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"The Relay" Online Newsletter
November 2022 Issue

This is the monthly online newsletter for the car club council. All car hobbyist events are listed on this site under "Calendar." Just click on the link above to view the list of car shows and other activities.

President's Message

Our last council meeting was at a very nice place. No music, no interruptions and great food. Jo-Jo's South went out of their way to make things right for us. It was nice to have real service. At the meeting we discussed the federal and state reports along with setting a date and budget for the 4th Annual Breakthrough Show and 28th anniversary of the council. The date will be May 13 and we have a couple of rain dates in case of rain on show day. The budget will cover the trophies and dash plaques with enough money to pay for a DJ and other things if needed. We are not going to have the $5 food coupons at the next show. Each previous show less than half were used and the council only has so much money - so they have been dropped which will mean we could keep this show going for a number of years in the future.

The seasonal cruise-ins are going to be removed this month. The only ones on the calendar will be year round ones held depending on the weather. If your group holds a year round cruise-in be sure to let me know. We are also posting 2023 events so if your group or club has an event for next year send it in and it will be posted in the calendar.

Below are a lot of good articles sourced from a number of different places - be sure to check them out. Car season is pretty much over for this year.

~ Fred

Next Meeting

The next meeting will be Monday, January 24th at 6:30 PM at a location to be announced in the January newsletter.

Marking Catalytic Converters to Stop Theft

Henrico, Richmond, and Chesterfield are offering a program to mark residents’ catalytic converters with a different color paint for each jurisdiction. The hope is that these paint markings will discourage thieves by making the converter more easily identifiable. You can register and Midas will paint your converter. Info at Operation Catalytic Converter Crackdown.


Still time to make it to some events before winter really hits

Car Hobbyist News

We all know the reason electric vehicles are being pushed on everyone – climate change. Those nasty fossil fuels are causing the world to warm up. But all of this depends on whether people actually believe in climate change. Note that the TV media isn’t talking much about climate change because they don’t want people to think about it because if you think about it all this green agenda doesn’t make sense. Now a poll has come out stating that “Concern about climate change shrinks globally as threat grows – study” posted by Reuters.

This shouldn’t be a surprise. The rise of inflation has caused people to be concerned about the economy. A quote from the report “Concerns about climate change shrank across the world last year, a survey shows, with fewer than half those questioned believing it posed a "very serious threat" to their countries in the next 20 years.”

More quotes “Only 20% of people in China, the world's biggest polluter, said they believed that climate change was a very serious threat, down 3 percentage points from the previous poll in 2019, the survey by Gallup World Risk Poll showed on Wednesday.” And “Regions with the highest ecological threats are on average the least concerned about climate change, with only 27.4% of the Middle East and North Africa and 39.1% of South Asian respondents concerned about the risks.” For some reason the politicos and the media don’t understand people are more concerned with the price of food, gas, rent and other necessities because “they” just don’t think like normal people. And this is good – the more people that doubt climate change the better for us economically.

And now our own big Dominion Energy wind farm may be sued by a conservative think tank and environmental groups. Yes, true environmentalists know all this green agenda does is move money from the middle class to the upper class and government. And here it is: A coalition of public interest groups – The Heartland Institute, the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT), and the American Coalition for Ocean Protection (ACOP) – announced in late September that they have hired counsel to explore a lawsuit protecting the right whale from Dominion Energy Virginia’s efforts to place an offshore wind (OSW) project directly in their habitat off the coast of Virginia.

Virginia’s Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy is participating in the American Coalition for Ocean Protection (ACOP). ”While the Jefferson Institute’s concerns are more focused on the unreasonable ratepayer cost and ratepayer risk the project imposes on Dominion’s 2.5 million Virginia customer accounts,” noted Institute president Chris Braunlich, “we share the concern that environmental laws be applied uniformly and transparently, and not be ignored for politically-driven proposals.”

“Too much of the Dominion application is shrouded in secrecy,” Braunlich continued, “including the effect on wildlife in the area of the proposed windfarm. All the facts should be put on the table before a project of this magnitude is approved.”

More good news from Virginia: Governor Glenn Youngkin released his 2022 Energy Plan (2022 energy Plan), largely reversing most of the “Green Agenda” imposed by his predecessor and advocating for an “all of the above” solution -- including nuclear -- to Virginia’s coming energy demands and pointing out that an overreliance on wind and solar is certain to create energy shortages in the future without planning for replacement. The plan includes a new Southwest Virginia nuclear reactor, which is making local leaders there ecstatic. And, The Wall Street Journal editorially notes, it is a Declaration of Independence from California.

This is great news as Virginia produces in state less than half the electricity we need today and of course there will be more demand in the future. We need more power plants and they can be “green” – nuclear and hydro-electric.

On the federal front lines our president has released more oil reserves just before the mid-term elections because he just can’t keep the price of oil from going up. OPEC+ has cut production because – and I’m guessing here – that they don’t like him any better than most Americans.

Also on the federal front lines is the trucking industry lobbying Congress to increase the weight limits of tractor trailers. The current limit is 80,000 pounds but because EVs are much heavier than gas vehicles it will be more costly to deliver them. In other words those portable parking lot tractor trailers might have to carry fewer vehicles increasing delivery costs on an already more expensive vehicle than the gas powered ones. The solution is increase the limit to 88,000 pounds which was done on a temp basis to help unload all those ships off the California coast.

But this increase from 80,000 to 88,000 comes with costs. The extra weight means roads will wear out faster, diesels will get lower mileage and spew more of that carbon dioxide into the air, accidents will be worse because of the extra weight. From Reuters: “The U.S. Department of Transportation declined to say whether it supports or opposes lifting weight limits on car haulers, noting the ultimate decision lies with Congress Congressional committees overseeing transportation said they have yet to take a position on the issue.”

And finally the mid-term elections – as I’ve said before even if the Republicans take both houses the Biden administration is still in charge. The president can veto any legislation and the federal agencies that run the country will keep on doing what they’re doing now. However committees in Congress could hold some hearings that might actually be worth watching. So go out and vote and continue to hope that the best is yet to come.

Old Dominion Late Great Chevy Club Annual Car Show - October 8
Old Dominion Late Great Chevy Club Annual Car Show - October 8
See all the photos at Album - opens to a new window

More Rules for Virginia, Made in California

By Stephen D. Haner, Senior Fellow with the Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy
Virginia’s auto industry overlords in California have a new set of proposed mandates for both electric and internal combustion vehicles which will automatically apply here in the Commonwealth. They do not advance the date for banning the sale of new gasoline and diesel vehicles earlier than 2035 but do increase the incremental targets for percentage of EV sales in earlier years.

Virginia’s dying news media cannot cover this state anymore, so don’t expect coverage of actions in Sacramento. And, of course, the corporate media is now dominated by editors, writers and owners committed to the war on fossil fuels.

