Good morning! It’s Tuesday, November 7, 2023, and this is The Morning Shift, your daily roundup of the top automotive headlines from around the world, in one place. Here are the important stories you need to know.
1st Gear: Europe Expected To “Water Down” Emission Rules
A lot of people like to think that Europe is doing the switch away from fossil fuels the right way, with EV adoption on the rise and sustainable energy sources popping up across the continent. But now, the continent appears to be taking a step back as it lets those pesky automakers come in and ruin its strict new emissions regulations.
In a desperate attempt to avoid paying up to make cleaner cars, companies like BMW even organized secret meetings with representatives for European politicians to argue that “weak approval tests” should be kept in force.
However, some argue that the implementation of strict engine rules would have taken engineers off the switch to EVs across the block. Instead of working on zero-emission alternatives, automakers would have to divert resources to cleaner gas-powered engines, which would then become obsolete when sales of new ICE cars are outlawed in 2035.
2nd Gear: Self-Driving Carmakers Are At Fault For Crashes, Says UK
While the European Union argues over emissions rules, the UK has been busy working on a framework that would govern self-driving cars of the future. As part of the new laws, automakers that sell autonomous cars will be held responsible for any crashes that happen while the vehicle is self-driving.
The UK government’s Automated Vehicle Bill will place all responsibility for a crash with the maker of self-driving cars instead of the user, reports Reuters. The ruling is meant to promote the safe development of tech such as this, rather than allowing automakers to simply send their prototype software out in the world for anyone to use. Reuters reports:
The government said the bill would protect users and promote safety in the AV industry.
“While the vehicle is driving itself, a company rather than an individual will be responsible for the way it drives,” the government said.
“The Bill gives people immunity from prosecution when a self-driving vehicle is driving itself, given it does not make sense to then hold the person sat behind the wheel responsible.”
The industry argued that strict regulations like this are essential if end users are ever going to trust their self-driving tech. As part of the new rules, a new process to investigate crashes involving autonomous cars will be established. New classifications for what counts as a self-driving car will also be defined.
If any car that meets these new definitions is caught up in a crash, the company that made it will be held legally responsible for the collision. The driver will be found at fault for any crashes in a car that doesn’t meet the self-driving definition.
3rd Gear: BYD Eyes Its First factory in Europe
In the final bit of Europe news for you today, Chinese electric car maker BYD has found a site for its first factory in Europe. The soon-to-be world’s largest EV manufacturer reportedly found a nice little plot of land in Hungary on which it plans to build a new factory that will fuel its expansion into Europe.
BYD, which currently markets its EVs in places like China, Europe, Japan and Singapore, has been eyeing expansion in Europe since the start of this year. Now, the company appears to have settled on Hungary as the location for its first factory outside China, according to Automotive News. The site reports:
BYD has made the decision, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung reported, citing unnamed sources close to the automaker.
A government website in Shenzhen, where BYD is headquartered, posted an article last month saying that Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban met BYD Chairman and President Wang Chuanfu on a visit to the company.
An official announcement from BYD about the location of its new plant is expected before the end of the year. If it does go ahead and build a plant in Hungary, it will join legacy automakers like Mercedes-Benz and Audi, which already have plants operational in the country. BMW has a new Hungarian factory in the works, which is expected to go online in 2025.
4th Gear: Carlos Ghosn Is Being Evicted
Ex-Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn is facing eviction from the home in Lebanon that he’s been held up in since fleeing house arrest in Japan. The former Nissan and Renault exec fled Japan after being placed under house arrest for allegedly misusing corporate funds.
Now, Ghosn is facing eviction as it turns out he doesn’t actually own the house that he’s been living in since 2019, reports Drive. Instead, the property is in the possession of an investment company that claims he can’t live there anymore as he’s no longer employed by Nissan. According to Drive:
According to court documents seen by the publication, Mr Ghosn and his lawyers have argued he has a right to live in the house as it was purchased for him to use by Nissan, claiming there is a contractual relationship linking the Lebanese national and Japanese car-maker.
However, Phoinos Investment has argued he is no longer entitled to use the house because he is no longer employed by Nissan, who fired the then-chairman in April 2019 – six months after being arrested by Japanese authorities.
A court in Lebanon has found in favor of Phoinos Investment and gave Ghosn a month to vacate the property. The ex-Nissan boss has appealed the decision.
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