: The largest and most visible combined fleet of vehicles deployed by our federal, state and local governments is among the most inefficient consuming over 1.5 billion gallons of fuel every year and emitting over 14 million tons of CO2. This at a time when our country is desperately trying to reduce its dangerous dependence on foreign oil and reduce its greenhouse gas footprint.
    SOLUTION: Approve the Carbon Motors ATVM loan and our country can begin to reduce these figures by 40%.
    U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE; Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr.
    U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY; Secretary Janet A. Napolitano
    ISSUE: Presently, our over 19,000 law enforcement agencies fend for themselves in an uncoordinated manner as they cobble together passenger vehicles meant for retail consumers with the vast array of aftermarket equipment necessary to successfully carry out their mission, while our country provides purpose-built vehicles for nearly every other unique public function – fire trucks, ambulances, postal services, trash collection, and a massive fleet of purpose-built vehicles of all types and sizes for the military.
    SOLUTION: Approve the Carbon Motors ATVM loan and our country will finally have the world's first truly purpose-built homeland security technology platform to better secure our country – inclusive of roving WMD threat detection capability. Let's focus our law enforcement resources on protecting our citizens, and put an end to the inefficient practice of operating 19,000+ uncoordinated automotive assembly operations by law enforcement agencies nationwide.
    U.S. DEPARTMENT OF LABOR; Secretary Hilda L. Solis
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY; Administrator Lisa P. Jackson
    ISSUE: With the nation hovering near double-digit unemployment rates and virtually everyone in our country rightly focused on American jobs, our state, local and federal law enforcement agencies imported the over 500,000 patrol vehicles used by our law enforcement personnel from foreign soil. This is an unacceptable use of U.S. taxpayer dollars.
    SOLUTION: Approve the Carbon Motors ATVM loan and we will bring these jobs home to America, where they rightfully belong. It is estimated that our project will create 10,000+ new American jobs of national importance by building a technological breakthrough on U.S. soil in a region decimated by the automotive downturn – and we will do so in a mothballed brownfield facility we have already begun restoring.
    ISSUE: The over 500,000 law enforcement vehicles patrolling our neighborhoods today do not meet the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, putting both our first responders and citizens on the road at risk. We, as a country, would never stand for the placement of a U.S. soldier in a similarly haphazardly-equipped vehicle and it is unacceptable to do this with our nation's brave first responders.
    SOLUTION: Approve the Carbon Motors ATVM loan and our first responders will be driving a vehicle that will meet or exceed all Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards inclusive of all the law enforcement and homeland security equipment integrated into the vehicle platform.
    OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT & BUDGET; Director Jacob J. Lew
    ISSUE: Today's practice of allowing over 19,000 law enforcement agencies across the country to individually retrofit consumer-oriented vehicles is extremely costly and inefficient, with expenditures at the local, state, and federal level expected to be on the order of $100 billion over the next decade.
    SOLUTION: Approve the Carbon Motors ATVM loan and we will provide the nation with the only product presently in the ATVM loan program that will save the government a significant amount of money. The purpose-built, turn-key distribution of the Carbon E7 will reduce maintenance costs, improve durability, and, combined with the fuel savings and the extensive capabilities of the vehicle, result in dramatic savings for U.S. taxpayers nationwide. If the entire fleet were to be converted to Carbon E7 vehicles, the country could save over $10 billion taxpayer dollars over a period of ten years.
    U.S. DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE; Secretary John E. Bryson
    ISSUE: Our nation continues to run unacceptably high trade imbalances, as American manufacturing has eroded and the nation has continued to devolve into an importer of foreign goods rather than an exporter of American innovation.
    SOLUTION: Approve the Carbon Motors ATVM loan allowing our company to complete our project and respond to the nearly three-dozen requests by countries around the world for export of our breakthrough American product helping to put even more Americans to work.
    As one of our Senior Advisors, The Honorable Lee H. Hamilton (vice-chair of the 9/11 Commission), has often remarked: the first role of government is to protect its citizens. There are lives at stake and we stand ready to do our part to better enable our first responders to meet their critical mission and, in the process, improve officer and highway safety, reduce harmful emissions and dependence on foreign oil, and put Americans back to work.
    We need your help in making this happen, especially as the matter we have raised is a cross-cabinet or interagency concern. The first step to take is the timely approval of our ATVM loan as it is in the national security and socioeconomic interests of the United States of America.
    On behalf of the 840,000+ first responders across our great country we thank you in advance for your timely support of this critical national initiative.
    William Santana Li
    Chairman and CEO
    Carbon Motors Corporation

