12 States Want America Out Of Gas-Powered Cars

The GM EV1 in 1996, a part of the California ZEV mandate story. Can one state alone reshape the American auto landscape?
The GM EV1 in 1996, a part of the California ZEV mandate story. Can one state alone reshape the American auto landscape?
Photo: Getty Images (Getty Images)
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Some states want out of this whole fuel-burning cars thing, and they want Joe Biden’s help to make the split. That and more in The Morning Shift for April 21, 2021.

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1st Gear: They Don’t Need Them, They Don’t Want Them

A lot of states in this country produce gas-burning cars, and rely on them for jobs. A lot of states, however, do not. They don’t have a vested interest in internal combustion engines, and it’s no surprise that now 12 of them are banding together to collectively ban the things nationwide by 2035.

Here are the states in question:

California

New York

Massachusetts

North Carolina

Connecticut

Hawaii

Maine

New Jersey

New Mexico

Oregon

Washington State

Rhode Island

This comes after individual state mandates like the ones from California and Washington. It means expanding from banning fuel-burning car sales within their borders to banning them nationwide. For that, they need help from Biden, as Reuters reports:

In a letter that was seen by Reuters, the governors, which also include those of Connecticut, Hawaii, Maine, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Washington State and Rhode Island, urged Biden to set standards “to ensure that all new passenger cars and light-duty trucks sold are zero-emission no later than 2035 with significant milestones along the way to monitor progress.”

They argued that “by establishing a clear regulatory path to ensuring that all vehicles sold in the United States are zero-emission, we can finally clear the air and create high-road jobs.”

The governors also want Biden to set standards and adopt incentives aimed at ensuring 100% zero-emission sales of medium-duty and heavy-duty vehicles by 2045.

The White House did not immediately comment on the governors’ letter.

I wish these 12 the best on convincing states that profit off of the sales of ICE-powered cars to give up their money. There really is no way this happens without a government plan to subsidize the switch to electric power, both in terms of cost to the consumer and jobs guarantees.

2nd Gear: Everyone Is Getting In On Solid State Batteries

The Shanghai Auto Show has been going on this week, and we’ve seen more manufacturers starting to claim they have 620-mile range EVs on the way. Behind these proclamations are deeper ones promoting solid state batteries, as is the case with Chinese startup Nio. It’s new tech that hasn’t quite hit mainstream production yet, and the auto industry wants in, as Automotive News reports:

After years of behind-the-scenes work, Factorial Energy was spun into its own company earlier this year. It made its first public pronouncements Tuesday. Foremost among them: It named Joe Taylor, former chairman and CEO of Panasonic Corp. North America, as its executive chairman.

A number of other automotive veterans are filling key roles. Dieter Zetsche joins Factorial’s advisory board. Former Ford CEO Mark Fields and Harry Wilson, former senior adviser to President Obama’s auto industry task force during the Great Recession, are among investors.

For an industry charging toward an electric future, the allure of solid-state batteries is strong. They could be a springboard toward longer ranges, faster recharging time and enhanced safety.

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This is all still “I’ll believe it when I see it” territory, but it is the direction that the car industry seems to be going.

3rd Gear: Everyone Knows Hertz Is Worthless, Everyone Wants Hertz

Hertz was GameStop before GameStop was GameStop, a company made worthless during the pandemic and boosted far outside any sensible value by wahoo stock market players. The dust eventually settled on Hertz, and it faces two new issues: bankruptcy, and the hungry wolves of traditional finance. Bloomberg calls it a bankruptcy bidding war:

Knighthead Capital Management and Certares Management for a second time sweetened their proposal to buy Hertz out of bankruptcy as the rental car company’s board meets to review bids, according to people with knowledge of the matter told Bloomberg.

The latest plan, which was submitted Tuesday afternoon, would hand shareholders more value — specifically a 40 percent stake in the reorganized company through a combination of direct investment and a more than $1 billion equity rights offering, the people said.

Representatives for Knighthead and Certares declined to comment. A representative for Hertz didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

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All of this seems like a lot of money to throw around a rental agency, but maybe all of y’all will be flying and renting cars in a few weeks.

4th Gear: U.S. Indicts Two Italians Over Ram And Jeep Diesel Cheating

This pertains to VM Motori and diesels we saw in Rams and Jeeps, as Automotive News reports:

Federal prosecutors unsealed charges against two Italian nationals Tuesday for their alleged role in a conspiracy to defraud U.S. regulators and customers about the fuel efficiency of more than 100,000 diesel vehicles sold in the U.S. by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.

Sergio Pasini, 43, of Ferrera, Italy, and Gianluca Sabbioni, 55, of Sala Bolognese, Italy — two senior diesel managers at FCA Italy, a subsidiary of Stellantis N.V. — conducted their alleged scheme with Emanuele Palma, 42, of Bloomfield Hills, Mich., who was charged in 2019.

[...]

The indictment says Pasini, Sabbioni and Palma were responsible for developing and calibrating the 3.0-liter diesel engine used in the 2014-16 models of the Ram 1500 and Jeep Grand Cherokee. The filing says their work included calibrating several software features in the vehicles’ emissions control systems to meet emissions standards.

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All of this only ever reminds me of the time Mazda claimed it was going to bring a diesel over to the States and never did. What did Mazda know that everyone else did not?

5th Gear: Car Industry Wants Safety Ratings Updated

America has been behind the times on car safety for decades now, and the auto industry wants things more up to date, per Automotive News:

As part of its plan for modernizing NHTSA’s New Car Assessment Program, or NCAP, the alliance has proposed five recommendations to keep the program current by evaluating and rating new and advanced safety and performance features in today’s vehicles.

Specifically, the alliance recommends:

1. Regularly updating the program by identifying new safety technologies that could be included in the ratings system.

2. Engaging annually with stakeholders to provide information on R&D efforts and gain insight on future technologies and technical challenges.

3. Maintaining a consistent three-year review-and-update cycle for the program that considers other safety rating programs such as Euro NCAP and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s Top Safety Pick awards.

4. Conducting periodic reviews of the program’s effectiveness.

5. Prioritizing rule-making to remove regulatory barriers related to advanced technology that could hinder innovation.

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Normally, I go on and on about how the car industry only ever wants to save its ass and cloud regulatory agencies, but we are really behind in certifying new car tech. Tesla is running wild and we still don’t have cool and safe self-dipping laser headlights like they do in Europe. Something’s not right.

Reverse: GM Had So Much Market Share In The U.S. It Feared Getting Broken Up As A Monopoly

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Neutral: How Are You?

Today is shot two for me. Wish me luck.

Raphael Orlove is features editor for Jalopnik.

DISCUSSION

Once these states realize how much money they’ll have to spend to make their electric infrastructure robust enough to support widespread BEV use they’ll change their tune REAL quick.