Automotive

There Is A New Diesel Emissions Cheating Scandal


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Photo: Hino

Toyota’s truck unit says it cheated, Tesla is talking about video games again, and GM. All that and more in The Morning Shift for March 8, 2022.

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1st Gear: Hino

I was busy walking a picket line last week, so I was not aware that we have another diesel emissions cheating scandal afoot, this time involving Hino, a subsidiary of Toyota, which said on Friday that it cheated and whose stock subsequently fell off a cliff.

From the Financial Times:

Shares of Toyota’s truck-making subsidiary Hino suffered their biggest one-day fall in more than two decades on Monday, plunging 16.8 per cent in the first trading session since the company admitted it had falsified emissions data.

Hino said on Friday that it had falsified diesel engine performance and fuel economy data for some of its vehicles manufactured in Japan. The transport ministry on Monday inspected the company’s headquarters in Tokyo and said it planned to open an investigation.

The company, which has sold more than 115,000 trucks and buses with falsified data as of February, said it had suspended new sales of the engines and vehicles carrying them in Japan.

[…]

Hino had cheated on the tests because there was “pressure of meeting numerical targets and adhering to schedules”, according to company president Satoshi Ogiso at a press conference on Friday. One of the ways Hino had cheated was by replacing the purification equipment during the emissions evaluation test.

The manipulation of data was discovered during a company investigation into pre-shipment inspections for cars sold in Japan, after it had failed to comply with US regulations for its vehicles sold in North America.

Volkswagen never really recovered from its diesel emissions cheating scandal, which was once the biggest story in the automotive world and which is partly why VW is going so hard right now on electric. This seems like it will be less of a thing, if only because diesel engines aren’t as pervasive as they used to be, and who really cares about Hino trucks. Anyway, cheating is bad.

2nd Gear: GM Will Have Some Kind Of New Premium Brand In China

China is the biggest car market in the world, and thus a hot ticket for any automaker worth their salt. According to Reuters, GM wants to make a new premium brand, possibly even a luxury one, in addition to Buick and Cadillac, which both do big business in China already.

General Motors plans to create a new premium brand in China to market what the automaker’s China chief Julian Blissett recently described as “halo cars” brought in from the United States.

GM plans to build this new “premium import business” from the ground up and operate it with “a high level of autonomy,” GM said in a statement on Tuesday.

“We are inviting talent from across the industry to join us and jointly create our brand-new business in China,” it said.

The U.S. automaker issued the statement after multiple Chinese media outlets reported this week about the new wholly owned brand.

According to a Shanghai-based GM spokesperson, Blissett told Chinese media outlets on Friday the new premium brand will specialize in selling upscale GM vehicles currently unavailable in China through its existing brands. Those brands include Wuling, Baojun, Chevrolet, Buick and Cadillac, all owned and operated with Chinese joint-venture partners.

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3rd Gear: GM Also Has Some New Partnership With Pacific Gas And Electric Company

It is a test of how GM’s EVs can power houses in California, because I guess that is the future.

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From the Detroit Free Press:

The pilot program starts this summer. In it, the companies will test bidirectional charging technology to see if it can safely power the essential needs of a properly equipped home.

Bidirectional charging allows EVs to both receive power from the grid to charge the vehicle and send power from the vehicle to power a home, business, another vehicle or even back into the grid, said Phil Lienert, GM spokesman.

“Imagine a future where everyone is driving an electric vehicle — and where that EV serves as a backup power option at home and more broadly as a resource for the grid,” PG&E CEO Patti Poppe said in a statement. “Not only is this a huge advancement for electric reliability and climate resiliency, it’s yet another advantage of clean-powered EVs.”

In an interview on CNBC on Tuesday morning, Poppe said she and Barra worked together for 15 years at GM and that “Mary was a very important mentor to me. I called Mary and told her we have a safety issue in California with wild fires in place. Mary answered my call.”

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It is cool and definitely practical that EVs will be able to power other things, something ICE cars probably should’ve been doing for years beyond charging your phone.

4th Gear: Tesla Responds To That Video Game Nonsense

Remember that whole kerfuffle over Tesla letting drivers play video games while the car is in motion? Well, procedurally at least, it is still an issue with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and Automotive News says that Tesla has now submitted a partial response to NHTSA.

Tesla Inc. has submitted a partial response to NHTSA’s information request in an investigation of the electric vehicle maker’s decision to allow video games to be played on the infotainment systems while its vehicles are in motion.

NHTSA said Tesla’s response “has been received and is being reviewed,” according to aMarch 7 memo posted Tuesday to the agency’s website.

Tesla has requested “confidential business information treatment for the entirety of the information request submission,” the memo states.

[…]

In January, NHTSA sent a letter to Tesla seeking more information to aid its investigation, including any consumer complaints; reports involving a crash, injury or fatality; and lawsuits that might relate to the feature.

The agency also asked Tesla to furnish a chronology of events and studies supporting its decision to deploy and then revoke the in-vehicle gaming capability.

Tesla needed to respond by March 4, or it could’ve faced civil penalties up to nearly $115 million.

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Tesla’s tussles with NHTSA have been sort of fascinating through different presidential administrations, if also somewhat predictable. Under Trump, NHTSA really couldn’t be bothered, but under Biden NHTSA has seemingly woken up.

5th Gear: Tesla Sold A Lot Of China-Made Cars Last Month

Tesla’s China operation is still humming along quite well. It’s no surprise why it is Elon’s favorite of Tesla’s factories. Its rivals are also far behind there.

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From Reuters:

U.S. electric vehicle maker Tesla Inc (TSLA.O) sold 56,515 China-made vehicles in February, including 33,315 for export, the China Passenger Car Association (CPCA) said on Tuesday.

Tesla, which has made Model 3 sedans and Model Y sport-utility vehicles in Shanghai since 2019, sold 59,845 China-made vehicles in January.

Chinese NEV maker Nio Inc delivered 6,131 cars in February, up 9.9% year on year. Li Auto delivered 8,414 and Xpeng Inc (9868.HK) delivered 6,225 vehicles, rising year on year by 265.8% and 180% respectively.

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Reverse: Type 2

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