    William Maley
    William Maley
    Editor/Reporter - CheersandGears.com
    December 17, 2011
    Steven Rattner, the former car czar that oversaw the federal bailouts of General Motors and Chrysler, said on Thursday to the Detroit Economic Club that the Obama administration's Auto Task Force should have forced all the stakeholders, including the United Auto Workers, to make more sacrifices.
    "We asked all the stakeholders to make very significant sacrifices. We should have asked the UAW to do a bit more. We did not ask any UAW member to take a cut in their pay," he told the club.
    Rattner also revealed that the US Government gave GM too much money, but on the side of caution.
    "We put more cash into GM than we probably needed to — and we knew this. It's part of why GM is so well-capitalized today."
    Source: Detroit News

    William Maley
    William Maley
    Editor/Reporter - CheersandGears.com
    December 15, 2011
    Yesterday, the Senate Commerce Committee approved a bill that would overhaul the nation's auto safety laws. The bill includes measures to raise the maximum fine for automakers that delay recalls from $17.35 million to $250 milllion.
    The bill also includes measures that would give states grants for banning texting while driving or the use of cell phones by teen drivers, increase funding for research, improve the vehicle recall database and website, create a hotline for mechanics, dealers and auto workers to complain anonymously about safety problems with vehicles, and new regulations on pedal placement, push-button ignition and electronic performance issues.
    Automakers are mixed on the bill. All of them back certain measures of the bill, but disagree on the raised fines. A coalition of groups, which include the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, Association of Global Automakers, National Association of Manufacturers and American International Automobile Dealers Association sent a letter to congress opposing the increase.
    "The proposed increases are so out of proportion either to the current penalty structure or the penalty structure for other manufacturers under the Consumer Product Safety Act as to appear unfairly punitive. The proposed increases should be scaled back to a more appropriate level," the letter states.
    Automakers also note that in 2010, the number of road deaths fell to its lowest number since 1949 (under 33,000).
    The senate hopes to include the bill in a highway reauthorization bill coming early next year.
    Source: The Detroit News

    William Maley
    Yesterday, the National Transportation Safety Board recommended a nationwide ban on using any personal electronic devices while driving. The recommendation was made to all US states.
    So what kind of personal electronic devices are we talking about? The NTSB’s director was specific about wanting to ban phone calls, texting, updating your status on facebook, etc. However, the director was less specific on possible provisions that would allow specific driving related uses like GPS.
    NTSB cited studies regarding electronic device use while driving and accident data in it’s recommendation, stating the danger is real and the time to act is now.
    The NTSB doesn’t have the power to create or enforce restrictions, it can influence federal regulators and state and local governments to create bans. Currently in the US, nine states and the District of Columbia ban talking on the phone while behind the wheel and thirty-five states ban texting while driving.
    Press Release is on Page 2

    No call, no text, no update behind the wheel: NTSB calls for nationwide ban on PEDs while driving