Adding to that, Virginia’s auto dealers themselves (big advertisers and campaign donors) played a huge role in supporting the decision by former Governor Ralph Northam (D) and the then-majority Democrats in the legislature to pass the 2021 bill putting Virginia under California’s control. A 2022 bill to reverse that passed the House with its new Republican majority, but failed on a party line vote in a Senate committee controlled by Democrats.

A recent CARB PowerPoint slide deck on the proposal includes one showing all the states which have decided to follow California’s rather than federal vehicle regulations, and claims they account for 40% of all U.S. vehicle sales. Starting with the 2026 model year, 35% of all new vehicle sales would have to be zero emission vehicles in Virginia, not the previous target of 26% under the current regulation.

Given the price differentials and the investment it is making in EV conversion, the auto industry is probably ecstatic. The CARB claims that 300-mile range battery vehicles will achieve cost parity with the older technology by 2033, and offers illustrations of lower lifetime costs, but the initial sticker prices are likely to remain high and the industry really wants to sell the larger cars, SUVs and light trucks, too.

If you have any skin in this game, the slide deck and an accompanying description of all the related regulatory proposals are important to review. The depth and breadth of the proposal is impressive. Responding to known elements of consumer resistance to EVs, the rules dive into charging technology, battery life and labeling, and maintenance and warranty requirements.

One goal is to maintain 75-80% of the initial range of the vehicles for their whole useful life, an admission, apparently, that many of the vehicles now being sold lose substantial range over time. That doesn’t happen to a well-maintained internal combustion engine.

Plug-in hybrids will have to go at least 50 miles on a charge (they don’t now?). And, recognizing that internal combustion vehicles will remain on the road for decades, California will impose new fleet standards on them and seek to reduce aggressive driving and cold starts, impose new design standards to prevent evaporation of fuel, and in general remake the industry to its liking.

Starting in 2025, the fleet fuel economy requirements will be calculated with EV’s removed from the equation, and they are totally disregarded from the calculation after 2029. That will force changes with the internal combustion vehicles still being sold.

Even the towing industry is in for some changes.

The claim is that adopting this will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2040, which is conceivable only if the claim applies solely to motor vehicle emissions. The slide also shows vehicle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions going down about 20% in that period if these regulations are not imposed. The regulations have even less impact on vehicle nitrous oxide (NOx) emissions, also dropping on their own.

California claims the savings to the state and consumers exceed the cost without considering “health benefits or the social cost of carbon.” The health benefits are always exaggerated, if not imagined, and the social cost of carbon is definitely a made-up number.

There is an environmental justice component, “to reward direct automaker action.” Plans include discounted EVs for community programs, lower retail prices, and more used EV’s being directed to participating dealerships. Whether those elements of California’s plan will also apply in Virginia is not clear. If they are tied into the carrot and stick methods California uses to manage dealer and automaker behavior, it is likely they will.

The 2021 General Assembly majority completely surrendered (some might suspect sold) the sovereignty of their constituents. If they didn’t anticipate California was just getting started and would double down, they should have. Bowing under federal regulations is one thing, as Virginians get to vote for members of Congress and the President. No one in Virginia votes for California’s legislators or governor (or can sign a California initiative and referendum petition).

But we do vote on the Virginia legislature again in 16 months.

Veteran's Day November 11

Below are two stories of World War I veterans from Wikipedia. What is different about the two stories is they are not about men or women veterans but about two animal veterans that saved the lives of troops during wartime.

On October 3, 1918, Major Charles White Whittlesey and more than 550 men were trapped in a small depression on the side of the hill behind enemy lines without food or ammunition. They were also beginning to receive friendly fire from allied troops who did not know their location. Surrounded by the Germans, many were killed and wounded and only 194 men were still alive and not captured or wounded by the end of the engagement. Because his runners were consistently intercepted or killed by the Germans, Whittlesey began dispatching messages by pigeon. The pigeon carrying the first message, "Many wounded. We cannot evacuate." was shot down. A second bird was sent with the message, "Men are suffering. Can support be sent?" That pigeon also was shot down. The artillery batteries supporting Whittlesey's men attempted to provide a "barrage of protection" for Whittlesey's men on the northern slope of the Charlevaux Ravine, but believed Whittlesey was on the southern slope of the ravine, resulting in a barrage inadvertently targeting the battalion. "Cher Ami" was dispatched with a note, written on onion paper, in a canister on his right leg,

We are along the road paralell to 276.4. Our own artillery is dropping a barrage directly on us. For heavens sake stop it.

As Cher Ami tried to fly back home, the Germans saw him rising out of the brush and opened fire. After several seconds, he was shot down but managed to take flight again. He arrived back at his loft at division headquarters 25 miles (40 km) to the rear in just 25 minutes, helping to save the lives of the 194 survivors. He had been shot through the breast, blinded in one eye, and had a leg hanging only by a tendon.

Cher Ami became the hero of the 77th Infantry Division. Army medics worked to save his life. When he recovered enough to travel, the now one-legged bird was put on a boat to the United States, with General John J. Pershing seeing him off.

Awards
The pigeon was awarded the Croix de Guerre Medal with a palm Oak Leaf Cluster for his heroic service in delivering 12 important messages in Verdun. He died at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey, on June 13, 1919, from the wounds he received in battle and was later inducted into the Racing Pigeon Hall of Fame in 1931. He also received a gold medal from the Organized Bodies of American Racing Pigeon Fanciers in recognition of his service during World War I.

In November 2019, he became one of the first winners of the Animals in War & Peace Medal of Bravery, bestowed on him posthumously at ceremony on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.

Legacy
To American school children of the 1920s and 1930s, Cher Ami was as well known as any human World War I heroes. Cher Ami's body was later mounted by taxidermist Nelson R. Wood at the National Museum of Natural History. When the Smithsonian requested information about Cher Ami, the Signal Corps reported they could not find any war record of Cher Ami being the pigeon "which carried the message from The Lost Battalion." Listing the known details of the bird, the Army, without explanation, described Cher Ami as "he" and the Smithsonian's label reflected the bird's sex as a cock bird. In 2021, the National Museum of American History, together with the National Museum of Natural History and the Smithsonian's National Zoo, had DNA samples from Cher Ami analyzed which concluded the bird is a cock bird. Since 1921, Cher Ami has been on display at the Smithsonian Institution. He is on display with Sergeant Stubby, the (presumed) Boston Terrier mascot of the US Army's 102nd Infantry, in the National Museum of American History's "Price of Freedom" exhibit.

The Lost Battalion (1919 film), a 1919 silent film, includes the living Cher Ami hopping on one leg. This film also includes many of the soldiers playing themselves, including Lt. Col. Charles Whittlesey. The entire film is available on YouTube.


Sergeant Stubby (1916 – March 16, 1926) was a dog and the unofficial mascot of the 102nd Infantry Regiment (United States) and was assigned to the 26th (Yankee) Division in World War I. He served for 18 months and participated in 17 battles on the Western Front. He saved his regiment from surprise mustard gas attacks, found and comforted the wounded, and allegedly once caught a German soldier by the seat of his pants, holding him there until American soldiers found him. His actions were well-documented in contemporary American newspapers.

