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Coming up on “Axios on HBO”: We dig into the GOP’s looming Texas-sized problem with Reps. Will Hurd and Dan Crenshaw.
Smart brevity count: 1,474 words, < 6 minutes.
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
Automakers are choosing sides in the increasingly heated political debate over vehicle emissions and fuel economy standards in an attempt to protect the investments they've made in a clean energy economy.
The big picture: President Trump is at war with California on multiple fronts, and carmakers are caught in the crossfire.
Driving the news: GM, Toyota, Fiat Chrysler, Hyundai, Nissan and others this week announced they are joining the Trump administration's side in litigation to block California from setting its own emissions rules.
Between the lines: Automakers are reluctant to talk openly about the politically sensitive topic. Privately, though, nearly a dozen companies on both sides claim their approach is the quickest way to settle the regulatory uncertainty that is hampering future product development.
Yes, but: The issues are complex, and each company's position is not as black-and-white as it seems.
The latest: Where they line up depends mostly on their sunk investments in future powertrains and how they think consumer demand will evolve. To date, most consumers don't want hybrids or EVs; they want trucks and SUVs.
What to watch: The Trump administration may be willing to bend.
PSA Groupe CEO Carlos Tavares. Photo: Julien de Rosa/IP3/Getty Images
Carlos Tavares, a weekend racer with a gutsy instinct on and off the track, will soon be in charge of the world's fourth-largest automaker.
Why it matters: Since last year's death of Fiat Chrysler's Sergio Marchionne and arrest of Renault-Nissan's Carlos Ghosn, the global auto industry has been looking for its next Lee Iacocca or Bob Lutz. Here comes Tavares.
Driving the news: The Portugal-born boss of France's PSA Groupe is slated to become CEO in a 50-50 merger between the Peugeot parent and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.
As I reported in Forbes in 2017, Tavares is a dynamic, thoughtful leader who keeps his eyes on what's ahead.
What to watch: The industry is taking note of Tavares' ambition. "Number 4 is not his goal," one exec told me. "If I’m Toyota, GM or VW, I’m shaking in my boots."
Waymo is testing more cars with riders only. Photo courtesy of Waymo
Amid mass confusion over automated driving technologies, Waymo CEO John Krafcik is proposing more precise terminology to describe self-driving cars, saying: Let's call them "rider-only" vehicles.
Why it matters: Driver-assistance systems have too many confusing names, a AAA study found. Tesla has further muddied the waters by using terms like "full self-driving" to describe cars that still require human supervision.
What's happening: Krafcik told a group of reporters this week that "we've failed as an industry to define fully driverless cars."
Context: Krafcik's comments came days after Tesla CEO Elon Musk befogged investors' questions about what he means by a "full self-driving" system that is "feature-complete."
What to watch: Waymo is continuing to ramp up its “rider-only” service for several hundred customers enrolled in its early rider pilot program in suburban Phoenix.
Cruise's self-driving test vehicle in San Francisco. Photo courtesy of Cruise
My colleague Kim Hart interviewed Cruise CEO Dan Ammann on stage this week at a CityLab event but couldn't get him to commit when autonomous vehicles will arrive.
Why it matters: Cruise said earlier this year it was delaying commercial deployment of cars past its 2019 target for more testing.
The bottom line: Despite the early hype, Ammann remains optimistic about AVs.
Sign up for Kim's Cities newsletter here.
Backup: LAX apologizes for "unacceptable" long waits for Uber and Lyft pickups (Laura J. Nelson — Los Angeles Times)
Hearings: Boeing’s CEO says its culture will fix its problems. Experts say it may be to blame (Dan Catchpole — Fortune)
Tea leaves: GM appoints former AV, EV head to lead product development (Kalea Hall — Detroit News)
2020 Toyota Supra. Photo courtesy of Toyota
What a fun weekend I had zipping around southeastern Michigan in the highly anticipated 2020 Toyota Supra.
The big picture: This is the fifth generation of the Supra but the first sold in the U.S. since 1998. Enthusiasts pleaded for Toyota to bring it back and now it has finally arrived.
Yes, but: There's been a lot of whining among Supra loyalists that the reborn 2020 model wouldn't be any good because it shares its underpinnings with BMW's Z4 convertible and it would only have an automatic transmission.
My thought bubble: Get over it; the new Supra is a true sports car. Yes, it's got a lot of BMW inside, but that's not a bad thing.
Details: It's equipped with a BMW turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-six-cylinder engine that produces 335 horsepower and 365 foot-pounds of torque.
Pricing: The base Supra 3.0 starts at $50,920; my Supra 3.0 Premium had a sticker price of $56,140.