    Following today's Board meeting on the 2010 multi-vehicle highway accident in Gray Summit, Missouri, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) called for the first-ever nationwide ban on driver use of personal electronic devices (PEDs) while operating a motor vehicle.
    The safety recommendation specifically calls for the 50 states and the District of Columbia to ban the nonemergency use of portable electronic devices (other than those designed to support the driving task) for all drivers. The safety recommendation also urges use of the NHTSA model of high-visibility enforcement to support these bans and implementation of targeted communication campaigns to inform motorists of the new law and heightened enforcement.
    "According to NHTSA, more than 3,000 people lost their lives last year in distraction-related accidents", said Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman. "It is time for all of us to stand up for safety by turning off electronic devices when driving."
    "No call, no text, no update, is worth a human life."
    On August 5, 2010, on a section of Interstate 44 in Gray Summit, Missouri, a pickup truck ran into the back of a truck-tractor that had slowed due to an active construction zone. The pickup truck, in turn, was struck from behind by a school bus. That school bus was then hit by a second school bus that had been following. As a result, two people died and 38 others were injured.
    The NTSB's investigation revealed that the pickup driver sent and received 11 text messages in the 11 minutes preceding the accident. The last text was received moments before the pickup struck the truck-tractor.
    The Missouri accident is the most recent distraction accident the NTSB has investigated. However, the first investigation involving distraction from a wireless electronic device occurred in 2002, when a novice driver, distracted by a conversation on her cell phone, veered off the roadway in Largo, Maryland, crossed the median, flipped the car over, and killed five people.
    Since then, the NTSB has seen the deadliness of distraction across all modes of transportation.
    In 2004, an experienced motorcoach driver, distracted on his hands-free cell phone, failed to move to the center lane and struck the underside of an arched stone bridge on the George Washington Parkway in Alexandria, Virginia. Eleven of the 27 high school students were injured;
    In the 2008 collision of a commuter train with a freight train in Chatsworth, California, the commuter train engineer, who had a history of using his cell phone for personal communications while on duty, ran a red signal while texting. That train collided head on with a freight train - killing 25 and injuring dozens;
    In 2009, two airline pilots were out of radio communication with air traffic control for more than an hour because they were distracted by their personal laptops. They overflew their destination by more than 100 miles, only realizing their error when a flight attendant inquired about preparing for arrival.
    In Philadelphia in 2010, a barge being towed by a tugboat ran over an amphibious "duck" boat in the Delaware River, killing two Hungarian tourists. The tugboat mate failed to maintain a proper lookout due to repeated use of a cell-phone and laptop computer;
    In 2010, near Munfordville, Kentucky, a truck-tractor in combination with a 53-foot-long trailer, left its lane, crossed the median and collided with a 15-passenger van. The truck driver failed to maintain control of his vehicle because he was distracted by use of his cell-phone. The accident resulted in 11 fatalities
    In the last two decades, there has been exponential growth in the use of cell-phone and personal electronic devices. Globally, there are 5.3 billion mobile phone subscribers or 77 percent of the world population. In the United States, that percentage is even higher - it exceeds 100 percent.

    Further, a Virginia Tech Transportation Institute study of commercial drivers found that a safety-critical event is 163 times more likely if a driver is texting, e-mailing, or accessing the Internet.
    "The data is clear; the time to act is now. How many more lives will be lost before we, as a society, change our attitudes about the deadliness of distractions?" Hersman said.
    A synopsis of the NTSB report, including the probable cause, findings, and a complete list of the safety recommendations, will be available online after the meeting.
    The NTSB's full report will be available on the website in several weeks.

    William Maley
    If you were thinking about purchasing a new Fisker Karma, you might want to hear this.
    Fisker has announced they will be increasing prices on the Karma Plug-In hybrid sedan by 6%. That means the base Karma EcoStandard model will now have a sticker price of $102,000; an increase of $6,150. The high-end EcoChic model will see a $10,000 increase to $116,000.
    However, if you have put down a $5,000 deposit on the Karma, you're in luck. Fisker says for those who put a deposit down can purchase the Karma at the lower price until January 15.
    This isn't the first time the Karma has seen it's price go up. Back in 2008, Fisker projected the Karma to start at $80,000. However, when the Karma finally went into production this year, the price jumped to $96,850.
    Source: Inside Line