Stubby has been called the most decorated war dog of the Great War and the only dog to be nominated and promoted to sergeant through combat. Stubby's remains are in the Smithsonian Institution.

Stubby is the subject of a 2018 animated film.

Early life
Stubby was described in contemporaneous news items as a Boston Terrier or "American bull terrier"[a] mutt. Describing him as a dog of "uncertain breed," Ann Bausum wrote that: "The brindle-patterned pup probably owed at least some of his parentage to the evolving family of Boston Terriers, a breed so new that even its name was in flux: Boston Round Heads, American...and Boston Bull Terriers."Stubby was found wandering the grounds of the Yale University campus in New Haven, Connecticut in July 1917, while members of the 102nd Infantry were training. He hung around as the men drilled and one soldier in particular, Corporal James Robert Conroy (1892-1987), developed a fondness for him. When it came time for the outfit to ship out, Conroy hid Stubby on board the troop ship. As they were getting off the ship in France, he hid Stubby under his overcoat without detection. Upon discovery by Conroy's commanding officer, Stubby saluted him as he had been trained to in camp, and the commanding officer allowed the dog to stay on board

Military service
Stubby served with the 102nd Infantry Regiment in the trenches in France for 18 months and participated in four offensives and 17 battles. He entered combat on February 5, 1918, at Chemin des Dames, north of Soissons, and was under constant fire, day and night for over a month. In April 1918, during a raid to take Seicheprey, Stubby was wounded in the foreleg by retreating Germans throwing hand grenades. He was sent to the rear for convalescence and, as he had done on the front, improved morale. When he recovered from his wounds, Stubby returned to the trenches.

In his first year of battle, Stubby was injured by mustard gas. After he recovered, he returned with a specially designed gas mask to protect him. He thus learned to warn his unit of mustard gas attacks, locate wounded soldiers in no man's land, and—since he could hear the whine of incoming artillery shells before humans—became very adept at alerting his unit when to duck for cover. He was solely responsible for capturing a German spy in the Argonne, leading to their unit's commander nominating Stubby for the rank of sergeant. Following the retaking of Château-Thierry by the U.S., women of the town made Stubby a chamois coat upon which his many medals were pinned. He was later injured again, in the chest and leg by a grenade. He ultimately had two wound stripes. At the end of the war, Robert Conroy smuggled Stubby home.

After the war
After returning home, Stubby became a celebrity and marched in, and normally led, many parades across the country. He met Presidents Woodrow Wilson, Calvin Coolidge, and Warren G. Harding. He also appeared on vaudeville stages owned by Sylvester Z. Poli and was awarded lifetime memberships to the American Legion and the YMCA.

In 1921, General of the Armies John J. Pershing presented a gold medal from the Humane Education Society to Stubby, the subject of a famous photograph and other artistic media. During that same year, he attended Georgetown University Law Center along with Conroy, and became the Georgetown Hoyas' team mascot. Given a football at halftime, he would nudge it around the field, to the amusement of the fans. While still a student at Georgetown, Conroy was also employed as a special agent of the Bureau of Investigation, precursor to the FBI.

Stubby died in his sleep in March 1926. After his death he was preserved via taxidermy and his cremains were sealed inside of the mount. Conroy later presented Stubby to the Smithsonian in 1956. The taxidermy mount of the dog is part of the permanent collection at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History and is currently on display in their “Price of Freedom: Americans at War” exhibit.

Legacy
Stubby received an obituary in the New York Times following his death in 1926. The obituary was half a page, much longer than the obituaries of many notable people of that time period.

He was also the subject of a portrait by "Capitol artist" Charles Ayer Whipple. He was featured in the Brave Beasts exhibit at the Legermuseum in Delft, The Netherlands from 2008 to 2009. During a ceremony held on Armistice Day in 2006, a brick was placed in the Walk of Honor at the Liberty Memorial in Kansas City to commemorate Sergeant Stubby.

Stubby was the subject of at least four books. In 2014, BBC Schools WWI series used Stubby as a Famous Figure to help teach children about the war, along with creating an animated comic strip to illustrate his life.

Stubby has his portrait on display at the West Haven Military Museum in Connecticut.

The descendants of Robert Conroy dedicated a life-size bronze statue of Stubby named "Stubby Salutes," by Susan Bahary, in the Connecticut Trees of Honor Memorial at Veteran's Memorial Park in Middletown, Connecticut, in May 2018. The statue pays tribute to fallen Connecticut veterans, where both Stubby and Robert Conroy are from.

OBGCC Annual Fall Classic Show
OBGCC Annual Fall Classic Show October 15 ~ see all the photos at Album - opens to a new window

Public Interest Groups Join to Explore Lawsuit over Dominion Windfarm

From The Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy
A coalition of public interest groups – The Heartland Institute, the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT), and the American Coalition for Ocean Protection (ACOP) – announced in late September that they have hired counsel to explore a lawsuit protecting the right whale from Dominion Energy Virginia’s efforts to place an offshore wind (OSW) project directly in their habitat off the coast of Virginia.

Virginia’s Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy is participating in the American Coalition for Ocean Protection (ACOP). ”While the Jefferson Institute’s concerns are more focused on the unreasonable ratepayer cost and ratepayer risk the project imposes on Dominion’s 2.5 million Virginia customer accounts,” noted Institute president Chris Braunlich, “we share the concern that environmental laws be applied uniformly and transparently, and not be ignored for politically-driven proposals.”

“Too much of the Dominion application is shrouded in secrecy,” Braunlich continued, “including the effect on wildlife in the area of the proposed windfarm. All the facts should be put on the table before a project of this magnitude is approved.”

Approval of the project at the state level by the State Corporation Commission, or the Virginia Supreme Court if aspects of the SCC decision are appealed, is not the final green light for construction of the $10 billion project.

The coalition has retained as counsel the law firm of Gatzke, Dillon and Ballance (GDB) of Carlsbad, California to represent them in evaluating the upcoming draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), which the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) is producing for the Dominion’s Coastal Virginia Offshore Energy Project.

GDB has extensive experience representing plaintiffs pursuing litigation to defend whales and a strong track record of success in challenging proposed U.S. offshore wind projects.

“Unless BOEM requires extensive, effective, unprecedented protection measures for the North Atlantic right whale immediately, this species is almost certainly headed toward extinction,” said David Stevenson, president of ACOP. “With only a little more than 300 individual right whales alive today, this endangered species is in dire need of protection, and the Virginia Wind Project lies directly in their annual migration path. The project will require extensive daily maintenance by multiple service ships, and the potential for whale fatalities due to ship strikes is indisputable.”

Initially, GDB will provide the coalition with advice and counsel to determine if BOEM has undertaken the legally required “hard look” at the OSW Project in order to provide necessary protection for Virginia’s environment and for the state’s electricity consumers, as required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). In addition, the firm will advise the coalition as to whether or not the EIS draft meets the requirements of the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the Clean Water Act, the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, and other relevant federal and state statutes that govern the construction and maintenance of the project.

