Electric Aston Martin Rapide, CARB reaffirms emissions standards, E15 battle: Today's Car News

2016 Aston Martin Rapide SToday, the Aston Martin Rapide is expected to go all-electric in 2018, the California Air Resources Board reaffirms 2025 emissions standards, and state and federal bills look to ban E15 ethanol fuel. All this and more on Green Car Reports. Catch up on last week’s major news with our Week in Reverse feature. This all-electric personal watercraft…

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Tesla Providing ‘Perfect Company Car’ Perks On New Website

Tesla launched a new corporate sales website page, geared toward providing the “Perfect Company Car.”

Like other Tesla website pages, users can review a series of benefits gained by going with a Tesla vehicle. Saving on fuel costs, and having plenty of space for passengers and storage are among them.

Tesla Model S owners are quoted for cost savings, including saving $1,500 a year on gasoline expense when also factoring in the cost of charging. Another owner made a statement from the total cost of ownership perspective, which is a big deal with fleet managers.

“Even though Tesla is about 40 percent more expensive in terms of upfront price, I will be making a great saving over the three years. It’s actually costing me less overall,” said Min Bhogaita, a Model S owner.

Incentives are broken out by those applying to drivers and to corporations. Most all of them apply to every Tesla owner, including the $7,500 federal tax credit, state incentive programs, preferential parking spots, carpool lane access in a few states, and lower maintenance intervals and costs.

Corporate clients will have their $2,500 deposit exempted. Reduced company car taxation is also mentioned. Vehicle safety, a top consideration for fleet managers, is mentioned through the NHTSA 5-star rating, which Tesla achieved on the Model S.

Those filling out the contact form are asked to identify themselves as a fleet manager or company car driver.

Last year, Tesla hired a fleet sales veteran when naming Michael Stafford as its North American corporate sales manager. Prior to Tesla, he’d spent years with Audi of America as a senior commercial accounts manager; and he’d worked for fleet management companies before Audi.

While it’s not listed on the Tesla corporate sales website, the electric automaker is likely offering corporate clientele fleet discounts. Traditional automakers, especially the Detroit 3, are known for offering incentive discounts and other perks to clients who buy in volume. That can include large corporations, government fleets, fleet management and leasing companies, and car rental companies.

Serving small business fleets has also grown in importance to automakers and fleet service providers in the past few years; that includes small businesses that have a few company cars and individuals who tap into tax incentives.

SEE ALSO:  Tesla Announces Model S Business Lease Program

Tesla’s business leasing program, launched in 2014, was targeted at that niche. That simple and straightforward leasing program was targeted at small- and medium-sized businesses who can deduct the lease payments from their business taxes.

Tapping into Tesla’s maintenance plan is another selling point on the new site. Companies can choose a three-year or four-year maintenance plan which includes inspections. The maintenance list is much shorter than a car powered by an internal combustion engine. It’s still a car and will eventually need the basics covered under the Tesla plan, such as tire rotation, wiper blade replacement, and wheel alignment check and adjustment, if needed.

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Auto Analysts See Fuel Efficiency Moving Forward Regardless of White House Decision

Even if the Trump administration rolls back the Obama administration’s 2022-25 fuel economy targets, they may eventually fall in place through other market forces, auto analysts say.

Consumer demand for fuel-efficient vehicles and aggressive emissions targets overseas may be more important than decisions by President Donald Trump. The president has directed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration toward potentially softening rules in favor of automakers’ pleas. They would be gaining more time to reach that level of efficiency, analysts say.

The Europe and China have similar emissions regulations coming up soon. California and nine other states following its zero emission vehicle mandates will have a similar effect.

If Europe and China continue tightening their rules, “the U.S. might become an outlier,” American Axle President Mike Simonte said to Reuters on Thursday.

Automakers see demand, but don’t want to face the pressure and cost of hitting aggressive federal targets well ahead of market demand.

“We are not seeking a rollback in any way. We just want to have a conversation around the levels we want to achieve,” said Bob Shanks, Ford Motor Co.’s chief financial officer.

California and nine other ZEV states, including Oregon and eight in the northeast, are expected to stay with their targets. These states make for nearly 30 percent of U.S. auto sales.

Automakers worry that it will create a “two-tiered” set of regulations to have national fuel economy rules clashing with California’s standards.

The regulatory divide could create a “two-tiered environment with two sets of regulations,” said Mark Wakefield, managing director of AlixPartners’ automotive practice. This “could drive costs higher if automakers have to build two versions of the same vehicle to meet the two different standards.”

The U.S. pulling back on emissions targets could also make it tough for them to export vehicles to countries that do have them in place, according to Kristin Dziczek, director of the Center for Automotive Research’s labor and industry group.

“I don’t think we’re going to see a rollback,” she said. “At most, I think we may see a slowing of the timetable” for tougher fuel economy rules to be adopted in new vehicles sold in the U.S.

If China keeps moving forward on electric vehicle sales, it could impact automakers global planning and financial backing.

SEE ALSO:  Study: Automakers’ Cost to Meet US MPG Targets Is 40 Percent Less Than Originally Estimated

AlixPartners’ Wakefield said it could lead to “some movement of investment from the U.S. to China, especially as the latter market continues to grow.”

Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas thinks that government regulations would come in third as a driver for fuel-efficient vehicle, behind consumer preferences and the direction of the impact of technology.

UAW President Dennis Williams would like to see automakers avoid focusing heavily on pickups, SUVs, and crossover. Consumers do value fuel-efficient vehicles, he said.

“The automakers shouldn’t make the mistake of sliding backward,” Williams said. “We’re here to protect our (union) members, but we understand that in doing so we also have to look at the future.”

Automotive News

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