In recent decades the urban planning profession has been strongly influenced by the movement to create safe, attractive, walkable districts, Cleveland says. Traffic engineering departments, on the other hand, tend to prioritize the swift and unimpeded movement of vehicles. Both groups are involved in suburban retrofits, and sometimes the result is a project that spends much public money to encourage walkability, and just as much or more money widening car lanes on more roadways, thereby discouraging walkability. A paradigm like car-dependency tends to be self-reinforcing. If nearly all the residents in a district travel by car, then shopping centers have their doors opening to large parking areas, instead of opening directly to a sidewalk where the rare pedestrian might pass by.
The United Auto Workers are entering their third week of the first-ever simultaneous strike against the three big automakers, and for the first time, a sitting US president, Joe Biden, joined them on the picket line. Executives at General Motors, Ford, and Stellantis are pushing back on worker demands by invoking the climate crisis. They say it is impossible to give workers what they want while also making a swift transition to manufacturing electric vehicles. On September 14, Ford’s CEO Jim Farley said that the union’s demands — higher wages, better hours, an end to tiered employment, and guaranteed job security in a green energy transition — could send the company into bankruptcy.
When you Google, “America’s love affair with…” the first word the algorithm fills in is “the automobile.” The third is “cars.” (The second is, surprise, surprise, guns.) In the U.S. — and increasingly in other parts of the world too — cars and driving have a significant impact on our daily lives. They determine the use of our streets, shape the design of our cities and suburbs, define coming of age for many young people, and affect the quality of the air we breathe. From anthropomorphized vehicles like Herbie: The Love Bug and the cars of Cars, to road trip epics like Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and Thelma & Louise to bangers like “Fast Car” and “Route 66,” automotive travel has had an outsized impact on our imaginations.
Do cities create greener lifestyles? Or do they just enable them? It’s very, very, very clear that people who live closer to other people drive less. But how much of this is due to the fact that people who were already predisposed to driving less—those of us who don’t particularly enjoy driving, for example—are deliberately living where parking is scarce and buses are frequent? A forthcoming academic paper finally begins to answer this crucial question. Its “breakthrough” conclusion: Bigger parking lots make us drive more. Even if we ignore the breathtaking economic costs of dedicating scarce urban space to car storage, mandatory parking isn’t an “all of the above” strategy that simply lets people choose their favorite mode of transportation.
Autoworkers at GM, Ford and Fiat Chrysler (FCA) are continuing to vote on strike authorization. Balloting will conclude Wednesday, and the official totals are expected the following day. The balloting is taking place under conditions in which the United Auto Workers union (UAW) has been widely discredited by its role in forcing through sellout contracts over the past thirty years and because of the expanding corruption scandal, which has revealed that top union executives at FCA and GM took millions of dollars in bribes and kickbacks in exchange for enforcing contracts favorable to the auto bosses.
Meet Noah. This lightweight plug-in electric city car scoots two people and their stuff around for up to 149 miles (240 km) on a single charge and can reach speeds of 68 miles per hour (110 km/hr). But that's mundane. What makes Noah special is the circle. The circle represents the complete closure of the materials life cycle: the only materials used in a product can be recycled, ideally back into the same product or a product of similar position in the value chain (as opposed to down-cycling in which materials are re-used in products of inferior quality or value). Noah's chassis was made without any traditional plastic and without metal. Instead, the engineers relied on sandwich panels of the natural fiber flax and a biopolymer made from sugar, Lumina PLA. The car was sponsored by the French petrochemical giant TOTAL, the supplier of Lumina PLA, and conceived by the ecomotive team at the Technical University of Eindhoven...
ELECTRIC VEHICLES ARE a fixture of many a transportation utopia, and for good reasons. In a world still reliant on private transportation, they promise everything from lower pollution to higher torque. However, at least one counterpoint mars the dream of exhaust-free street racing: Today’s grid would likely fail catastrophically if the entire US car fleet immediately made the switch to running on electricity. Let’s call this scenario of massive, simultaneous electric vehicle uptake the Pluggening. “If every customer starts buying electric vehicles, obviously that would cause a big impact on utilities,” says Mohammed Beshir, a professor of electrical engineering at USC’s Viterbi School of Engineering. Picture transformers spewing sparks like they were celebrating Chinese New Year. That scenario, though, is pure fantasy. Current EV trends show low to moderate uptake rates.