    William Maley
    William Maley
    Editor/Reporter - CheersandGears.com
    December 9, 2011
    The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration proposed today a new rule that would make all keyless ignition systems operate in the same manner.
    The proposed rule would require the system be able to turn off the engine regardless of the position the gear selector is in. The rule would also reduce the number of seconds someone has to hold the button to turn the engine and have an audible warning if the driver tries to shut the motor without first selecting Park.
    NHTSA is proposing the rule due to number of vehicles equipped with keyless ignitions. In 2002, 5,000 vehicles were equipped with keyless ignitions. In 2008, the number jumped to over 1.2 million vehicles.
    NHTSA is also citing the 2009 accident of a Lexus ES330 that killed an off-duty California Highway Patrol and three other people. The Lexus required the driver to hold the button for three seconds before the car turned off.
    NHTSA says the cost to implement this feature will be less than $500,000 a year for automakers.
    Source: The Detroit News

    William Maley
    The UAW has dropped their plans to organize a foreign automaker plant. Previously, the UAW vowed to organize one foreign auto manufacturer on U.S. soil by year’s end.
    "We're shifting our strategy a little bit. We are not going to announce a target at all. We are not going to create a fight," said UAW President Bob King.
    King's announcement comes a few days after UAW spokeswoman Michele Martin said the union wouldn't meet it's goal to unionize a foreign plant by year’s end.
    Organizing one foreign automaker plant has been a goal of King since becoming the UAW's president back in July 2010. However, the goal has turned out to be an uphill, with the majority of foreign automakers declining to hear the UAW.
    Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required)

    William Maley
    In the Math solving all of our problems file; the LA Times is reporting that MIT has developed an an algorithm that can determine whether a driver will run a red light within milliseconds.Their research is being published in the journal IEEE Transactions on Intelligent Transportation Systems.
    The group did tests at an intersection in Christianburg, VA with 15,000 vehicles passing through. Their results with the algorithm was correct 85% of the time, which is reportedly the most accurate that has been measured.
    The hope is in the future, traffic lights will be able to send the information to vehicles and have the vehicles make decisions on what to. This will help reduce the number of accidents at intersections.
    Source: LA Times

    William Maley
    William Maley
    Editor/Reporter - CheersandGears.com
    December 6, 2011
    Earlier today, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee it plans to hold a hearing in late January on the Volt battery issue.
    "It gives us great concern that recent reports indicate important safety information may have been omitted in testimony before our committee just a few weeks ago. This is a serious situation that our committee will look further into," said Jeff Solsby, a spokesman for the committee.
    The hearing Solsby is referencing to was a hearing on fuel economy standards and had Environmental Protection Agency and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration officials testify.
    The announcement comes a few weeks after NHTSA revealed a Volt caught on fire a three weeks after a side impact crash and couple weeks after NHTSA announced an investigation into the Volt batteries after further testing found two out of the three batteries had a thermal event.
    Many conservative commentators have criticized the Volt and and the government's investigation, saying the Obama administration was trying to protect GM.
    Also, the former head of NHTSA, Joan Claybrook said in Automotive News this week,
    "Not to tell them anything for six months makes no sense to me. NHTSA could have put out a consumer alert and I think they should have done so."
    Claybrook went on to say, "I believe they delayed it because of the fragility of [Volt] sales."
    "I believe the Volt is safe to drive," said US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood to reporters.
    LaHood said the government isn't protecting GM by not immediately disclosing a fire with a crashed Volt.
    "We're not in the business of protecting the auto industry. We're in the business of making sure cars are safe."
    LaHood declined to comment on status of the Volt investigation.
    Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required), The Detroit News
    Chevrolet Volt Fire Prompts Investigation Into Batteries
    NHTSA Opens Investigation Into Volt Batteries
    GM Offering Free Loaner Cars to Volt Owners During Battery Investigation
    Chevy Volt Tops Consumer Reports Owner Satisfaction Survey
    GM May Redesign The Volt's Battery *UPDATED*
    A "couple dozen" Chevrolet Volt Owners Take Up GM's Buyback Offer

