The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Volkswagen are continuing talks on how to repair VW, Audi, and Porsche 3.0L diesel engines for cheating on emissions tests, after California regulators reject VW’s most recent recall proposal. In a letter to Volkswagen, CARB listed the failures of the proposed solution, saying that the company failed to provide a full description of the defeat devices, the impact the fix would have on vehicle performance and emissions, or even a description of the fix that would allow CARB to evaluate its feasibility.

The announcement is a setback for the automaker who believed that the 3.0-liter TDI models sold by Porsche, Audi and Volkswagen would only require a software update. If the manufacturer is unable to come up with a satisfactory fix, they could be forced into buying back almost 85,000 vehicles. VW also continues to face lawsuits by investors and dealerships in the U.S., as well as from consumer in Germany.

With the beginning of 2016, California enacted new laws affecting the day-to-day operations of California residents. The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) are reminding everyone that several of these laws will directly affect transportation. SB 491 (Earbuds & Headsets) is one notable law that makes it illegal to wear a headset covering, earplugs in, or earphones covering, resting on, or inserted in, both ears, while operating a motor vehicle or a bicycle. (This law does not apply to persons operating authorized emergency vehicles, construction equipment and refuse or waste equipment while wearing a headset or safety earplugs.) Continue reading

Tesla Motor’s highly anticipated charging network has finally been unveiled to the public with the revelation of it first six supercharger stations. According to Tesla, the stations will safely deliver up to 4.5 times more electricity to the battery giving approximately half a charge in half an hour. It will do this by using special cables that connect directly to the battery, bypassing any on board charging equipment. The most unique thing about these charging stations is that many will be equipped with solar cells mounted on the weather canopy that will generate more energy over the course of a year than is consumed by Tesla vehicles using the supercharger stations, resulting in a positive transfer of power back to the electricity grid. Current active stations in California can be found in Barstow, Hawthorne, Lebec, Coalinga, Gilroy and Folsom. By 2015, Tesla hopes to expand their supercharger network to over 100 stations.

Last years Los Angeles Auto Show focused on the electric car with the debut of the Chevrolet Volt and the Nissan Leaf. Throughout the year, other automobile manufacturers continued to release electric hybrid and electric cars, but sales were poor even with government rebates and perks. This years LA Auto show still has its share of electric vehicles, but the 2012 Green Car of the Year shows that there is no single solution to efficient and environmentally friendly vehicles.

Some of this years contenders included the Ford Focus Electric, Mitsubishi i, Toyota Prius V and Volkswagen Passat TDI, but the six judge panel decided to award the Honda Civic Natural Gas version the 2012 green car of the year award. According to Ron Cogan, editor and publisher of the Green Car Journal, “The new generation Civic Natural Gas features greater fuel efficiency, a more attractive and roomier design with tailpipe emissions lower than any other internal combustion produced vehicle. There is no other vehicle like the Civic Natural Gas on American highways, and this recognition has been a long time coming for Honda.”

The Civic Natural Gas is the only natural gas passenger vehicle to be mass produced. It was first introduced as a fleet vehicle in 1998, and is in its fifth generation. It offers 110 horsepower and has a range of about 240 miles on a full tank. It is reasonably priced at just over $26,000, and is available at 200 Honda dealers in 36 states.

Nissan is recalling some 2011-2012 Infiniti G37 Coupe and 2011 Nissan 370Z vehicles for a problem with the power windows. According to the report filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) the power window switch controller may be manufactured out of specification making the auto reverse feature inaccurate. If a body part should become trapped by a closing window, a pinch injury could result before the window reverses. Owners wanting more information on the recall can contact Nissan at 1800-647-7261 or Infiniti at 1-800-662-6200.

According to a court ruling on Monday, drivers in California who use their non hands free cellphones while stopped at a red light or in a traffic jam will be ticketed if caught. This ruling comes after Richmond driver, Carl Nelson, received a ticket from an officer who saw him using his phone at a stop light in December of 2009. He argued he was not driving because the car was stopped while he made the call. Nelson referred to a 1991 Supreme Court ruling that said the term “drive” requires proof of “volitional movements”. In this case, a man suspected of drunk driving, was found asleep behind his running vehicle while parked on a residential street. Court threw out the case saying that there was no “volitional movement.”

In a 3-0 ruling, judges said that even though Nelson was paused at the time, he was driving on the road in the midst of other moving traffic, and distractions in this situation could create hazards to other drivers on the road. Nelson’s attorney said he plans to appeal to the state’s high court.

On July 1, 2011 the state of California decided to revoked carpool privileges for hybrid and electric vehicles. They were hoping to decrease traffic congestion in these High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) Lanes as the amount of hybrid and electric vehicles on the roads increased. According to a study done by researchers at UC Berkeley Institute of Transportation, the additional vehicles in the regular traffic lanes has slowed all traffic substantially.

Using traffic flow theories and six months of data from roadway sensors measuring speed and congestion along all freeway carpool lanes in the San Francisco Bay Area, researchers found that the slower traffic in the regular lanes made it more difficult for the carpool drivers to migrate in and out of the HOV lanes. The result was an increase of traffic congestion in all lanes. The study suggests that the state should reconsider their decision, and allow the hybrid and electric vehicles back in the carpool lanes.

In an unanimous vote on Wednesday, Los Angeles City Council has decided to terminate the city’s controversial red light camera program. According to council members, loop holes in the laws governing the program resulted in only about 60% of the tickets being paid, failing to generate enough income to keep the program going. Both the Police Commission and the Los Angeles Superior Court felt the program could not be enforced and should be canceled. Critics of the program felt that the city was using the program only for revenue and accused them of putting up the cameras at intersections that would generate the most income and did little to improve safety on the roads. Camera programs have been canceled by many cities and towns across the country and the viability of programs still in affect are being questioned.