By Alex Davies for Wired - AFTER MORE THAN a century peddling vehicles that pollute the atmosphere, General Motors is ending its relationship with gasoline and diesel. This morning, the American automotive giant announced that it is working toward an all-electric, zero-emissions future. That starts with two new, fully electric models next year—then at least 18 more by 2023. That product onslaught puts the company at the forefront of an increasingly large crowd of automakers proclaiming the age of electricity and promising to move away from gasoline- and diesel-powered vehicles. In recent months, Volvo, Aston Martin, and Jaguar Land Rover have announced similar moves. GM’s declaration, though, is particularly noteworthy because it’s among the very largest automakers on the planet. It sold 10 million cars last year, ranging from pickups to SUVs to urban runabouts. “General Motors believes the future is all-electric,” says Mark Reuss, the company’s head of product. “We are far along in our plan to lead the way to that future world.” Reuss did not give a date for the death knell of the GM gas- or diesel-powered car, saying the transition will happen at different speeds in different markets and regions. The new all-electric models will be a mix of battery electric cars and fuel cell-powered vehicles. To be sure, GM’s sudden jolt of electricity is planned with its shareholders in mind. The Trump Administration may be moving to roll back fuel efficiency requirements in the US, but the rest of the world is insisting on an electric age.
By Ryan Beene and John Lippert for Bloomberg - The internal combustion engine’s days may be numbered in California, where officials are mulling whether a ban on sales of polluting autos is needed to achieve long-term targets for cleaner air. Governor 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. The earliest such a ban is at least a decade away, she said. 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.” Embracing such a policy would send shockwaves through the global car industry due to the heft of California’s auto market. More than 2 million new passenger vehicles were registered in the state last year, topping France, Italy or Spain. If a ban were implemented, automakers from General Motors Co. to Toyota Motor Corp. would be under new pressure to make electric vehicles the standard for personal transportation in the most populous U.S. state, casting fresh doubts on the future of gasoline- and diesel-powered autos elsewhere.
By Darrell Etherington for TechCrunch - China’s big electric vehicle push is about to get even bigger: The country is planning to end the sale of fossil fuel-powered vehicles entirely, with regulators working currently on a timetable of when the ban will ultimately take effect, according to Bloomberg. China is the world’s largest auto market, with 28.03 million vehicles sold last year, a boost in demand of 13.7 percent vs. 2015 sales numbers. The nation has already done a lot to incentivize manufacturers to develop and sell new EVs, including allowing foreign automakers to create a third joint venture with local automakers (a standard requirement for doing business in the country for auto OEMs) so long as it’s dedicated to the creation of EVs exclusively. The government has also created a number of incentive programs for OEMs, including subsidies. This will add to its positive efforts to drive more EV sales in China with the ultimate negative condition on the other side – at some point, automakers just won’t be able to do business at all in the country if they’re still selling a mix of fossil fuel and electrified vehicles. This isn’t the first time a governing body has said it would eventually phase out the sale of traditional fuel vehicles: France said it will stop selling fossil fuel cars by 2040 in July, and the UK has committed to the same timeline for sales of those vehicles.
By Chris Hedges for Truth Dig - In a special edition of "On Contact," Truthdig columnist Chris Hedges visits Anderson, Ind., formerly a center of car production. He witnesses the economic and psychological impact on workers caused by the flight of General Motors jobs overseas. The city has changed dramatically since the 1970s when, at the peak of American automobile manufacturing, a third of Anderson's 70,000 residents worked at General Motors. Over the past 30 years, Anderson's population has decreased as thousands upon thousands of well-paid union jobs have been lost. Watch the video above in which Hedges interviews people in what used to be "big car country" and documents what's become of Anderson now.
