America’s Dumbest Cars Act Goes Away Adaptive Headlights

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It’s far from the biggest problem facing American drivers, but we’re going to scrap one of our most unnecessary laws that sends a blinding light into the eyes of oncoming drivers. We are going to drop our ban on adaptive headlights. All this and more in morning shift for February 16, 2022.

1st Gear: nine years ago

Automotive safety standards are somewhat rigid, and the 21st century innovation of adaptive headlights, those that can dip the high beams to only one side of the car but not the other, ran counter to some decades old edict on minimum regulated headlight height, or another even more obscure standard on minimum constant strength, or something else I remember researching in 2013 when this became a regulatory issue and which I have since forgotten.

It took a long time to pay attention to this minor issue, but finally we get somewhere with the National Highway Safety Administrationlike Automotive News reports:

NHTSA said Tuesday it had finalized a rule allowing automakers to install adaptive high beams on new vehicles in response to a 2013 petition from Toyota Motor North America.

Rule — signed on 1 February by the deputy administrator Steven Cliff — meets a requirement of the bipartisan Infrastructure Act passed by Congress last year.

The law directs the agency to issue a final rule within two years amending Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 108, which regulates automotive lighting, signs and reflective devices, by including performance-based standards for vehicle headlight systems and allowing adaptive high beams.

Say what you will about admin Biden in general, at least NHTSA seems to be getting its mojo back.

2nd Gear: Cutting the Gas Tax: Should We Save the Environment or…

Switching to electric vehicles to save the environment prepares you for all sorts of tricky moral questions. There’s the whole issue of lithium mining, but there’s also a general issue of – if electric vehicles are what we need to save the world, how can we continue in good conscience any promotion of gasoline vehicles? It’s kind of a vague question when it comes to private car companies that have to make cars to make money, but it’s a bit more pointed when it comes to public initiatives and governmental.

It is in this spirit that I enjoyed this Financial Times article, captioned “White House weighs voter anger over rising costs over commitment to lead clean energy transition.” From the FT:

On Tuesday, the White House said it could scrap federal gasoline taxes in a bid to provide immediate relief to drivers. The average price of a gallon of gasoline in the United States is now $3.50, an increase of almost 50% since Biden entered the Oval Office.

The tax break would effectively subsidize fuel consumption, analysts say — a surprising step for an administration that has been talking about ending tax breaks in the oil industry and weaning Americans off the combustion engine in favor of electric alternatives.

“The fact that we’re even talking about this shows there’s weak political support for decarbonization policies,” said Bob McNally, president of Rapidan Energy. “If you’re willing to kill 18.4 cents a gallon [tax] with minimal real impact on consumption. . . how on earth are you going to be willing to force consumers to adopt electric vehicles or more fuel-efficient cars? “Inasmuch as

This is the kind of email problem that should explain to me why I don’t want to get into politics.

3rd Gear: Big public Tesla shareholder puts pressure on after racism case

Speaking of electric vehicles, Tesla has been struggling lately, with a recent court case evoking startling racism in action at its Fremont factory. Now the company is under pressure from the New York State Pension Fund because Bloomberg reports:

The New York State Common Retirement Fund, one of the nation’s largest public pension plans, has filed its shareholder proposal last week following a high-profile racial discrimination case that resulted in a $137 million jury award and days before California made the extraordinary decision to prosecute Tesla. The resolution asks the automaker to publish the effectiveness of its measures to end misconduct in the workplace.

“Recent developments further underscore the need for Tesla to determine how the company prevents harassment and discrimination against employees,” New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said in a statement sent Monday. by e-mail. “This kind of alleged behavior should never be tolerated.”

California’s civil rights regulator sued Tesla last week for racial discrimination and harassment after uncovering widespread mistreatment of black workers at its factory near San Francisco. The lawsuit adds to a number of complaints the company has faced in recent years from former workers about racism and sexual harassment.

