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Archive for the ‘automotive’ Category

Good job San Antonio Police. Really making things safe out there:

“We can never have the kids out front,” said Kristi Flanagan. So she made a sign with a clear message, ‘Drive like your kids live here.’

“This is a residential street,” she said. “It’s not an autobahn.”

While she and her family were outside putting Christmas lights up this week, drivers weren’t paying attention. “I started pointing to my sign, trying to notify motorist to slow down there’s kids out here,” she said. Still, she says, they wouldn’t listen.

“So I took to the streets,” she said. She held the sign over her head in the middle of traffic. “We’ve received nothing but support from the community,” she said. Neighbors mostly seemed happy to see someone finally doing something, but 45 minutes later a police unit showed up.

“Issued me a class “c” misdemeanor citation,” she said. “Backwards, it’s very backwards.” She thinks the ticket should have gone to the drivers.

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In 2015, the Netherlands saw an uptick in road fatalities. Fietsersbond, the Dutch cycling group, says that one culprit is speeding in built-up areas. They want the Netherlands (and all of Europe) to require technology in automobiles that prevents speeding in 30 kph zones:

By building more safe cycle tracks we can reduce the number of deaths. This also applies to the reduction of the speed. However, we unfortunately have to conclude that the 30 kph roads are not safe enough. Indeed, it is still driven too hard. Entering more 30 kph should be accompanied by a widespread adoption of Speed Assistance, a function in a car so it does not drive over the speed limit.

Fietsersbond, Traffic Safety Netherlands, and TeamAlert want the Dutch government will actively promote this functionality and is going to push hard for a European commitment.

The technology for this already exists. GPS mapping is a mature technology, and in the US some insurance carriers already monitor driver behavior electronically. All that is needed to implement this is the “bureaucratic will” on the part of politicians and road safety regulators.

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Well, that didn’t take long. The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers is lobbying President-elect Trump to reduce or eliminate fuel economy standards. They want to re-evaluate the Obama administration’s rules for GHG and electric vehicle mandates:

Greenhouse gas and mpg targets through model year 2021 are already on the books. A required midterm evaluation is underway to determine whether proposed mpg and greenhouse gas standards through 2022 are appropriate, or if they should be changed.

The next step in the evaluation comes in 2017, likely midyear, when the next EPA administrator will propose whether the standards are appropriate or should be changed, which would kick off a rulemaking process. A final determination is due by April 2018.

The Alliance argues that that proposed determination shouldn’t happen until Trump’s administration has had a chance to review the regulations, and can lead talks between regulators and automakers about the final years of the program, which currently aim for a fleet average of more than 50 mpg.

A Technical Assessment Report issued by the EPA about the 2025 rules found that automakers were on track to comply and adopting technologies to boost efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions faster than anticipated.

The Alliance believes that the report “over-projects” the benefits of certain technologies and fails to fully consider consumer acceptance and market factors.

The Alliance membership includes the Big-3, BMW, Mercedes, Toyota, Mitsubishi, Mazda, and Volkswagen (of course).

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If true, then Volkswagen USA seriously needs to lose its license to sell or import automobiles:

The newly discovered software was detected four months ago during laboratory tests by the California Air Resources Board, one of the people said. Neither Volkswagen nor U.S. regulators have publicly disclosed the discovery.

The discovery threatens fresh anger from officials, investors and car owners just as Volkswagen is wrapping up billions of dollars in settlements with states and owners of diesel-powered vehicles in the U.S. and a recall of nearly nine million tainted diesel vehicles in Europe.

Volkswagen’s previously disclosed “defeat device” software was used on Volkswagen and Audi diesel engines to make it appear that they complied with emission standards for nitrogen oxides during lab tests.

The newly discovered software, installed on Audis with both diesel and gasoline engines, did the same with CO2 emissions standards in the U.S. and Europe, according to the people familiar with the matter.

The CARB caught the emissions-cheating software through lessons learned from the earlier probe of Volkswagen diesel engines, according to Germany’s weekly Bild am Sonntag newspaper, which earlier reported the software’s discovery.

CARB technicians conducting lab tests on Audi’s vehicles made them react as if on a road by turning the steering wheel, the people said.

When the cars deviated from lab conditions, their CO2 emissions rose dramatically.

Note that this cheat also affects gasoline engines.

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The Washington Sate chapter of the Sierra Club has joined the oil and mining industry in opposing voter initiative 732. In case you haven’t heard of this measure, it would implement a revenue-neutral carbon tax.   Dr. James Hansen proposed such a scheme back in 2009 whereby revenues from the carbon tax are returned to families and individuals (in this case through a lower sales tax).

If you are wondering why on earth they would oppose, you can try to read their reasons here and here.  I’ve tried to make sense of it, but their reasoning is contradictory and incomprehensible. This is really a new low for the Sierra Club.

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Hillary Clinton’s web site boldly announces that the priority for the first 100 days of her administration would be to implement “biggest investment in American infrastructure in decades.” Funding for $275 billion program would come not from any new taxes but “corporate tax reform”. If you are thinking that means closing tax loopholes, it is in fact quite the opposite:

Clinton has said she would finance infrastructure spending through unspecified “business tax reform.” Incoming Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer of New York said on CNBC Oct. 18 that the money would come from a lower tax rate on profits stashed overseas by U.S. corporations. Other Democrats close to the Clinton camp said they anticipate she would adopt the Schumer approach. The lower tax rate would produce a one-time bonanza as companies brought home an estimated $2.5 trillion stockpiled abroad.

Profits earned overseas are supposed to be taxed at the same 35% rate as domestic profits. Those overseas taxes are only applied when the revenues are repatriated to the US. Large companies like Apple and Microsoft have been keeping their stash overseas, while lobbying Congress to lower the tax rate. (Technically, most of these funds are already in US banks, so this is all a kind of financial fiction.) The lower tax would indeed be a bonanza for companies, as they would get a windfall in the billions — money that was supposed to be paid to the US Treasury.

As most readers know, the nation’s infrastructure deficit is the result of declining gas tax revenues. For two decades, Congress has refused to adjust the gas tax for inflation. The only reasonable solution to this problem is to return the gas-tax back to normal levels — and not by giving away billions in corporate tax breaks.

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Apple CEO Tim Cook testifying before Congress on his company’s tax avoidance

 

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Jokelahoma

No joke. The Governor of Oklahoma has declared October 13th as Oilfield Prayer Day.

oilfield_prayer_day

(click image to enlarge)

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