“We are very pleased to have retained the services of a law firm with such extensive expertise in the requirements of federal laws such as NEPA and ESA,” said CFACT President Craig Rucker. “We are not only very concerned about the future of the right whale, which extensively uses the ocean waters affected by the wind-power project, but also concerned as to how BOEM will address the fact that this project, despite its alleged benefits regarding carbon dioxide and climate change, will actually cause the release of more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than it will consume.”

BOEM anticipates that the draft EIS for the Virginia Wind Project will be released for public review and comment later this year. Dominion Energy is proposing to build 176 wind towers, which would stand more than 700 feet tall 27 miles off the coast of Virginia Beach. The company has announced that it expects to begin generating electricity from the project by the end of 2026.

“The Virginia Wind Project is a risky, costly, waste of resources and a pitiful way to generate electricity for a state which claims to be business and consumer friendly,” said Heartland Institute President James Taylor. “Before construction commences, the project should be given the same level of scrutiny for environmental protection by the courts and the federal authorities as has been provided for fossil fuel projects in Virginia, such as the Mountain Valley Pipeline.”

GDB has represented plaintiffs who have brought suits against BOEM, the Department of the Interior, the National Marine Fisheries Service, and other federal agencies with respect to the New York Bight offshore wind project off the coast of New York and New Jersey, as well as the Vineyard Wind project off the southern shore of Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts. These suits seek declaratory and injunctive relief and are currently pending in the Federal District Court for the District of Columbia and the Federal District Court in Massachusetts, respectively.

“We are equally troubled that Virginia ratepayers could be exposed to huge rate increases resulting from intermittent, unreliable wind generation,” added Rucker. “Should litigation become necessary to remedy deficiencies in BOEM’s final EIS, we are grateful to have experienced counsel for advice as we move forward.”

The coalition intends to comment on the draft EIS within 45 days of its issuance by BOEM, unless BOEM provides for a longer public review and comment period.

32nd Annual BOPC Show
32nd Annual BOPC Show October 16 ~ see all the photos at Album - opens to a new window

Varina Ruritan Car Show 2022
Varina Ruritan Car Show 2022 October 22 ~ see all the photos at Album - opens to a new window

As EV Sales Grow, Battle Over U.S. Road Weight Limits Heats Up

Reuters uncovered a new and growing concern: Electric vehicles are heavy—the Ford F-150 Lightning weighs about 1600 pounds more than a comparable gas-powered pickup, due to the weight of the batteries—and truckers are dealing with decades-old federal limits that can easily be overtaxed by a load of EVs. “The truth is we will not be able move as many electric vehicles under the current weight limit. That could mean more trucks on the road, delays in orders and increased costs,” Sarah Amico told Reuters. She is executive chairman of Jack Cooper, among the largest car haulers in North America. The American Trucking Associations has asked lawmakers to increase the 80,000-pound weight limit by 10 percent, to 88,000 pounds, saying the current weight limit is unsustainable given the trends.

From Reuters
Car haulers are pushing the Biden administration and lawmakers to increase truck weight limits on U.S. highways so they can transport more heavy electric vehicles, a move fiercely opposed by the rail industry and safety advocates who say the heavier loads are significantly more dangerous.

Even before a recent spike in EV sales, U.S. roads have been carrying heavier loads, as cars and trucks climbed from an average of 3,200 pounds (1,451 kilos) to 4,200 pounds over the last four decades, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Electric vehicles, with their heavy batteries, weigh significantly more than gas-fueled cars. While they make up less than 1% of cars on U.S. roads, President Joe Biden wants EVs to reach half of vehicle sales by 2030, and he and his Democratic Party have put billions in federal funds behind the goal.

Car haulers, the pipeline of the auto industry, move thousands of cars each day from factory parking lots, ports and rail yards to dealers, often using open double-decker trailers. If decades-old U.S. road weight limits are not increased, it could slow deliveries and increase costs, putting at risk this historic bet on zero-emission vehicles, they say.

"The truth is we will not be able move as many electric vehicles under the current weight limit. That could mean more trucks on the road, delays in orders and increased costs," said Sarah Amico, executive chairman of Jack Cooper, among the largest car haulers in North America.

Individual trailers are currently restricted by federal highway safety standards dating to 1975 to 80,000 pounds gross vehicle weight, including a truck and trailer that can account for half of the limit.

Electric vehicles, with their heavy batteries, weigh significantly more than gas-fueled cars. While they make up less than 1% of cars on U.S. roads, President Joe Biden wants EVs to reach half of vehicle sales by 2030, and he and his Democratic Party have put billions in federal funds behind the goal.

Car haulers, the pipeline of the auto industry, move thousands of cars each day from factory parking lots, ports and rail yards to dealers, often using open double-decker trailers. If decades-old U.S. road weight limits are not increased, it could slow deliveries and increase costs, putting at risk this historic bet on zero-emission vehicles, they say.

In recent months, the car hauling industry has stepped up lobbying efforts with lawmakers on key committees and officials at the Department of Transportation, Commerce and the White House National Economic Council, interviews with industry and administration officials show.

They have pled their case in face-to-face meetings, letters, and round tables. However, the move is firmly opposed by their rivals in the freight rail industry, and safety experts who warn heavier vehicles are harder to stop, easier to roll and result in more wear and tear on roads and bridges.

This is the latest effort by the trucking industry to leverage a political situation like growing interest in EVs to push for higher weight limits, something motorists oppose, says Cathy Chase, President of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety.

"With any incremental change comes incremental danger, and that results in more fatalities," Chase said. U.S. traffic fatality rates are higher than Europe, and deaths have jumped since the pandemic to nearly 43,000 people a year.

CONGRESS, NOT BIDEN, WILL DECIDE

The U.S. Department of Transportation declined to say whether it supports or opposes lifting weight limits on car haulers, noting the ultimate decision lies with Congress

Congressional committees overseeing transportation said they have yet to take a position on the issue.

However, Rodney Davis, a Republican lawmaker from Illinois who serves on the House Transportation Committee and is ranking member on the highway subcommittee, says he's working to increase weight limits.

"The auto transporter industry needs a modest 5% to 10% weight variance. Otherwise, an already-challenged supply chain will require more tractor trailer rigs on the nation’s highways to deliver the same number of finished vehicles. That means more miles driven, more wear and tear on our roads, more fuel used, and more emissions," Davis said.

The American Trucking Associations has asked lawmakers to increase the weight limit by 10%, to 88,000 pounds, saying the current weight limit is unsustainable given the trends.

That extra 8,000 pounds could allow car haulers to carry the same number of EVs as traditional cars: Ford’s new F-150 Lightning all-electric pickup truck weighs about 1,600 pounds more than its gas-powered F-150 counterpart. Similarly, the all-electric Volvo XC40 Recharge SUV weighs about 1,000 pounds more than a gas-powered Volvo XC40.

