California's Emissions Rules Are Probably Going Nationwide

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California’s emissions rules could be a “template” for America’s, Nissan is suing Carlos Ghosn and Elon Musk might have the coronavirus. All that and more in The Morning Shift for November 13, 2020.


1st Gear: Finally Some Sense

The Trump administration has been trying to roll back Obama-era fuel efficiency standards for years now, with little success, an effort that is now tied up in a court battle. Under President-elect Joe Biden, I’m guessing that this whole issue will mostly go away; Biden, of course, was Obama’s vice president when the Obama administration adopted tougher emissions standards.

If anything, we might see a Biden administration going even stricter, in an effort to, you know, save the world. Who might lead that charge? Mary Nichols, currently the chairwoman of the California Air Resources Board, which has made its own deal over emissions standards with some automakers, seems like a leading candidate.

From Reuters:

California Air Resources Board Chair Mary Nichols, who sources say could be the next federal environment chief, said on Thursday her state’s agreement with major automakers for fuel efficiency requirements could serve as a “good template” for federal standards through 2025.


President-elect Joe Biden has vowed to negotiate “ambitious fuel economy standards” with industry, unions and environmental groups.

Nichols said California’s framework deal with automakers on emissions, announced in July 2019 and finalized in August 2020, “is a good template and then we should be moving on to the next generation of regulation.”


Nichols said fuel efficiency requirements should be increased but added: “I don’t think honestly the future of CAFE is the relevant question ... This is not where the action is.”

She told Reuters CAFE standards, first adopted as part of a 1975 law, are “not the most relevant tool for dealing with the future of transportation in this country or globally” as the industry shifts away from internal combustion vehicles toward electric and other zero-emissions models. “Our future is not with the internal combustion engine.”

If you’re keeping score at home, Ford, Honda, Volkswagen and BMW sided with California over emissions, while GM, Toyota, Fiat Chrysler, Mazda, Subaru, Nissan and Kia sided with the Trump administration. Well done, everyone in that latter group.

2nd Gear: Elon Musk

Elon may or may not have the coronavirus, the disease he said was going to be gone by April, according to his Twitter account.


We’ll ignore, for a second, how deeply irresponsible this tweet is and instead look at a different and completely true tweet from friend of Jalopnik Bob Sorokanich:


3rd Gear: The Carlos Ghosn Saga Will Never End

There hasn’t been another story in recent memory that began so excitingly before instantly becoming an extremely boring story about legal maneuvering. Anyway, Nissan is suing its former chairman for $95 million, according to Reuters.

Ousted Nissan Motor Chairman Carlos Ghosn’s legal woes deepened on Friday with the start of a civil trial in Yokohama, Japan, where his former employer is seeking $95 million in damages.

“The legal actions initiated today form part of Nissan’s policy of holding Ghosn accountable for the harm and financial losses incurred by the company due to (his) misconduct,” Nissan said in a statement.

Ghosn, who also ran French carmaker Renault, has been in Lebanon since January after fleeing Japan before he was due to stand trial. He denies any wrongdoing.

Prosecutors, who arrested Ghosn two years ago, have charged him with hiding 9.3 billion yen ($88.5 million) in compensation, enriching himself at Nissan’s expense through $5 million payments to a Middle East car dealership and temporarily transferring personal financial losses to the automaker’s books.

The “Nissan civil lawsuit is an extension to the extremely unreasonable internal investigation with sinister intent by a portion of Nissan’s senior management and the unreasonable arrests and indictments by the public prosecutors,” Ghosn said in an emailed statement.


4th Gear: An 18th Death Is Linked To Takata Airbags

This is the first in a BMW, according to Reuters. The airbags have been subject to recall after recall after recall. Details are a little scarce but:

A U.S. auto safety regulator said on Thursday it identified the 18th U.S. death tied to a Takata air bag inflator rupture after the review of a recent BMW crash.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said it had concluded a Takata air bag inflator rupture during a September crash in Arizona had led to fatal injuries of the driver.

This was the first reported Takata death in a BMW vehicle after 15 U.S. deaths in those of Honda Motor Co and two in Ford Motor Co vehicles since 2009.

BMW said its “engineers will work closely with federal investigators to inspect the vehicle and to understand the details of the incident.”

The German automaker added it had “been working diligently to identify and contact owners of these older vehicles equipped with recalled Takata airbags.”


5th Gear: The UAW Has A Labor Secretary In Mind

That would be Michigan House Rep. Andy Levin, a Democrat. Andy Levin is the son of former Rep. Sandy Levin and the nephew of former Sen. Carl Levin, both of Michigan. As far as scions of prominent families that lead the Department of Labor go, he would be miles better than the current Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia, who is the son of the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.


From the Detroit Free Press:

The union’s spokesman, Brian Rothenberg, said in an email Thursday night that the UAW International’s board had met and sent a letter to President-elect Joe Biden’s transition team recommending Levin.

The letter wasn’t immediately made available, but the additional support for Levin, a former organizer who did work for the Service Employees International Union and the AFL-CIO, comes as other labor leaders have supported him as well, including Chris Shelton, president of the Communications Workers of America.

He is one of several candidates being considered for the position, which oversees a department tasked with handling unemployment benefits, wage and hour standards and other management and worker issues. Others being discussed are Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont.


Reverse: Silkwood

I’ve never seen the movie, though it’s always been on my list.


Neutral: How Are You?

It’s Friday! Thank Christ. I will be taking a long drive this weekend somewhere, just because. I’m thinking the beach.

News Editor at Jalopnik. 2008 Honda Fit Sport.


Porschebago Redux, formerly Mini Mid-life Crisis

Synchronizing the Federal emissions standards with the CARB benchmark makes perfect sense. The California program has been wildly successful, and has driven the development and adoption of clean emissions technologies worldwide. IIRC, something like ten states have already mandated that their standards match the California benchmark. Most shrewd manufacturers simply build all US-spec cars to the CARB spec to simplify production.

If anyone doubts that the CARB program has been successful, talk to anyone who visited southern California in the ‘70s or ‘80s and ask them if the sky has cleared since that time.