    William Maley
    Saab seems to be the cat of the automotive industry with the number of lives it has. Last we heard from the Swedish company, the company was waiting on approval on a deal with Pang Da and Youngman. However, General Motors was concerned with the deal due to technologies used in Saab vehicles ending up in competitor hands.
    Now, a new deal to save Saab is in the works. Saab's parent company, Swedish Automotive is in talks with Youngman and a bank in China (possibly Bank of China).
    The plan according to SaabsUnited is to have Youngman hold 19.9%, the bank with 29.9%, and Swedish Automotive holding the rest.
    The plan is reportedly in GM's hands, awaiting approval before heading to the Chinese Government.
    Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required), SaabsUnited

    William Maley
    Aptera Motors, the company behind the odd looking, three wheel electric vehicle called the 2e has announced today they're closing up shop.
    In a letter written by Aptera Motors President and CEO, Paul Wilbur, Aptera was unable to raise enough money from investors to keep it going until it received a $150 million loan from the Department of Energy's Advance Technology Vehicle Manufacturing program.

    "This is a difficult time for everyone connected with our company because we have never been closer to realizing our vision," Wilbur wrote.

    The closure ends a saga that started back in 2006 when the company made the announcement the 2e would get the equivalent of 300 mpg and cost less than $30,000. Production of the 2e was announced to begin back in 2009, but was pushed back to 2010, with no vehicles being built.

    In August, the company returned deposits it had taken from prospective buyers of the 2e, stating a six-month window with its credit card processor to launch production had passed.

    Wilbur's letter revealed the company spent the last year developing a hybrid-powered sedan, about the same size as a Toyota Camry, which would return the equivalent of 190 mpg and have a base price less than $30,000. Also, Aptera had been negotiating to use a closed auto plant in Moraine, Ohio, to build the car.

    "We remain confident, even as this chapter closes, that Aptera has contributed tech new technologies to build a future for more efficient driving. Through the dedicated staff at Aptera, our board and suppliers we have touched this future. All that remains is for someone to grab it. We still believe it will happen," wrote Wilbur.

    Letter is on Page 2

    After years of focused effort to bring our products to the market, Aptera Motors is closing its doors, effective today. This is a difficult time for everyone connected with our company because we have never been closer to realizing our vision. Unfortunately, though, we are out of resources.
    It is especially disappointing since we were so close...
    Aptera executives had been engaged in exhaustive due diligence with the Department of Energy (DOE) pertaining to an ATVM (Advance Technology Vehicle Manufacturing) loan. Our business plan was examined from top to bottom by internal agency representatives, independent consultants and experts in academia. They did an amazing job of vetting us and they tested every possible weakness in our plan. And after nearly two years of discussions, we had recently received a Conditional Commitment Letter for a $150 million loan.
    The ATVM loan would have provided funding for the development and commercialization of a five-passenger, midsized sedan (similar to a Toyota Camry) that would be base priced at less than $30,000 and deliver more than a 190 mile per gallon equivalent. The concept of this vehicle had been in place since the very beginning of Aptera, and we had been wholly focused on its development for the last year. The last remaining hurdle was finding new funds to match the DOE loan.
    We were so optimistic that the company would move forward that we were in discussions to reactivate a mothballed automotive plant in Moraine, Ohio. In the past months we had engaged with the labor union that operated that facility to discuss the hiring of 1,400 new job opportunities. These jobs would have reactivated talented workers who had been dismissed when the facility was closed.
    During the same time, we continued development of our patent-pending composite manufacturing system that enables energy efficient vehicle production by drastically reducing vehicle weight (by as much as 30%) while tripling its strength. This same patent pending system allowed us to finish the surface of our composites without manual finishing and without the high capital cost of a typical automotive paint shop. In all, the process would save nearly $750-million versus a typical volume auto assembly plant start-up.
    We were well on the way to satisfying the vision of efficiency on which the company was founded and we are confident that with time and capital we could still achieve our goal. The Aptera formula: aerodynamics plus light weight design (through composites) delivered efficiency of 206 EPA miles per gallon in tests at Argonne National Labs. That wasn't a simulation; it was real measured performance. Despite that promise of efficiency, this challenged market – specifically large private investors – did not have an appetite to lead an investment for the perceived low volume return of our three-wheeled vehicle. So we reprioritized our product plan to four-door sedans, which also cost us time.
    We remain confident, even as this chapter closes, that Aptera has contributed tech new technologies to build a future for more efficient driving. Through the dedicated staff at Aptera, our board and suppliers we have touched this future. All that remains is for someone to grab it. We still believe it will happen.
    Paul Wilbur
    President and CEO
    Aptera Motors