Hyundai Motor and Kia sold twice as many EVs in the U.S. in the first seven months of this year than all of 2021; sales for market leader Tesla are also outpacing last year.

One industry idea is higher weights for up to 300 miles. Haulers often unload a car by then, putting them under the 80,000 pound limit. California, which just passed a law banning sales of gasoline-powered cars by 2035 has done essentially that, increasing weight limits for trucks carrying goods in and out of its ports to ease supply-chain bottlenecks and clear containers off the docks of Los Angeles and Long Beach. Temporary permits starting in November of last year lift weight restrictions for trucks to 88,000 pounds. The state hasn't researched whether increasing the weight limits helped ease congestion or posed a safety risk.

“The department is also not aware of an collisions or other safety impacts of trucks that are utilizing these permits,” William Arnold, a California transportation department spokesman, said.


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6 Essentials For Your Travel Toolkit

From Hagerty
Don’t let the fall colors scare you into pickling your car for winter just yet. In many parts of the country, this is the best time to be out on the road. Color tours are spooling up all over the northeast, and as the temps drop in the southwest, vintage cars are returning to the roads—but that means more than a few will likely end up on the roadside too. Set yourself up for success and pack a toolkit to at least handle the basics.

Of course, for bigger trips or questionable cars, it makes sense to pack a big kit that could cover just about everything, but that is not right for every person or situation. As the old saying goes, the best time to build a toolkit for your vintage ride was yesterday and the second best time is right now. Even if you aren’t handy or do your own maintenance it is never known who might stop and offer help and without tools that good Samaritan is reduced to good thoughts. Here are six basic essentials for your travel toolkit.

Screwdrivers
Much of any car is assembled with slotted and Phillips-head screws, and even a precursory inspection often requires removing an access panel or cover. Sometimes a noise or vibration does not indicate immediate death for your car or engine, and after inspection you can determine if it is safe to carry on your way despite some part or piece misbehaving. A screwdriver can also act as a stethoscope in a pinch too, allowing you to track down a goofy noise for better diagnostics with less disassembly.

Pliers
Whether you need to deal with a stubborn spring hose clamp or moving a piece that got a little hot, pliers are the tool for the job. At bare minimum you should carry needle nose and slip joint pliers, as these will cover the vast majority of tasks on the roadside. Bonus points if your needle nose pliers have a cutting edge, as this will work for wiring repairs or stripping.

Fluids
We can’t live without water, and your engine can’t live without oil and coolant. They’re the fluids you’re most likely to lose and can still safely refill and continue your drive. Some folks will tell you to carry brake fluid, but if you’re losing brake fluid, that’s not something to top off and continue. Your brakes are a critical safety system that should be repaired properly by a pro, and your Hagerty roadside assistance card is going to be the best tool to use if the brake reservoir runs out while on the road.

Belts
Most vintage engines run simple V-belt setups, but that system has been usurped by the serpentine belt. Relying on a chain parts store to have a variety of V-belts can be a big ask since they likely don’t sell many and thus only stock the most popular sizes. Belts are light and pack down small, so having the proper belts for your car is a no brainer.

Jump pack
Batteries go flat. It just happens sometimes, especially on vintage electrical systems in which small draws can go unnoticed until its too late. A jump pack can provide the juice to get your engine running again or keep it running in a real pinch. Also, most jump packs these days are small and light, while also packing more punch than ever. A bonus is it allows you to charge your phone or other critical accessories if you find yourself stranded and waiting for a tow.

Sockets and wrenches
Yeah, duh. It’s hard to take anything apart or service pieces without the ability to remove nuts and bolts. If you are handy and want to carry the bare minimum, start by looking under the hood and picking just the wrenches and sockets for jobs you are willing to do on the roadside. If in doubt, grab a full set of shallow and deep sockets for both SAE and metric, because you never know what hack might be hiding under the hood where someone previously mixed hardware. This also gives you the chance to be the hero in someone else’s story when you have the socket they need in order to leave the car show.

Bonus: Tool roll
Personally, I hate random things rolling around my car, doubly so if they make noise. A simple tool roll is cheap and allows you to keep all your trip-saving bits and pieces together. Tuck it all under a seat or in back with the spare tire, and rest easy each time you take the car out knowing that you’ve got at least the bare minimum needed to keep your trip on the road rather than the shoulder.

Chesterfield Food Bank Outreach Center Car Show 2022
Chesterfield Food Bank Outreach Center Car Show 2022 October 22 ~ see all the photos at Album - opens to a new window

The Briefs

Tight supply chains and low inventory may be hampering new car sales currently, but there’s a storm on the horizon that may compound the headache that automakers are feeling around the world: interest rates. “It seems likely that much of the pent-up demand from limited supply is quickly disappearing as high interest rates eat away at vehicle buyers’ willingness and ability to purchase,” Charlie Chesbrough, a senior economist with research firm Cox Automotive, told The Wall Street Journal in an interview this week. Cox Automotive lowered its 2022 U.S. sales forecast to 13.7 million new vehicles—which would be a nine percent drop from the previous year. That’s a stark drop from the five years leading up to 2020, where the industry was moving more than 17 million vehicles annually. Profitability remains high thanks to record sales transactions for new vehicles, however; the average price paid for a new car in the U.S. in Q3 hit $45,971, up 10 percent from the previous year and the highest figure on record, according to figures provided to the WSJ by research firm J.D. Power. But interest rates are rising along with those prices—September’s average rate was 5.7%, versus just four percent the year prior.

A comprehensive study in Automotive News lists almost 120 new plug-in vehicles that are expected to arrive by 2026. That’s in addition to the battery-electric vehicles that have already gone on the market this year. Twenty manufacturers, Automotive News says, are expected to markets EVs for the first time in the next five years. They are Subaru (2022), Lexus, Maserati, Ram, Rolls Royce (2023), Acura, Alfa Romeo, Buick, Dodge, Honda, Jeep, Land Rover (2024), Aston Martin, Bentley, Chrysler, Infiniti, Lincoln (2025), and in 2026, Ferrari, Lamborghini and Mitsubishi. Like it or not, almost every automaker who does business in the U.S. will have an electrified offering on the market by 2026. It’s still expected to make up a small-to-moderate impact on overall sales, but the trend that 120 plug-ins represents can’t be denied. Think of it like this: The next president will only be halfway through his or her term when all these electric vehicles will be on sale. — Steven Cole Smith

Porch pirates in a south Austin, Texas, neighborhood are driving residents crazy, KXAN-TV reported. The same people in the same car are hitting front stoops day and night, so a woman identified only as Gabriela came up with a plan. Her husband put a box of used, dirty diapers on the porch, and sure enough, "The same people came back and took the package," she said. Unfortunately, they "came back and smeared those diapers on our front door. Thirty minutes later, they came back with a giant bag of cow manure. They spread that all over our front porch and on our cars in the driveway. I called police, filed a report, and now there's a detective on the case." Britany Walker, who lives near Gabriela, confronted the thieves herself, yelling, "I have a baby," but she said they just laughed at her. "It was a really upsetting moment." Austin police advise against engaging with the suspects.

