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Today's Smart Brevity count: 1,403 words, 5 minutes.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
While President Trump is moving to ease Obama-era tailpipe emissions rules, Democrats running to unseat him want to accelerate the shift to electric cars, trucks and buses and take gasoline-powered vehicles off the market entirely, Axios' Alayna Treene and I write.
Why it matters: The 2020 presidential race could produce two vastly different outcomes for the auto industry, and that regulatory whiplash is hampering carmakers' long-term investment decisions.
Here's a rundown of some of the policies Democratic candidates would use to push the country toward cleaner cars.
Emissions: Most of the candidates say they'll push for a "zero emissions economy" by 2050 or earlier, and a few have deadlines for electric vehicle adoption.
Consumer incentives: Many say they would extend tax breaks and offer trade-in discount programs to encourage people to replace their gasoline-powered car with a zero-emission vehicle.
Charging infrastructure: Most candidates agree more charging stations are needed to support the shift to electric vehicles.
Manufacturing incentives: The Democrats link vehicle electrification to U.S. manufacturing and jobs.
But, but, but: Major pieces of the Democrats' plans, such as expanded EV tax credits and major new spending on charging infrastructure, would require congressional action.
The impact: "When you have these kinds of variables that are vital to [automakers'] product plans, they would at least like to know what direction to head in," says IHS Markit analyst Devin Lindsay.
The bottom line: American roads could look dramatically different in the future, depending on who's in the White House.
Uber self-driving car. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Uber disclosed that it will likely have to pay Waymo a license fee or make changes to its autonomous driving systems that could delay its launch of self-driving technology, Axios' Kia Kokalitcheva reports.
Why it matters: The potentially costly setback, first reported by Reuters, was amplified by a National Transportation Safety Board report this week that found software flaws in an Uber self-driving test vehicle that struck and killed an Arizona woman last year.
Background: Uber agreed to allow an independent expert to review its self-driving software as part of a 2018 legal settlement with Waymo.
The impact: Uber declined to comment beyond the regulatory filing, which said it might have to make changes to its technology that "could require substantial time and resources to implement, and could limit or delay our production of autonomous vehicle technologies."
Meanwhile, the NTSB report raises questions about whether Uber's self-driving SUV should have been allowed on public roads for test purposes, AP reports.
What to watch: The NTSB will hold a public board meeting on Nov. 19 to determine the cause of the Tempe, Ariz., crash and issue recommendations.
A Ghost aftermarket camera is mounted inside the car's b-pillar. Photo courtesy of Ghost
A new autonomous vehicle company, Ghost Locomotion, has $63.7 million in investment from big-name backers and a plan to retrofit your car so it can drive itself.
The big picture: AV research is data-intensive and taking longer than expected, but Ghost says its approach is faster and simpler.
How it works: The kit includes 8 cameras — placed in front, in back and on each side of the vehicle — and a computer stored in the trunk that's connected to the car's gas, brake and steering controls.
What they're saying: Ghost claim drivers can "fully turn their attention elsewhere and leave control of their vehicle to a computer" — something no other AV company claims.
My thought bubble: Promising to deliver glitch-free software is absurd. Even an aerospace giant like Boeing is not exempt, as the recent crashes of two 737 MAX jets have shown.
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
Airborne: Inside the high-stakes race to build the world’s first flying taxi (Adam Satariano — The New York Times)
Powerful: The key to electric cars is batteries. One Chinese firm dominates the industry (Trefor Moss — The Wall Street Journal)
Forfeit: Boeing CEO to give part of bonus to 737 MAX victims' compensation funds (Courtenay Brown — Axios)
Subaru Ascent Limited. Photo: Subaru
This week I'm driving the 2020 Subaru Ascent, a family hauler that is the largest vehicle in Subaru's lineup.
The big picture: The three-row Ascent is a solid alternative in the crowded mid-size SUV category, which includes models like the Ford Explorer, Honda Pilot and Toyota Highlander and newcomers like the Kia Telluride and Hyundai Palisade (which I'll drive next week).
Details: First introduced in 2019, the Ascent is priced between $32,000 and $45,000, depending on which of four trim levels you choose.
Safety features: Subaru's EyeSight driver assist technology is standard and includes automatic braking, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, and a head-up windshield display.
The bottom line: Subaru owners are a loyal bunch, and now they have a 3-row SUV to grow into.
Editor's note: The top story was corrected to fix the spelling of Andrew Yang's last name and story no. 3 was corrected to show two Boeing 737 MAX jets had crashed (not 787).