By Oscar Reyes for Other Words - While Europe races toward electric vehicles, U.S. automakers are actually trying to make cars less efficient. The French government recently announced a plan to ban sales of new gas-powered cars by 2040. Not to be outdone, the UK government is now rolling out a similar plan of its own. These plans sound shockingly radical, but in fact many analysts think those transitions will happen anyway. For instance, the Dutch bank ING recently predicted that all the cars sold in Europe will be electric by 2030. More conservative estimates put it at 2050. Either way, most experts now see this change on the horizon. Electric vehicles — or EVs — are already more efficient than their gas-powered counterparts, and could soon become cheaper too. High-end models already outperform conventional engines for speed and acceleration. Yet potential buyers will continue to be wary as long as the range of batteries remains small, and the network of charging points — think gas stations for electric cars — remains patchy. Rapidly developing technologies could help overcome this “range anxiety,” as the distance between charges could rise from around 100 miles to over 400 in the next decade.
By Michelle Chen for Dissent - The workers at the Nissan plant in Canton, Mississippi, had high hopes when the state-of-the-art factory complex moved in fourteen years ago to a small, majority black town where more than a quarter of residents live in poverty and decent jobs are scarce. As the manufacturing economy stagnated in the early 2000s, Nissan brought a streak of Clinton-era economic optimism into this struggling corner of the South. The global auto giant erected a multinational enterprise that is now the largest local employer, with more than 5,000 blue-collar jobs for an area with a workforce of fewer than 8,000. The factory’s launch was intended to make Canton a keystone of Mississippi’s “advanced manufacturing” growth agenda, promising decades of job development. But paint technician Morris Mock sees his hopes evaporate every day on the line. After fourteen years at the plant, he says, “People are hurting inside of my factory.” His fellow coworkers have been concerned by what they see as increasingly unstable working conditions and general deterioration in benefits and safety protections. A few years ago they campaigned to organize with the United Auto Workers (UAW). Since then, he says, the workers have faced growing hostility from management for seeking to unionize...
By Staff of Reuters - New York State's attorney general and 12 other top state law enforcement officials said on Friday they would mount a vigorous court challenge to any effort to roll back vehicle emission rules by the Trump administration. In March, President Donald Trump ordered a review of U.S. vehicle fuel-efficiency standards from 2022-2025 put in place by the Obama administration, saying they were too tough on the auto industry. The push to weaken the rules by the Trump administration comes as automakers are worried that consumers shift to larger vehicles and low gas prices will make it expensive or impossible to meet the regulations. They also fear a prolonged fight with states over the rules could make revising their product plans difficult. Democratic state officials have been increasingly aggressive in challenging Trump administration regulatory rollback efforts. "In light of the critical public health and environmental benefits the standards will deliver, if EPA acts to weaken or delay the current standards for model years 2022-25, like California, we intend to vigorously pursue appropriate legal remedies to block such action," the state attorneys wrote in a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency including Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Iowa, Washington State, Oregon and Rhode Island.
By Leanna Garfield for TSS - In late 2016, Madrid’s Mayor Manuela Carmena reiterated her plan to kick personal cars out of the city center. On Spanish radio network Cadena Ser, she confirmed that Madrid’s main avenue, the Gran Vía, will only allow access to bikes, buses, and taxis before she leaves office in May 2019. It’s part of a larger effort to ban all diesel cars in Madrid by 2025. But the Spanish city is not the only one getting ready to take the car-free plunge. Urban planners and policy makers around the world have started to brainstorm ways that cities can create more space for pedestrians and lower CO2 emissions from diesel. Here are 12 cities leading the car-free movement. Oslo will implement its car ban by 2019. Oslo plans to permanently ban all cars from its city center by 2019 — six years before Norway’s country-wide ban would go into effect. The Norwegian capital will invest heavily in public transportation and replace 35 miles of roads previously dominated by cars with bike lanes. “The fact that Oslo is moving forward so rapidly is encouraging, and I think it will be inspiring if they are successful,” says Paul Steely White...