Most governments offer tax breaks or incentives for people to drive green. The federal tax credit for an electric car can reach $7,500. In California, hybrids and electrics allow you to drive solo in high-occupancy vehicle lanes. In Ohio, the state fairgrounds offer special parking for green cars.
Mississippi, however, is going the other direction.
In October, people who drive gas-electric hybrids started paying a $75 tax when they registered their cars or renewed their tags. All-electric car owners must pay $150. State officials estimate that 15,000 people will pay the new tax (14,000 hybrid drivers and 1,000 all-electric drivers).
While already drawing condemnation from environmentalists and complaints from anti-tax-increase proponents, the new tax comes from a place of practicality, not ideology, and it’s a sign of some future problems that we’re likely to face as new technologies become prevalent on the road.
Mississippi, as with all U.S. states, funds its highway maintenance, repairs, and new construction with proceeds from a 13-cents-per-gallon gasoline tax. So, people who don’t buy much or any gasoline aren’t paying to maintain the roads. On one hand, regulators push to improve fuel economy to reduce U.S. dependence on imported oil and to improve air quality. On the other hand, no one likes potholes.
Some lawmakers in Mississippi are vowing to repeal the new tax, but the issue won’t go away, and it’s not limited to hybrids and electrics. As traditional gasoline-powered cars and trucks get more fuel efficient, drivers will pay less in gasoline taxes while driving more, creating more challenges for road maintenance departments.
This funding crisis has been building slowly for more than a decade. I read a report prepared for Texas lawmakers who were studying the problem in 2011. The response from most states has been to transfer resources from general funds or to cut spending.
Technology will create other challenges. The push for autonomous cars and trucks could dramatically reduce accidents and fatalities, so lawmakers are doing everything they can to shepherd that technology into the market. However, self-driving cars that follow the rules don’t get speeding tickets.
While municipalities talk about the need to enforce speed limits in the name of public safety, no one denies that enforcement leads to revenue. Without speed traps, many communities would not be able to afford to have as many police officers on the road – something that may sound great to someone scared of a speed trap but terrifying to someone in need of immediate assistance.
As the technologies become common, the rules are going to have to change. Public funds generated from gasoline taxes, traffic tickets, and parking fees (cars that used to stay next to meters or in expensive municipal lots could in the future autonomously drive away to free spaces) will have to be replaced.
New technology promises a safer, greener future for everyone on the road. Now, we just have to figure out how to pay for it.
The MMH 500 horizontal machining center (HMC) comes with 60m/min linear axis speed and a 12,000rpm direct drive spindle (optional 15,000rpm) for increased machine throughput per spindle and high-speed cutting capabilities.
An infinite contouring B-axis table delivers higher precision part cutting. Designed for 480V power connections, the MMH 500 is designed and built with North American Controls Design and Safety Standards, conforming to U.S., Canadian, and Mexican safety standards.
MAG Automotive LLC
Heavy-duty, continuous dress creep-feed grinders
The Blohm Profimat XT heavy-duty, continuous-dress, creep-feed grinder offers rigidity, power, and fast axis speeds for higher grinding productivity.
Table speeds greater than 1,500ipm, along with a quick changeover wheel-dresser system and improved acceleration/deceleration rates, offer optimal positioning speeds and short cycle times.
With an 80hp spindle and up to 8"-wide grinding wheels, the Profimat XT can machine large parts with high stock-removal requirements. Speed improvements double axis movement and triple acceleration/deceleration. Overall grinding cycle times fall as much as 30%. To improve stiffness, the machine uses a ribbed base and column casting with dual
A Siemens Sinumerik 840D
United Grinding North America Inc. http://www.grinding.com
Aluminum rougher end mills
An expanded line of aluminum rougher (AR) end mills
LMT Onsrud USA
A new suite of tests developed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and three industry partners could enable vehicle exteriors that resist dings, dents, and scratches.
Researchers at NIST, Hyundai America Technical Center, Eastman Chemical Co., and Anton Paar USA developed three versions of a fast, reliable laboratory method for simulating scratching processes on automobile clearcoats – the surface layer of an exterior polymer composite coating. The tests give manufacturers a better understanding of the mechanisms behind those processes so future coatings can be made more scratch resistant and resilient.
