Half of U.S. vehicles would be electrified by 2030 under proposed House bill

– Millions of electric-powered vehicles that would slash America’s dependence on foreign oil and cut carbon emissions would be put on the road under legislation approved by a Senate committee on Wednesday.

The legislation, passed 19-4 in favor, was one of several bills cleared by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee that might be folded into a broader energy and climate bill Democrats are struggling to bring to the Senate floor.

The bill approved by the committee would pour nearly $3.9 billion over 10 years into selected communities to build infrastructure to charge electric cars, conduct research and provide incentives for consumers to buy plug-in vehicles.

The goal is to put the United States on a path to electrify half the country’s cars and trucks by 2030, which would cut U.S. demand for oil by about one-third.

“Passing this legislation will strengthen our national security and improve the air we breathe, while relying on our abundant and diverse electricity supply to fuel our cars,” said Senator Byron Dorgan, the bill’s chief sponsor.

A new bill that addresses climate change and renewable energy is a key priority for the Obama administration but time is running short on the congressional calendar with a scheduled August recess and congressional elections looming in November.

Senator Jeff Bingaman, who chairs the energy panel, said he was not sure if Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid would unveil his encompassing energy and climate legislation next week. The bill would be in trouble if the Senate does not pass it before the August break, according to Bingaman.

“It will be difficult to get a final bill to the president for signature,” Bingaman told reporters. “The earlier that the full Senate would act the better position we’ll be to actually get a bill to the president.”

Congress is scheduled to work through the first or second of week of August, and then recess until after Labor Day in early September.

Reid said on Tuesday he was still grappling for consensus among Democrats to forge a new climate and energy bill.

Infiniti means . . . . what?

Once again, a struggling brand seeks to refine its obscure image
Once again, a struggling brand seeks to refine its obscure image

Ever since Infiniti was launched with mystifying advertising images of rocks and trees 21 years ago, Nissan Motor Co.’s luxury brand has been hard to pin down.

Vehicles such as its G37, the 2011 M sedan and the QX56 SUV turn heads and win praise in buff books. But while luxury competitors such as BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Audi and Lexus have soared in consumer popularity over the past decade, Infiniti has struggled to keep up.

Infiniti’s sales peaked at 131,401 in 2005. Last year they totaled 81,089.

The problem? Fuzzy brand awareness caused by more than a decade of sharing vehicles and marketing resources with its larger sibling brand, Nissan.

Ben Poore is on fire to fix this. As vice president of Nissan North America’s Infiniti Business Unit for the past year and a half, Poore’s mission has been to sharpen the brand’s image. His most visible initiative is a new campaign, “The Way of Infiniti,” which is scheduled to run for five years.

“Our brand has always been about performance luxury,” Poore says. “We’ve always been there, but we now have a very solid and interesting way of defining ourselves.”

Dealers add that Nissan needs to give Infiniti a broader lineup to match luxury rivals. Infiniti is expected to make several new product announcements next month — likely including a performance subbrand — to bolster its luxury credibility.

Greek crisis set to spread to rest of Europe

European car markets are heading for further pain as EU countries implement measures to tackle their financial deficits, a market researcher warns.
New-car sales will be hard hit this year and in 2011 as governments follow Greece and launch “swift and sustained” attacks on national fiscal deficits that will result in public sector job losses, wage freezes and cuts, cancellation of government-funded private sector contracts and tax increases, says J.D. Power Automotive Forecasting.
“Consumer confidence, which held up relatively well during the earlier phase of the Greek crisis, is now on a downward trajectory once more with negative implications for car sales,” the forecaster said in a commentary on a 6.4 percent fall in new-car sales in western Europe in June.
In Greece, the government’s tough cost-saving measures led to a nearly 40 percent decline in car sales last month. The effect of austerity measures in other European countries may not be as immediate as in Greece, but it will come — and will be felt most severely in 2011, according to the forecaster.
“The risks of a widespread fiscal consolidation are serious, increasing the probability of a double-dip recession in some countries,” J.D. Power says.
And in a dismaying prediction for automakers hoping the European market would finally return to sustained growth next year, the forecaster concludes that western Europe’s car market in 2011 is unlikely to be above its current prediction of 12.86 million units for 2010.

Mercedes C220 squeaking steering wheel

The steering wheel in my C220 squeaks when turned. This is coming directly from the steering column. Would a little WD-40 or some other spray product be safe to apply to the steering wheel or is there a possibility of shorting out the electrical in the column?

1) It’s best to remove the steering wheel and expose the bearing. If it’s a sealed bearing obviously oil isn’t the answer replacement is or live with it. In lite of WD40 I’d use a Lithium Spray Grease.
2) Turn the radio up abit until you can no longer hear the squeak. Or……make a listening stick or tube, stethoscope, and while someone is turning the wheel find the spot that squeaks. Then apply some white lithium grease to the area. Lithium grease does not change viscosity when the temperature changes. I’ve never owned or worked on a Mercedes, but there should be a u-bolt type clamp with a bushing or bearing in it that may be the culprit. This is what holds the steering column to the bottom of the dash.
3) WD-40 wont hurt your wiring a bit, so if you can get to your squeak in the steering column with that, go for it.