California Is Considering A Ban On Combustion-Engine Cars Now Too

Photo: AP
Photo: AP
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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: California Car Ban 

Basically all of Europe is looking to ban the sale of gasoline and diesel engine cars within the coming decades, a move that would leave the U.S. in the dust—if the nation decides not to ever follow suit. But California, known to set the bar high for vehicle environmental standards, is apparently considering a ban of its own, according to Bloomberg.


Gov. Jerry Brown has expressed an interest in barring the sale of vehicles powered by internal-combustion engines, Mary Nichols, chairman of the California Air Resources Board, said in an interview Friday at Bloomberg headquarters in New York. Brown, one of the most outspoken elected official in the U.S. about the need for policies to combat climate change, would be replicating similar moves by China, France and the U.K.

“I’ve gotten messages from the governor asking, ‘Why haven’t we done something already?’” Nichols said, referring to China’s planned phase-out of fossil-fuel vehicle sales. “The governor has certainly indicated an interest in why China can do this and not California.”

I’m of the thought that a significant mandate’s going to be necessary if electric vehicles ever catch on in the U.S., and California’s the logical—and obvious—place where this might begin. I’m just not sure our current administration would be too fond of it, and car enthusiasts may find it incredibly hard to fathom too.

2nd Gear: Chinese Drop Investment In Self-Driving Map Company

HERE is an interesting startup because it has significant financial backing from German automakers, and it’s trying to tackle a big issue for autonomous cars: the development of high-resolution maps. But a Chinese-led group of investors is backing out of a planned 10 percent stake of the company, saying it received too much pushback from a U.S. agency. Via Reuters:

Chinese mapping company Navinfo said on Tuesday that the company and partners Chinese internet giant Tencent (0700.HK) and Singapore sovereign wealth fund GIC [GIC.UL] had dropped plans to take 10 percent of HERE, which is developing high-resolution maps to enable autonomous driving and a range of other internet services.

Navinfo said in a statement that it spent months after the deal was announced in January seeking approval from the U.S. Committee on Foreign Investment (CFIUS). But after meeting CFIUS resistance, the group had decided to pull its investment offer. It did not give details of why CFIUS opposed the investment.


This comes at a notable moment. Chinese automakers have sought to buy Fiat-Chrysler, but there’s concern about the Committee on Foreign Investment getting in the way. Now, we have a documented instance where resistance from the CFIUS held up a deal. Maybe Sergio Marchionne will never be able to sell FCA.

3rd Gear: Fear Of Losing Driving Jobs To Robots Grows

The general school of thought is that, once autonomous vehicles catch on, jobs belonging to drivers will start to vanish. Many in the industry think it’ll happen first with truckers, and then perhaps taxis. Whatever the case, concern’s mounting from those who rely on driving to earn a paycheck.


The Detroit News explains:

Auto manufacturers and tech companies have promised that self-driving cars will revolutionize mobility and boost safety on U.S. roads. And trucking companies have hailed the potential for increased cargo shipping efficiency.

What’s overlooked in those visions is the potential for the technology to eliminate well-paying jobs in both the commercial driving industry and drivers for ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft.

A May report from Goldman Sachs forecasts that the professional driving sector stands to lose 6.2 million jobs globally by 2030 due to the advent of fully autonomous vehicles.


The News thoroughly dissects the problem at hand, and it cuts at one of the biggest conundrums of automated driving that, really, we should probably start planning for now: what are all these workers going to do in a hypothetical world of fully-autonomous cars?

4th Gear: EV Revolution Could Spark Copper Shortgage

Practically every automaker is dumping billions into electric vehicle development right now, hoping to spark a revolution that has struggled to take off. But that gargantuan effort to grow the currently-minuscule EV market could lead to a huge shortage in a necessary mineral for the cars, according to Reuters:

The EV boom would be felt — for producers — first in copper, where supply will struggle to match increased demand, said Arnoud Balhuizen, BHP’s chief commercial officer.

The world’s top mines are aging and there have been no major discoveries in two decades. The market, he said, may have underestimated the impact on the red metal: fully electric vehicles require four times as much copper as cars that run on combustion engines.


A lot of this is contingent on EVs actually taking off, but it raises a significant point: how are we going to build efficient EVs if the material isn’t there to make it work?

5th Gear: Self-Driving Car Ad Campaigns Begin

Political season means political ads, and self-driving car advocates are rolling out a huge campaign to support their initiatives on social media and in newspapers, according to Reuters:

The ads are being placed by the Coalition for Future Mobility, which was formed in July by trade groups representing major automakers, along with other advocates for self-driving cars, as Congress began serious consideration of bills relating to autonomous vehicles.

They want the Senate to pass a bill that would speed up the use of self-driving cars by easing safety regulations, and bar states from blocking such vehicles. The House of Representatives has already unanimously approved a bill.

The Senate is considering a similar draft measure, but is divided over whether to include large commercial trucks, a dispute that could prevent the bill from winning approval this year.


We’ve covered the extent of the self-driving car legislation passed by the U.S. House, but the Senate’s competing bills could stymie the effort to get some sort of regulatory framework in place. With Congress focused on, uh, many things right now, I’m honestly not convinced they’ll get it done this year.

Reverse: Welcome To Your New Job


Neutral: Ban Cars?

Countries around the world are doing it. What do you think about California eventually banning internal combustion cars? Necessary move for the environment, or a nightmare waiting to happen?

Senior Reporter, Jalopnik/Special Projects Desk

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So what’s California’s solution to the power grid? I’m not against the idea, but there are a lot questions to answer and problems to solve before it’s a realistic proposal that doesn’t involve energy rationing.