The New York fund, which manages around $280 billion, stands out by publicly pressuring Tesla to change its ways. On the other hand, the main shareholders of the electric vehicle company – Vanguard Group Inc., BlackRock Inc. and the investment unit of State Street Corp. – declined to comment on alleged discrimination at Tesla, citing their longstanding policy of not discussing individual companies.

If the government doesn’t pressure Tesla here, maybe a lot of money will.

4th gear: India has Tesla’s good idea

And speaking of Tesla, governments should see it as an opportunity, not a problem — an opportunity to move big bucks. From Bloomberg:

Tesla Inc. should commit to sourcing at least $500 million worth of auto components from India to accommodate the electric carmaker’s request for an import duty reduction on its vehicles, an official said. person familiar with government thinking.

Although it may start at a lower base, Tesla should agree to increase purchases of Indian parts by around 10% to 15% per year until a satisfactory level is reached, the person said, asking not to be identified because the discussions are private. . Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administration has formally asked Tesla to step up domestic sourcing, but has not yet communicated a procurement target to the company, the person said. Tesla in August claimed it came from approximately $100 million in parts from India.

The government has said it wants the electric vehicle pioneer to manufacture cars in the country, but appears to be using their interest to try to secure benefits for the nascent local electric car industry.

What is an electric car other than a chance to build all sorts of new, bulky, labor-intensive consumer products?

5th gear: Stellantis sends workers tips on how to apply for other jobs

… Electric vehicles are also a good thing that a car manufacturer can blame anything on. Here, for example, Stellantis is using electric vehicles as a crutch for harassment of workers on site. Like Bloomberg the says “Stellantis is getting creative in downsizing its French workforce amid an EV switch by encouraging them to apply for jobs elsewhere.”

Creative is one word for it! From B’berg:

Cutting jobs in France is never easy. So Stellantide has come up with a new way to cut its payroll: it emails workers with tips on how to get exciting new jobs – elsewhere. Employees regularly receive alerts about job fairs and services to help craft winning resumes — so much so that union reps accuse management of harassment.

“It’s not a good way to motivate people to work hard for the company,” said Christine Virassamy, a CFDT union representative. “We asked them to let go.”

When your company tells you to look for another job, it’s usually a good time to start looking for another job.

Reverse: Jean Behra Born

One of the figures of the golden age of Grand Prix racing, competing in the 1950s. He was born on February 16, 1921, but here is the story of his dramatic death at AVUS in 1959. From wiki:

Less than a month later it crashed Porsche RSK in rainy weather in the sports car race that preceded the German Grand Prix at AVUSin Berlin, Germany. He was thrown from his car and fatally injured when he hit a mast, causing a fractured skull.

Sports car racing featured small engine entries under 1500cc. After three laps, Behra was third behind Wolfgang from Trips and Bonnier, who eventually finished one and two. The AVUS was unique among racetracks. He used a strip of highway 2.5 miles (4.0 km) in length. The north and south lanes were fifty feet apart. At one end was a hair pin bend that the drivers negotiated at around 30 mph (48 km/h). At the other end was a 30-foot (9.1 m) high, steeply inclined loop. Behra lost control in the pouring rain while driving at 180 km/h. The Porsche began to fishtail with the tail of the car rising higher and higher on the smooth, steep bank. Then the Porsche spun and went over the embankment, nose pointed skyward. It landed heavily on its side above the bank. It was left shipwrecked there, while the race continued below. Behra was kicked out and for a fleeting moment he could be seen against the backdrop of the sky, arms outstretched as if trying to fly. It crashed into one of the eight masts arranged on top of the embankment which carried the flags of the competing nations. The mast overturned when Behra collided with it, about halfway to its top.

Neutral: what is your holy grail circuit?

I made the pilgrimage on the deadly AVUS circuit and this remains for me the most legendary track I have traveled. I’ll be a bit obsessed with it for as long as I live, I guess.


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