Good morning! Welcome to The Morning Shift, your roundup of the auto news you crave, all in one place every weekday morning. Here are the important stories you need to know, which I promise, you not only want but need to know them.
1st Gear: Where Will The Cars Go?
Sheesh, would you look at Europe—first France wants to ban all gasoline and diesel cars by 2040, and now the U.K., according to the Wall Street Journal, meaning a third of new cars sold in the European Union are accounted for now. Talk about aggressive.
While far from a knockout, the decisions by the U.K. and France—which together account for about a third of new cars sold in the European Union—are among the most aggressive moves by governments recently to legislate away the traditional gasoline- or diesel-burning engine, which has for more than 100 years been the preferred method of powering passenger vehicles.
For decades, governments have struggled to rein in the pollutants the engines caused but with few alternatives they have balked at banning them outright.
The plans still don’t come close to Norway’s goal of only allowing electric or plug-in hybrid cars by 2025. But it’s an ambitious, heavily-regulated turnaround. Maybe this is the way to bring about the electric revolution?
2nd Gear: Trump Wants To Freeze Fuel Standards
Reading about U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration, you get the sense that his policy agenda moves at a glacial pace. But a plan to revamp fuel efficiency standards set by his predecessor has been expected for some time. And now it looks like federal officials are looking to freeze fuel standards set for 2021, and completely derail the goal of 54 mpg by 2025, reports Reuters.
The U.S. Transportation Department said on Tuesday it may revise auto fuel efficiency requirements starting with the 2021 model year, a year earlier than previously disclosed, and could adopt lower standards through 2025.
In March, President Donald Trump ordered a review of U.S. vehicle fuel-efficiency standards from model year 2022 through 2025 established under the Obama administration. U.S. regulators said in a notice published Tuesday they are preparing a new environmental impact statement and could decide to freeze 2021 standards through 2025, rather than raising them every year.
If that’s the move, I can’t see how it jibes with standards set by the strict California Air Resources Board, which makes you have to wonder if Trump’s next move would be to strip the CARB of its power to do just that.
3rd Gear: Ford CEO Has A Nice Start
Ford had some good news to share on Wednesday for its newly-minted CEO JIm Hackett: profits are up because of a lower tax rate, according to Bloomberg. It’s a positive note amid a car industry that’s facing a slowdown.
Hackett took over Ford’s top job after the board ousted his predecessor Mark Fields for not acting decisively to reverse a three-year stock slide. Credited with reviving office-furniture maker Steelcase Inc., Hackett has a mandate to both clarify and accelerate Ford’s strategy to take on Silicon Valley in the race to driverless cars. In the meantime, the automaker is cutting costs as a dry spell in new model introductions coincides with the U.S. auto market declining for the first time in eight years.
And Hackett’s already made moves to save money by moving a Focus production facility from Mexico to a factory that already exists in China, saving the company an expected $500 million, according to Bloomberg. It’s only one quarter, but it’s definitely a start that Hackett surely appreciates.
4th Gear: Google Wants Uber’s Lawyers Gone From Big Robotcar Case
The high-profile autonomous car lawsuit involving Uber and Google’s self-driving car project Waymo has been slowly trudging along as of late. There’s procedural back-and-forths between both sides ahead of the expected trial in October, but now, Waymo wants Uber’s attorneys off the case. Why? They allegedly helped aid a coverup of stolen Google trade secrets, the company says.
Bloomberg has more:
Uber relied heavily on attorneys at San Francisco’s Morrison & Foerster LLP, or MoFo, to suss out and contain any proprietary information that may have been taken by one of Waymo’s lead engineers, Anthony Levandowski, when he abruptly quit last year. He later joined Uber, bringing with him other former engineers from the Alphabet Inc.unit’s self-driving unit.
Waymo wants jurors in the case to hear about how Uber’s attorneys handled the acquisition of Levandowski’s former self-driving truck startup, Otto.
Waymo claims the law firm trafficked in stolen files –- or at least descriptions of stolen files -– when its lawyers helped structure the Ottomotto acquisition. That’s why MoFo’s lawyers should be required to testify and the firm as a whole should be disqualified from defending Uber, Waymo argues.
“MoFo attorneys appear all over critical, relevant documents to this case,” Waymo argued in a court filing. “Possession by MoFo of stolen documents, the circumstances under which it acquired those documents, and the treatment of those documents after acquisition by MoFo are all directly relevant to Waymo’s trade secret claims.”
This trial is going to be wild.
5th Gear: Tesla Gets Top Consumer Reports Spot Again
Consumer Reports had a problem back in April with Tesla’s slow rollout of an automatic emergency braking system for the automaker’s new Autopilot. That was a problem for Tesla, which enjoyed touting an impossible claim of earning 5.4 stars out of 5 in crash tests.
Well, the braking system has been revamped, and now Tesla has recaptured the top Consumer Reports spot, Bloomberg reports.
The magazine boosted the Model S sedan’s rating Tuesday when it confirmed that the upper limit of Tesla’s automatic braking system was 90 miles per hour, as with the vehicles the automaker built before October. In April, Consumer Reports downgradedthe Model S by two points on its 100-point scale after Tesla took months to deploy the feature on its newer vehicles.
That still doesn’t resolve Tesla’s vehement disdain for the Insurance Institute For Highway Safety.
Reverse: Tragedy In Michigan
Neutral: Ban Cars?
France, Europe, Britain, everyone’s trying to ban conventional cars within the next few decades. That make you nervous or hopeful for the future of driving?