Sensing trouble, automakers prepare to bargain with EPA, CARB on emissions

For most new-car buyers, haggling is a necessary evil. Now, car companies themselves are learning just how unpleasant haggling can be, as they try to find common ground with the Environmental Protection Agency and the California Air Resources Board on the subject of auto emissions.

A recap 

One month ago, Donald Trump went to Detroit, where he announced a review of the EPA’s decision to maintain the status quo on emissions regulations for cars from the 2022 to 2025 model years. 

However, the president didn’t suggest that he wanted the EPA to revoke the waiver that CARB received 2009, which allows CARB to set its own emissions standards. That could create a very complicated, confusing situation for automakers:

1. One set of emissions guidelines for California, the 13 states that follow CARB rules (Arizona, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington), and the District

... read more at: http://www.thecarconnection.com/news/1109879_sensing-trouble-automakers-prepare-to-bargain-with-epa-carb-on-emissions

California calls Trump’s EPA review a ‘cynical ploy’, vows to fight for its emissions rules

Yesterday, Donald Trump authorized the review of a controversial decision by the Environmental Protection Agency–a decision finalized during the last days of the Obama administration. Officials in California made it abundantly clear that they weren’t happy about the review, and they’ve vowed do whatever it takes to keep their state’s rules in place.

Following the announcement, the state issued a press release entitled “California Leaders Blast Cynical Ploy by Trump Administration, Automobile Manufacturers to Roll Back America’s Car Pollution Standards”. It coincided with the delivery of a letter from Governor Jerry Brown to newly appointed EPA chief, Scott Pruitt, which didn’t mince words. Here’s the opening paragraph:

“President Trump’s decision today to weaken emission standards in cars is an unconscionable gift to polluters. Once again, you’ve put the interests of big oil ahead of clean air and politics ahead of science”

But Brown Co. didn’t just want to sweet-talk

... read more at: http://www.thecarconnection.com/news/1109394_california-calls-trumps-epa-review-a-cynical-ploy-vows-to-fight-for-its-emissions-rules

GM issues Takata recall: Cadillac Escalade; Chevrolet Silverado, Tahoe, Suburban; GMC Sierra; more

Yesterday, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration posted recalls affecting nearly 1.5 million U.S. vehicles equipped with Takata’s fatally flawed airbags. Soon afterward, Ford added 1.9 million more vehicles to the recall roster.

Today, General Motors has issued its own preliminary Takata-related recall. It marks the first time that such a recall has affected the Cadillac lineup.

As with all of yesterday’s recalls, GM’s involve Takata’s passenger-side airbags, which use ammonium nitrate to inflate the devices during collisions. Exposure to heat and moisture can cause that compound to become destabilized, resulting in an explosion when the airbags deploy. Such incidents have pelted vehicle occupants with shrapnel, causing at least 11 deaths and hundreds of injuries around the world.

GM pickups and SUVs affected by today’s recall include:

Cadillac launches BOOK, a $1500-per-month car-sharing service

Within three months of taking the corner office at Cadillac, Johann de Nysschen announced plans to move the brand’s longtime headquarters from Detroit to New York.

Why did he do it? De Nysschen had been hired to reinvent General Motors’ struggling luxury brand, and to achieve that goal, he wanted to put Cadillac smack in the middle of the city that he called “the epicenter of sophisticated living”.

Put another way, de Nysschen wanted to make Cadillac elite, so he took it to where the elites live.

Yesterday, de Nysschen announced a new program that could boost Cadillac’s profile even further. It’s called BOOK. (It’s so upscale, it’s all uppercase.)

Changing needs

These are exciting times in the auto industry. Car companies around the globe are working night and day to replace gasoline engines with battery packs and to develop software that can handle driving duties.

But many in the field are predicting a bigger shift–one

... read more at: http://www.thecarconnection.com/news/1108191_cadillac-launches-book-a-1500-per-month-car-sharing-service

GM’s Maven follows Cadillac’s lead and offers monthly rentals

Back in January, General Motors and Cadillac launched a monthly car-sharing service called BOOK. Users pay $1,500 per month, and in exchange they receive access to an array of Cadillac vehicles, including the XT5, CT6, Escalade, and V Series.

Now, GM has launched a similar program called Maven Reserve. An extension of Maven, which launched in early 2016, Maven Reserve relies on a fleet of Chevrolet vehicles (at least for now).

Similar, but different

Like BOOK, Maven Reserve gives folks access to vehicles for long-term usage. Also, each car in the Maven Reserve fleet comes equipped with a number of GM perks, like OnStar, 4G LTE Wi-Fi, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and SiriusXM radio. And rentals of vehicles include insurance.