Beyond Meat COO Doug Ramsey is in the soup after a recent incident at a University of Arkansas vs. Missouri State football game, the Associated Press reported. On Sept. 17, as fans jockeyed their cars out of the parking lot following the game, Ramsey, 53, became enraged when another car made contact with his SUV's wheel. According to police, Ramsey left his car and "punched through the back windshield" of the other car; when the driver jumped out, Ramsey "pulled him in close and started punching his body," then "bit the owner's nose, ripping the flesh on the tip of the nose." Ramsey was also heard threatening to kill the other driver. He was charged with felony battery and making a terroristic threat.

Neighbors of Mercedes New (aka Shawty Dred) in Atlanta have taken to walking in front of their building with umbrellas raised, rain or shine. Why? Because New was allegedly in the habit of strolling around on his high-rise balcony naked and urinating through the bars onto the street below. New, who sports distinctive yellow dreadlocks, was arrested on Sept. 21; neighbors shared video of him in the act with WSB-TV. But New insisted it wasn't him: "I'm famous! I'm on TV, bruh. I didn't do this, man. No. I'm innocent. I promise I didn't do this." He was held at the Fulton County jail.

Spanish authorities recently arrested a man who had apparently admitted to the driving offenses of nearly 100 people for money, in order to keep their record clean. The Civil Guard of the Balearic Islands in Spain announced that it has discovered an Armenian man who was advertising a rather unusual service online. The unnamed man was offering to take the blame for strangers’ driving offenses and help them keep their records clean in order to retain their driving licenses and avoid paying fines. Of course, he changed money for his service – between 75 and 200 euros per point deducted from his own driving license – and business was booming.

A 35-year-old man from India’s Tamil Nadu state recently set a new world record for the longest distance driven in reverse in under 30 minutes – 16 kilometers and 140 meters. During an event that took place last week at Edappadi Bypass in Tamil Nadu, Chandramouli, a passionate motorist from Salem district, managed to set a new world record by driving over 16 kilometers in reverse gear in under 30 minutes. The man, whose passion for driving cars goes back to when he was only 10 years old, practiced hard for the task, knowing that he had to beat the previous record set by 22-year-old Tesson Thomas from Pathanamthitta of Kerala, who had covered 14.2 km driving in reverse for 30 minutes. Chandramouli managed to blow that record out of the water, backing up for 16 kilometers and 140 meters in just 29 minutes and 10 seconds.

At only $2,600, the Robeta electric fire truck may just be the world’s most affordable fire truck. Not to mention you can buy it on Alibaba! Fully decked-out fire trucks usually cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, but municipalities, businesses, or even individuals looking to protect themselves against fire on the cheap now have a truly affordable and environment-friendly option. The Robeta fire truck is a one-seat full-electric vehicle with a range of 31-37 miles (50 – 60 kilometers) and a decent fire-fighting arsenal. It’s certainly not the most impressive fire truck ever made, but for $2,600, you have to keep your expectations in check. This adorable little fire engine is a mere 2.4 meters long, features full LED lighting, and hydraulic brakes that give it a stopping distance of just 3 meters (10 feet). In terms of fire-stopping power, the Robeta doesn’t impress. According to the description on Alibaba, it comes with two small fire extinguishers, a 60-meter-long fire hose, a small hatchet, and an assortment of gear that should help you deal with small fires. Now, I know what you’re thinking, the Robeta doesn’t seem like much of a fire truck, and I completely agree. But that doesn’t make it useless. A real fire truck is not only obscenely expensive in comparison, it’s also generally huge, which makes it difficult to use in tight spaces.

Gas-powered heavy-duty pickups are sticking around
The world may feel like it is rushing towards all-electric vehicles at a frenzied pace, but Detroit’s Big Three aren’t quite ready to ditch the dino-juice entirely. Heavy-duty pickups, which represent a cash-cow segment for Chevy, Ford, and Ram, will still be powered by internal combustion engines for quite some time, according to a report from Automotive News. Ford says it gets more revenue per year from Super Duty sales than many Fortune 500 companies generate in the same time frame. Customer interest isn’t flagging for this specialized tool. “If you’re puling 10,000 pounds, an electric truck is not the right solution. And 95 percent of our customers tow more than 10,000 pounds,” said Ford’s CEO Jim Farley at the reveal event last week for its heavily updated 2023 F-Series Super Duty pickup. Todd Eckert, Ford’s truck group marketing manager, doubled down on Farley’s sentiments in comments to Automotive News, saying that the buyers of heavy-duty trucks—miners, ranchers, construction companies, utility workers, and the like—haven’t shown much interest in EVs. Rather, they’re most interested in what can get the job done the best. Right now, that’s still gasoline- or diesel-powered engines. “Our intent is to play both sides of the business as long as we need to, giving customers choice,” said Scott Bell, Chevy’s vice president, during a media briefing last week. “We see this segment as maybe one of the last to hang onto ICE.” Each of the Big Three either does or will soon offer an all-electric light-duty pickup, but the decision to keep the heavy-duty workhorses running on gas or diesel still comes as no surprise. Towing craters even the best EV’s range. Hauling large loads—like those that would necessitate the beefed-up running gear of an HD pickup—will have similarly adverse effects. This both-sides approach seems like the smartest way forward for all three automakers: You get to keep the money faucet flowing for enterprise-wide investment, and your customers can still buy the types of vehicles they actually want. Imagine that! — Nathan Petroelje
Note - Ford doesn't recommend even a camper shell with the electric F-150.

Wild video shows a Maserati stolen by three teenagers hit 123 mph before it goes airborne and plows through a store sign in a Florida crash that killed one passenger and left the others injured. The teens – none who were licensed to drive – were trying to shake Pinellas County sheriff’s deputies after they stole the unlocked 2016 sports car in St. Petersburg early Sunday, unaware they were being tracked by a police helicopter above. When two police SUVs tried to pull over the stolen car around 3:20 a.m., 15-year-old driver Keondrick Lang put the pedal to the metal – leading a sergeant to order the deputies to “back off,” helicopter footage released Tuesday shows. “And then the driver of the car… he punches it,” Sheriff Bob Gualtieri told reporters, according to a live stream of the conference. “And as he’s punching it and he takes off, the deputies immediately turn off their overheads, the sergeant got on radio and told them to disengage which they did immediately.” The deputies drop to as low as 35 mph but the Maserati accelerates to a blinding speed that the young driver couldn’t handle. Within a few blocks the Maserati fishtails, jumps a curb and is sent flying like a missile into a business sign, the video shows. Debris from the sign and the car spray outward as the car flips, eventually coming to rest upside down with its frame bent down the middle, according to the video.

