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.
1st Gear: Clean Cars 2040 Bill Could Ban Fossil Fuel Car Sales In California
A new bill introduced in the California Assembly wants to set a date for the transition to an all-electric future. Assembly member Phil Ting announced the introduction of the Clean Cars 2040 bill that would ban the sales of all new gas and diesel powered vehicles in California by 2040. Per the announcement:
As introduced, AB 1745 requires all new passenger vehicles to be zero emissions vehicles after January 1, 2040. For the purposes of the bill, zero emissions vehicles cannot produce exhaust emissions of any criteria pollutant or greenhouse gas under any operational mode or condition. The bill does not apply to large commercial vehicles (larger than 10,000 pounds) and does not apply to vehicles owned by people moving into California from other states.
Ting’s announcement puts a lot of faith in automakers to deliver new electric vehicles to take the gas powered ones’ place, stressing the number of options already available long before the proposed 2040 deadline:
California has set ambitious goals to reduce GHG emissions by 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030. There are nearly 300,000 EVs on California roads today. In 2016, approximately 2.09 million new cars were sold in California, and 1.9 percent were EVs. Over 20 EVs are now on the market in subcompact, hatchback, sedan, luxury, and SUV/minivan models.
We saw this coming. Ting himself said in December that it’s time to set a deadline for the electric vehicle switch-over because he believed that nothing would happen without one. California Governor Jerry Brown also expressed interest in such a measure back in September, arguing that if other countries could do it, why not California? So far, China, France, Norway and the United Kingdom are among those who have considered or passed similar measures to ban gas and diesel vehicles.
2nd Gear: Hyundai Wants A Self-Driving Car By 2021
Hyundai announced today that they are partnering with autonomous technology company Aurora with the intent of developing a Level 4 autonomous vehicle by 2021. Per the announcement:
This partnership will incorporate Aurora’s self-driving technology into Hyundai vehicles starting with models custom-developed and launched in test programs and pilot cities. Over the longer term, Hyundai and Aurora will work to commercialize self-driving vehicles worldwide.
To start, the partnership will focus on the ongoing development of hardware and software for automated and autonomous driving and the back-end data services required for Level 4 automation. Level 4 autonomous vehicles defined by SAE can operate without human input or oversight under select conditions. The goal of the partnership is to deploy autonomous driving quickly, broadly and safely.
“Level 4" refers to the ability for a car to drive itself without human input or even oversight under certain conditions. It’s a big leap above the commercially available systems we have now that require a human babysitter to occasionally nudge the wheel so the car stays in line, and 2021 is a fast-approaching deadline. Hyundai first started testing autonomous vehicles on Nevada public roads in 2015. So, we’ll see!
3rd Gear: Creditors Clear To Vote On Takata’s Bankruptcy Plan
A judge gave creditors of embattled auto supplier Takata and its U.S entity TK Holdings Inc. the go-ahead to vote on the company’s Chapter 11 plan, reports Reuters. Takata and TK Holdings Inc. filed for bankruptcy in June.
Takata, of course, was the maker of the faulty airbags that could send potentially deadly shrapnel into a car’s cabin. Over 100 million of those airbags have been recalled so far. The bags have been linked to 180 injuries and 18 deaths so far.
Critics have noted that Takata’s bankruptcy plan could limit the legal rights of those injured by the airbags, Reuters notes:
The trust would pay compensation based on the injury, ranging from $10,000 for bruising to $5 million for death or loss of eyesight, according to court documents.
Car owners would be barred from suing Honda and other car makers could opt to join the trust arrangement.
Sander Esserman, a lawyer representing car owners seeking to recover costs related to the recall, criticized the trust proposal because it limited the rights of consumers by barring punitive damages and paying compensation in installments.
However, a later hearing on Feb. 13 will ultimately determine if Takata’s bankruptcy plan is fair and meets all the necessary requirements.
4th Gear: Maserati Inferno!
New year, same song. Can you believe that an Italian automaker is having to fix some of its vehicles for a fire risk?! Well, believe it, because it’s Maserati’s turn. Per Automotive News:
Maserati North America Inc. is recalling more than 1,000 of its newest luxury cars to fix leaky fuel pipes that increase the potential for an engine fire.
The 2018 Ghibli and Quattroporte sedans — with prices starting at $73,050 and $105,600, respectively — have a faulty fuel delivery pipe in the engine compartment that may leak gasoline, the company said. The cars haven’t yet been delivered to customers, and they’ll be fixed before individuals are able to drive off with them, according to Matteo Sardi, a spokesman for the carmaker.
A fuel leak may appear at a set of quick connectors used in the car. Maserati plans to replace the plastic fuel line at the root of the issue in 1,406 vehicles manufactured between July 24 and Dec. 14.
5th Gear: Bosch And Continental Want In On Navigation Tech
Automotive suppliers Bosch and Continental are the latest companies hedging their bets against a potentially electric autonomous future, reports Automotive News. Bosch and Continental purchased a 5 percent stake each in Here Technologies, a navigation technology company that’s jointly controlled by Audi, BMW and Daimler.
After all, all these self-driving cars on the horizon need to be able to know where to go. The trio of German automakers bought Here from Nokia in 2015 for $3.8 billion so as not to be dependent on an outside company like Google in the race to build autonomous cars.
Reverse: General Motors’ EV1 Is Here! (For A While, Until They Kill It.)
Neutral: Too Soon, Junior?
What are your thoughts on California’s ambitious bill to ban sales of conventional fossil fuel-powered cars by 2040? Is it too soon, or not soon enough?