There are, however, a couple of key differences between Maven Reserve and BOOK. Perhaps most importantly, BOOK is a subscription service with an ongoing fee. Users pay that fee whether they’re using a car or

... read more at: http://www.thecarconnection.com/news/1109257_gms-maven-follows-cadillacs-lead-and-offers-monthly-rentals

Now’s the time to buy winter tires

Check that date. Yes, it’s the beginning of February and we’re telling you that you should buy winter tires now, even though we’re already halfway through the snowy season. 

If you’ve been contemplating winter tires for your car, this may very well be the best time to take advantage of clearance sales as tire retailers like Tire Rack are looking to clear out inventory. 

Tires take up a lot of space for retailers, Tire Rack Vice President Matt Edmonds told The Car Connection

ALSO SEE: Winter tires beat all-seasons in cold weather

“We have several warehouses across the country,” Edmonds said. “But they fill up fast and we need to have room for seasonal products.”

Retailers aren’t just interested in clearing out space. Tire manufacturers redesign their winter tires about every four to five years on average, meaning that last year’s design may go on sale in January and February in anticipation of a

... read more at: http://www.thecarconnection.com/news/1108695_nows-the-time-to-buy-winter-tires

2017 Cadillac Escalade Review

The Cadillac Escalade is the big hoss of GM’s luxury lineup. It’s more than just the high-falutin’ version of the Suburbans, Tahoes, and Yukons that almost rival it for luxury fittings; it’s probably the most recognizable Cadillac on the road today, thanks as much to its beveled edges to its imposing stance.

Available in base, Luxury, Premium Luxury, and Platinum configurations, the Escalade goes from well to lavishly-equipped with the tick of a few option boxes. 

The Escalade earns an impressive 7.7 on our overall scale thanks to its comfort and surprising performance. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

There’s no question that the Escalade boasts more bravado than just about anything else to ever hit the road, but this latest SUV is far more luxurious, refined, and capable than ever before. Straddling the line between tasteful and excessive, the Escalade’s unmistakable style is evident from every angle. At its core,

... read more at: http://www.thecarconnection.com/overview/cadillac_escalade_2017

The bill for Volkswagen’s Dieselgate crisis grew by $157 million (running total: $22.3 billion)

Back in the early days of the Volkswagen Dieselgate fiasco, we estimated that the crisis would cost Europe’s largest automaker at least $25 billion

As it turns out, that estimate may have been too conservative. The company’s bill in America alone has topped $22 billion, and thanks to a settlement with ten states that had sued the automaker for environmental damages, the sum has now crept up by another $157.45 million

The states in question are Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington. Not coincidentally, all ten follow stringent emissions policies set by the California Air Resources Board–policies that have so far largely dovetailed with those of the Environmental Protection Agency but which may diverge very, very soon

(Some of those states were also included in a roughly $600 million settlement last June over illegally rigged 2.0-liter diesels from Audi and

... read more at: http://www.thecarconnection.com/news/1109690_the-bill-for-volkswagens-dieselgate-crisis-grew-by-157-million-running-total-22-3-billion

2017 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack first drive: Playing catch-up

Deeply embroiled in one of the most complex corporate scandals ever, Volkswagen is at a crossroads—especially in the United States. The brand’s new Golf Alltrack represents a potential way out, at least if history is on VW’s side. 

Flash back to the mid-1990s, and had you been asked to wager on VW versus Subaru, picking the latter was inadvisable. But Subaru bet and won big with its Outback, a Legacy wagon with a lift kit and some rugged styling features. Today, the Outback is an icon—especially in the Northwestern United States, where VW gathered automotive media to launch a car that owes its existence to Subaru.

Follow the leader

The recipe is identical: The Golf Alltrack is a Golf SportWagen with taller springs and some styling add-ons to fit in at the REI parking lot. It’s easy to picture a green Old Town canoe or a pair of Specialized Stumpjumpers strapped to

... read more at: http://www.thecarconnection.com/news/1106142_2017-volkswagen-golf-alltrack-first-drive-playing-catch-up

2017 Kia Soul EV Review

The 2017 Kia Soul EV is a low-volume electric car adapted from the very popular Soul compact tall wagon. The current Soul was redesigned for 2014, and the electric version, now in its third year, followed for 2015. The electric Kia’s three trim levels are the base Soul EV-e, the mid-range Soul EV, and the top-of-the-line Soul EV+ (plus).

The Soul may be technically a five-door hatchback, but the latest design is more comfortable, with a better ride and improved handling than its predecessor. Its space-efficient design is hard to beat for maximizing interior room to hold people and their goods in a small footprint. It’s a similar formula to the one adopted by the new Chevrolet Bolt EV, also a tall hatchback.

While the Soul EV no longer has a slight range advantage over competing small electric cars, it’s still the best of the 70- to 100-mile group in some ways.

... read more at: http://www.thecarconnection.com/overview/kia_soul-ev_2017