Five years after debuting his electric semi truck, Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors, said he will begin delivery of 15 trucks to Pepsi by the end of the year, starting December 1. Pepsi, says Automotive News, has a contract for 100 of the trucks. The trucks supposedly have 500 miles of range, and Musk has said in the past that he has deposits from Walmart and Anheuser-Busch for the trucks. AN speculates that Musk’s interest in the trucks was spurred by the Senate passing the Inflation Reduction Act, which made heavy-duty electric trucks eligible for as much as $40,000 federal tax credits. On the website for the truck, Musk says it has “Badass Performance,” generated by three electric motors, and can “accelerate from 0-60 mph in 20 seconds, fully loaded, and maintain highway-level speeds even up steep grades.” Tesla’s “semi chargers” will recover up to 70 percent of the range in 30 minutes, and “operators can see estimated fuel savings of up to $200,000 within their first three years of ownership.” Pepsi seems like a good first rollout customer, since its runs are relatively short compared to most over-the-road truckers’. —Steven Cole Smith

Toyota’s BZ4X production electric vehicle will resume sales after the company resolved an issue in which its wheels could loosen and potentially fall off. The recall covers 258 units of Toyota’s EV sold in the U.S., but the 403 affected examples of its Subaru sistership have reportedly not been “sold to dealers or retail purchasers.” The older NHTSA report mentions that the “investigation is ongoing,” but according to Automotive News, Toyota chief technology officer Masahiko Maeda says it missed the issue “because we didn’t conduct the assessments based on a premise that the quality of wheels would be so off.”

In South Dakota you can get a driver's license at age 14.

Rivian Automotive said on Friday it will recall nearly all of its vehicles due to a possible issue of a loose fastener that could make a driver lose steering control. California-based Rivian is recalling about 13,000 vehicles after it discovered that a fastener connecting the front upper control arm and steering knuckle may not have been “sufficiently torqued” in some vehicles, a company spokesperson said in a statement. The electric vehicle maker has so far produced a total of 14,317 vehicles this year.

Maryland firefighter Megan Warfield is wired to help others. So when the pregnant 30-year-old was a passenger involved in a multi-car collision earlier this month, she brushed aside her labor contractions to save a person trapped in their vehicle. Shortly after paramedics arrived to take over, Warfield, who had been on desk duty during her pregnancy, decided she should go to the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore to get herself checked out. The accident had induced labor and, unbeknownst to Warfield, had knocked her unborn baby into a traverse — or sideways — position. “I don’t know how I did what I did because the cramping was so bad,” Warfield said, when asked how she was able to get down on the ground and help. “I must’ve just been running on adrenaline.” Warfield and her boyfriend, Joshua Daugherty, welcomed a healthy little girl named Charlotte on Oct. 4, less than 24 hours after the crash. Charlotte joined siblings Ellie, 6, and Jameson, 5. Fun fact: Daugherty, a paramedic, was one of the first responders on the scene.

A Georgia mayor saved a mother and her three young children after their car stalled on a set of railroad tracks as a train was approaching. All went down on Saturday morning shortly before 3:45 a.m. when Mayor Eddie Daniels, who was on his way to work in the small town about two hours south of Atlanta, saw the vehicle on the tracks. Leaping out to help, he pulled Rodreka Morgan, 26, from the black SUV. He then realized there were children in the backseat. "I couldn't let those babies sit there and get slaughtered by a train," Daniels told WALB-TV. A 6-year-old, 3-year-old and 1-year-old were inside the car. The mayor was able to save all of them, just in time.

According to Bloomberg, one province in China has more EV battery chargers than all of the U.S. does. Guangdong, a coastal province that borders Hong Kong, has 345,126 public chargers and 19,116 charging stations as of the end of September, according to the China Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure Promotion Alliance. That’s around three times as many public chargers as exist in the U.S., according to BloombergNEF data. In just the past 12 months, China added 592,000 public chargers.

According to Reuters, Tesla is under criminal investigation over claims that the company’s electric vehicles can drive themselves, three people familiar with the matter said. The U.S. Department of Justice launched the previously undisclosed case last year after more than a dozen crashes, some fatal, involving Tesla’s Autopilot driver assistance system, which was activated during the accidents, the sources told Reuters. While the company has “explicitly warned drivers that they must keep their hands on the wheel and maintain control of their vehicles while using Autopilot,” Reuters says, Tesla’s marketing claims may come back to haunt them, such as a video posted on the company website that says: “The person in the driver’s seat is only there for legal reasons. He is not doing anything. The car is driving itself.” If this is true, and the story is admittedly thin on details and named sources, it could negatively affect the self-driving research and development going on at multiple companies. Just this week investors Ford and Volkswagen shuttered self-driving startup Argo, taking billions in losses. This Tesla story merits watching. —Steven Cole Smith

Old School Hot Rodders of Virginia Fall Cruise In & Swap Meet
Old School Hot Rodders of Virginia Fall Cruise In & Swap Meet October 29 ~ see all the photos at Album - opens to a new window

Repair Mistakes & Blunders

From Rock Auto
I decided to change my differential fluid in my 2006 Pontiac GTO. After draining the fluid from the differential drain plug, and letting it drip for a few minutes, I opened the fill plug and began to refill it. Since space to tilt the 70w-140 bottle was limited, I decided to add a short length of rubber tubing to the bottle spout, in an effort to change the angle and get the last drops from the first quart (hoping I would not have to open the second bottle I purchased).

Well, you can imagine my shock when the tube slid off the end of the spout and went into the differential! At first, a little length was still visible, so I attempted to grab it with a needle nose pliers. Being coated with fluid, it slipped out of my grasp and disappeared into the housing!

Long story short, an hour later, after supporting the rear end, draining the fluid a second time, removing the cover, removing my "smart idea" tube, scraping both surfaces clean, adding sealant to the cover and reinstalling, and finally, refilling the differential WITHOUT an extension on the bottle, I was back in business. LESSON LEARNED!

Steve in Colorado

Falcon

You Will Soon Be Able To Jaywalk Ticket-free In California

From CNN
Californians will soon be able to cross the street outside of a formal intersection without being ticketed – as long as it’s safe to do so.

Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the Freedom to Walk Act into law on Friday, according to a news release from Assemblymember Phil Ting, who wrote the bill.

The law stipulates that pedestrians can only be ticketed for jaywalking – or crossing outside of an intersection – if there is “immediate danger of a collision,” says the release.

The new law will take effect on January 1.

In the release, Ting seemed to reference racist policing and the unfair targeting of Black pedestrians for jaywalking arrests.

“It should not be a criminal offense to safely cross the street. When expensive tickets and unnecessary confrontations with police impact only certain communities, it’s time to reconsider how we use our law enforcement resources and whether our jaywalking laws really do protect pedestrians,” said Ting.

“Plus, we should be encouraging people to get out of their cars and walk for health and environmental reasons.”

According to the release, jaywalking is “arbitrarily enforced” in California, and disproportionately affects “people of color and lower-income individuals who cannot afford tickets that can often total hundreds of dollars.”

