Trump administration vs. California: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt gave a strong indication the federal government is going to soften up on fuel economy and emissions standards, and may be in conflict with what the state of California is planning to do. During an interview with Bloomberg News on Tuesday, Pruitt said that California won’t be able to “dictate to the rest of the country what these levels are going to be.” The EPA is facing an April 1 deadline to decide on whether the Obama administration’s late ruling on 2022 to 2025 fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions will be kept in place. Pruitt also dismissed an offer by California to consider easing its current standards in exchange for extending them beyond 2025. The state is working on its own standards through 2030. “Being predictive about what’s going to be taking place out in 2030 is really hard,” Pruitt said. “I think it creates problems when you do that too aggressively. That’s not something we’re terribly focused on right now.”
Tesla still in talks with Shanghai: China’s Shanghai province is having talks with Tesla Inc. over building a Tesla manufacturing plant locally. While Tesla CEO Elon Musk last week called that future relationship into question, the Shanghai government said in a press statement that communication between the two sides has always been positive with the shared goal of growing China’s new energy vehicle market. Musk’s tweets last week had been directed at President Donald Trump to help get a “fair outcome” in trade agreements with China. He’s like to see China open up its market and not demand the usual 50-50 joint venture companies with Chinese automakers. Tesla may be allowed to own its factory under a separate rule allowing provinces to establish “free trade zones.” The pressure is on Tesla to increase its presence in China and other markets to sell the Model 3 as the production rate speeds up. News came out this week that the company stopped production in Fremont, Calif., to adjust equipment that can increase the production rate. Production was reportedly suspended from February 20 to February 24 to make these changes.
Diesel winning over clean fuels in trucking: Kary Schaefer, general manager of marketing and strategy for Daimler Trucks North America, during a keynote speech last week at the Work Truck Show’s Green Truck Summit in Indianapolis, said that diesel is winning for now over alternative fuels. Daimler Trucks is taking natural gas and electricity seriously as alternative fuels, but neither will be taking the lead away from diesel anytime soon. Daimler’s Freightliner Trucks subsidiary showed off several natural gas-powered trucks in the exhibit hall. The truck maker’s Fuso division is rolling out the eCanter electric medium-duty truck and the E-Fuso Class 8 electric truck. But for now, diesel is still the most efficient and cost-effective fuel, the Daimler executive said. While natural gas and battery-powered have become the most talked-about alternatives to diesel, their limitations are causing fleets to look more carefully at their options, she said. Charging and alternative fueling stations are very limited in comparison to ample diesel stations across the country. There’s also the question of realistic range for the vehicle. Electric trucks are particularly vulnerable to temperature, cargo loads, and speed traveled on highways in having enough range to carry out the freight hauling goals of fleet operators. Schaefer does see gains being made in new connected vehicle technologies, including active safety systems. She also supports the idea that green goes beyond tailpipe emissions; managers are encouraged to bring sustainability practices into their strategic planning while reducing cost and waste. Other highlights at the Green Truck Summit included XL Hybrids introducing the Ford F-150 XLP plug-in hybrid pickup, which can improve fuel economy by up to 50%. Lightning Systems showed off an electric Fort Transit cargo van that’s adding a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle that can extend range by 200 miles.