Automobile coating manufacturers use two test methods to evaluate clearcoat scratch resistance and predict field performance:
- Crockmeter – A device that moves a robotic finger back and forth, with varying degrees of force, mimics damage from human contact and abrasive surfaces
- Amtech-Kistler car wash – A rotating wheel of brushes simulates car washes
“Unfortunately, both methods only assess clearcoat performance based on appearance, a qualitative measure where the results vary from test to test, and they don’t provide the quantitative data that scientifically helps us understand what happens to auto finishes in real life,” says NIST physicist Li Piin Sung.
Researchers instead focused on molecular-level changes to surface finishes. In the initial test, researchers tapped a
- Nano – NIST; 1µm tip radius; 0
micronewtons(µN)-to-30mN force range
- Micro – Anton Paar; 50µm tip radius; 25µN-to-5N force range
- Macro – Eastman Chemical; 200µm tip radius; 0.5N-to-30N force range
Scratches that are a few micrometers in depth and width, and occur without fracture, are referred to as mars. The shallow, difficult-to-see deformations are most often the result of car washing, Sung says.
“Data from the nano-scratch test also proved best for determining how well the coating responded to physical insult based on its crosslink density, the measure of how tightly the polymer components are bound together,” Sung says. “With this molecular-level understanding, clearcoat formulas can be improved so that they yield materials dense enough to be scratch resistant and resilient but not so hard that they cannot be worked with easily.”
Researchers recommend nano-, micro-, and macro-scratch tests to be run in conjunction with the standard industry methods to qualitatively and quantitatively characterize coating performance.
Eastman Chemical Co.
Hyundai America Technical Center
National Institute of Standards and Technology
With President Donald Trump’s administration calling for easing of Obama-era fuel economy rules that call for 54.5mpg by 2025, major automakers offered differing opinions in hearings and in public comments in recent months. The Trump proposal would freeze standards at levels envisioned for 2020 and would cancel a waiver that lets California and several other states set their own efficiency and emissions rules. http://www.epa.gov; http://www.nhtsa.gov
General Motors (GM) – The country’s largest automaker proposed rules that would expand California’s all-electric vehicles (EVs) mandate nationwide, making EVs 25% of new-car sales by 2030.
“GM strongly believes that EVs are the future of transportation. But, the path to that future will require deliberate regulatory incentives due to the high cost of batteries and competition from foreign manufacturers,” GM officials said in regulatory filings.
GM’s filings support canceling California’s rule-making ability. Toyota and several other automakers used similar language in opposing California’s waiver.
Ford Motor Co. – Unlike GM and Toyota, Ford officials support California’s waivers, saying that eliminating green states’ abilities to set their own rules would likely launch a wave of lawsuits. Litigation could tie up rule-making processes for years, making it difficult for automakers to plan what cars and trucks to design and build.
“The long-term impact is difficult to quantify, but could be quite negative to Ford's financial health and its employees,” company officials said.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) – FCA supports revoking California’s rule-making ability, and the company offered the most direct support to Trump’s proposals, saying many of the assumptions that automakers and regulators used to set rules in 2012 were wrong. Regulators assumed that cars would move from 50% of vehicle sales to about 57% by 2025. Instead, cars fell to 30% of
Tesla – The EV maker is the strongest critic of Trump’s proposals, saying it has proven that standards are achievable and that reducing fuel economy targets will stifle innovation.
Honda –Honda rejected the call to revoke California’s rulemaking ability, with officials saying the effort would bring “years of uncertainty for the auto industry while federal and state parties litigate.” Honda also opposes freezing standards, saying automakers should face stricter annual targets
Tesla CEO Elon Musk settles with regulators, steps down as chairman
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) settled with Tesla Chairman and CEO Elon Musk and his company for $40 million, Musk’s ouster as chairman, and agreements to put people in place to monitor the CEO’s communications with investors.
The SEC had sought to remove Musk as chairman and CEO in its suit, saying he misled markets when he announced he had “funding secured” to take Tesla private in August.
That deal fell apart weeks later, and the funding turned out to have been an unofficial verbal deal with Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund.
In the settlement, Musk agreed to resign as chairman and be replaced with an independent chairman. Two independent directors will also join the board, and a committee of independent directors will develop controls and procedures to oversee Musk’s communications.
Musk and Tesla will each pay $20 million, $40 million total, in fines – Musk for violating communications standards and Tesla for not having adequate protections in place to prevent him from doing so. http://www.sec.gov; http://www.tesla.com