In 2020, protests erupted when an Orange County sheriff’s deputy shot and killed Kurt Reinhold, a homeless Black man, after stopping him for allegedly jaywalking. Prosecutors eventually declined to bring charges against the deputy who shot Reinhold.

From Wikipedia
Jaywalking is the act of pedestrians walking in or crossing a roadway that has traffic, other than at a designated crossing point, or otherwise, in disregard of traffic rules. The term originated in the United States as a derivation of the phrase jay-drivers (the word jay meaning 'a greenhorn, or rube'), people who drove horse-drawn carriages and automobiles on the wrong side of the road, before taking its current meaning. Jaywalking was coined as the automobile arrived in the street in the context of the conflict between pedestrian and automobiles (also then known as horseless carriages), more specifically the nascent automobile industry.

Jaywalking laws vary widely by jurisdiction. In many countries such as the United Kingdom, the word is not generally used and, with the exception of certain high-speed roads, there are no laws limiting how pedestrians can use public highways. This has caused confusion among British people visiting countries with such laws.

Legal texts in other countries use different concepts, such as Rules applicable to pedestrians in the Vienna Convention on Road Traffic. One member of this convention, the United Kingdom, does not have jaywalking laws; its Highway Code relies on the pedestrians making their own judgment on whether it is safe to cross based on the Green Cross Code.

Pickup

Electric Vehicles Catching Fire In Florida After Hurricane Ian

From New York Post
Electric car owners have seen their rides catch fire after becoming waterlogged during Hurricane Ian and it can take hours to put the conflagrations out, a top Florida official warned Thursday.

As the Sunshine State recovers from the punishing Category 4 storm that made landfall last week, first responders have faced further destruction from electric vehicles that were submerged in water from the extensive flooding and later caught fire, Jimmy Patronis, Florida’s chief financial officer and state fire marshal, said on Twitter.

“There’s a ton of EVs disabled from Ian,” he tweeted. “As those batteries corrode, fires start.

“That’s a new challenge that our firefighters haven’t faced before. At least on this kind of scale.”

In his tweet, Patronis posted a video of firefighters with the North Collier Fire Rescue District in Naples putting an electric vehicle fire out as a bystander is heard saying it’s taken thousands of gallons of water to extinguish it.

“It takes special training and understanding of EVs to ensure these fires are put out quickly and safely,” Patronis tweeted.

Additional footage of the same vehicle fire posted on Facebook by the North Collier Fire Rescue District shows firefighters dousing the car’s top and underbelly with water to eliminate any sparks.

The rescue district said firefighters received the call while Patronis and state Rep. Bob Rommel visited the area. The two state officials were brought to the incident so they could see the difficulty of putting EV fires out and said it took firefighters hours to ensure the blaze was extinguished.

“This is an issue many fire departments across [southwest] Florida are experiencing right now,” the district wrote on Facebook. “These vehicles have been submerged in salt water; they have extensive damage and can potentially be serious fire hazards.”

Florida is only behind California for most electric vehicles on the road at more than 95,000 registered in the state, according to the US Department of Energy.

Rebuilding from Hurricane Ian is expected to cost billions of dollars, officials have said.


Recycle that tire into a computer box

Alef Debuts Model A Flying Car and Hopes to Sell It Starting in 2025

A Silicon Valley startup hopes to revolutionize transportation, starting with commuters willing to pay $300,000 to escape traffic. From: CNET
Alef Aeronautics unveiled a prototype of its first Alef flying car on Wednesday, a $300,000 machine the company hopes will let well-heeled commuters both drive on roads and soar over traffic starting in 2025.

The Alef Model A is designed to have a driving range of 200 miles and a flying range of 110 miles. The startup also started taking orders at its website for the first models.

The company showed a single passenger prototype of the Alef Model A and two flying prototypes called Alef Zero at a press conference at Draper University in San Mateo, California, home to one of the company's two Silicon Valley design centers. The Model A will be fitted with the eight propellers that should let it first fly in the coming months, Chief Executive Jim Dukhovny said in an interview, and ultimately could lead to a $35,000 Model Z in 2030 that requires only a drone license to operate.

The company is among a host of aeronautics firms hoping to revolutionize transportation with electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft and autonomous piloting technology. But the engineering challenges are big, and the regulatory challenges are perhaps even bigger as citizens, the Federal Aviation Administration and local governments wrestle with the idea of a sky populated by hundreds of personal aircraft and maybe delivery drones too.

The Alef flying car will revolutionize transportation, Dukhovny said, pointing to flying cars in the Back to the Future and Bladerunner movies and the Jetsons cartoon. A video running during the event showed an animation with dozens of flying cars streaming in aerial lanes above San Francisco.

"Almost every vision of the future came up with exactly the same thing: a flying car," Dukhovny said. "We can actually solve all traffic in the world for the next hundred years."

A hybrid aircraft design
As designed, the battery powered machine Alef will take off vertically using eight propellers housed inside a body about the size of a large sedan. One or two passengers sit inside a bubble, but most of the interior of the vehicle's mesh-topped body is just air.

That vertical takeoff technology is well established by the drone industry, and the company has tested it with its two Alef Zero prototypes.

What comes next, so far tested only with smaller-scale prototypes, is more unusual but crucial to the aircraft's design. The body pivots 90 degrees around its long axis to shift from upward flight to forward flight. As it pivots, one side of the car's body becomes the top wing, and the other side becomes the bottom wing.

If you imagine your hand as the Alef Model A, it looks like your hand held flat, fingers pointing forward as you drive. But then as it flies, you twist your hand so your thumb is on top. Now your flat palm faces into the wind as it flies.

The bubble that was facing forward for a drive mode pivots along two axes during this transition so it can face forward for the flight, too.

It's an ambitious project. Hybrid designs are flexible, but they're not as good as special-purpose designs. A flying car will be worse at driving than a car and worse at flying than an aircraft that needn't worry about steering, braking and fender benders on the freeway.

But Alef is ambitious, with two teams working on parallel designs to try to speed development, one in San Mateo and one farther south in Silicon Valley at the company's Santa Clara headquarters.

And its hopes to start with a more modest ability than flying dozens of miles: short hops that could briefly lift the aircraft over problem areas on roads.

200-pound payload to start
The first Alef Model A should have a payload of about 200 pounds, including the passenger and baggage, said engineering director and co-founder Constantine Kisly. Most commuter vehicles only carry one passenger, he pointed out, but he's also working on a two-person design that doubles that payload.

The company also wants to build an Alef design powered by hydrogen fuel cells, said Oleg Petrov, another engineer and company co-founder. That should have a much longer range of 400 miles, he said.

The company hasn't yet tested the pivot from upward takeoff to horizontal flight with a human passenger, Petrov said. That's considerably more complicated and risky and will take place after the startup raises another round of funding. Tim Draper, a high-profile Silicon Valley venture capitalist who also funded EV maker Tesla, is an early Alef investor.

The Alef Z ultimately could have a range of 200 miles in flight and 400 miles on the road with models that can carry four to six passengers, the company hopes.

Falcon

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