    William Maley
    After finishing contract negotiations with the big three, the UAW is turning it’s focus back onto president Bob King’s goal of organizing at least one non-union plant by the end of the year.
    Foreign automakers have so far resisted the idea of unionizing. But the UAW believes they have a shot. King said to reporters on a conference call that the union has set aside $60 million to achieve their goal. The plan is for the UAW to have organizers at dealers hand out leaflets and other informational material, praising the benefits of union membership.
    The UAW hasn’t said which automaker or automakers it will target, when the push will begin or what exactly it will involved. The one thing the union is pushing is the push will “not be a picket in any way,” said Mark Gevaar, president of UAW Local 2209 in Roanoke, Indiana, where member training for the campaign took place on November 19.
    However the UAW’s track record with foreign automakers is poor. Toyota, VW, Honda, and Hyundai have all rejected the UAW before.
    “The UAW has got a really tough chore in front of them to organize these plants.They probably are going to try every tactic they can. This is important, especially to Bob,” said Schwartz, a former GM labor negotiator.

    Source: Bloomberg

    Drew Dowdell
    Update: The case against the Mercedes Benz Executive has been dropped.
    One of the latest possible “illegals” has been arrested in Alabama for not carrying his driver’s license under the new anti-illegal immigration law. The problem? The suspect is also an executive manager for Mercedes Benz.
    From the AP:
    Prior to the new law, a person driving without a license would not be arrested, but instead received a ticket and a court summons.
    Mercedes Benz’s first U.S. assembly plant, built in 1993, is located near Tuscaloosa where the arrest took place.
    Alabama’s immigration law is thought to be the toughest in the country and is currently facing several legal challenges. Parts of the law are on hold while those challenges proceed, but the part that allows officers to check immigration status during routine traffic stops is still in effect.

    William Maley
    Back in 2007, the US Congress created the Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing federal loan program to allow the US Government to loan out $25 billion to car manufacturers. The loans were created to help car manufacturers to retool factories and build more fuel-efficient vehicles.
    But those loans have been slowly trickling out. Only $9.2 of the $25 billion set aside has been used. Also, the program has been taking a long time to approve companies for loans. So far Ford, Nissan, Fisker, and Tesla have already been approved for loans. Chrysler has been waiting for eighteen months while GM has pulled their application.
    Now, a congressman from Texas wants to get rid of the program.
    U.S. Rep. Bill Flores R-Texas., has introduced a bill into Congress to end the Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing loan program.
    "My proposed bill to terminate the program prior to the end of the current fiscal year could potentially save additional billions in unused taxpayer dollars. Repealing the ATVM loan program will preserve much-needed funds to support projects that have the best chance of providing middle-class jobs here at home in the near term. It will also ensure that funds are provided for an immediate need, rather than letting them sit idly by waiting for a careless and inefficient bureaucratic process that has made little progress in the past three years.," Flores said.
    The bill is being supported by many Republicans, but Democrats, led by Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow and Rep. Gary Peters, are against the bill.
    The Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing federal loan program has been coming under a lot of scrutiny after solar panel manufacturer Solyndra LLC collapsed after receiving $528 million in loans. Last week, the White House launched a sixty-day review of the program.
    Source: The Detroit News

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