FirstUp: Daily News

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Today’s FirstUp

September 18, 2014 

CFPB Finds Discrimination in Auto Lending at Banks, Looks to Oversee Captives

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) said yesterday it found discrimination against minority borrowers at several unnamed banks tied to dealer discretion in setting dealer reserve. According to Automotive News, the bureau said in a “Supervisory Highlights” report released yesterday that a lower limit of 100 basis points, or 1 percentage point, on dealer reserve instead of the current standard limit of 200 or 250 basis points, depending on the loan term, “may reduce or effectively eliminate pricing disparities.” The American International Automobile Dealers Association, National Automobile Dealers Association, and National Association of Minority Automobile Dealers released a joint statement: "The CFPB has again failed to fully disclose its methodology for measuring for the presence of disparate impact . . . A better solution would be for lenders to adopt a robust retail compliance program that documents the basis of the pricing decision to effectively reduce the risk of discrimination in the purchasing process," the groups said. Read the entire statement here. The CFPB on Wednesday also released the first details of a proposed new rule that would officially extend its jurisdiction to nonbank auto lenders. For more on the CFPB’s report on discriminatory lending practices, click here

Honda, Chevrolet Give Natural Gas a Push for U.S. Drivers
Natural gas is the neglected stepchild of the alternative fuel vehicles industry, reports The Detroit News. Used in some commercial truck fleets, municipal bus services and the occasional taxicab, the plentiful low-emissions fuel has never caught on in passenger cars — even though it sells for about half the equivalent of a gallon of gasoline in California. Two automakers, including Honda, are making another run at selling compressed natural gas, or CNG, cars in the U.S., eyeing a market in commuters and efficiency-minded drivers. Honda launched an updated version of its natural gas-fueled Civic this year and Chevrolet is set to launch its dual-fuel Impala in a few months. Both cars are factory produced and have the same warranties as their gasoline-only counterparts. That should give consumers more confidence in the technology, the automakers said. It also prevents arguments over blame and responsibility if a problem crops up. Through the first half of this year, there have been only 254 new vehicle registrations for CNG autos, according to IHS Automotive. That compares with almost 47,000 registrations of electric cars and 46,000 registrations of plug-in hybrids. For more on a new push for natural gas vehicles, click here

Tesla Argues New Jersey Regulators Can't Stop Direct Sales
Tesla Motors Inc., in a court filing submitted Tuesday, argued that New Jersey regulators have no authority to shut down direct sales at the electric-vehicle maker’s stores in the state, reports Automotive News. Tesla is appealing a rules change made in March by the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission. That change blocked Tesla’s New Jersey stores from selling vehicles as of April 15, when their licenses expired. But the top representative for dealers in the state says the conflict likely will be resolved legislatively before Tesla’s regulatory challenge is even heard. “Something may be on the governor’s desk and signed before they even decide to grant oral arguments at all,” said Jim Appleton, president of the New Jersey Coalition of Automotive Retailers. Tesla filed for the appeal back in March, and Tuesday’s brief details the company’s reasons why the Superior Court of New Jersey should overturn the commission’s rules change. At least two bills are pending in the New Jersey Senate that would give Tesla an exemption to sell directly at up to four stores in New Jersey. It now has two stores. For the latest on Tesla’s attempt to expand its direct sales model in New Jersey, click here

1.5 Million More Cars on Road Than in 2013
The pool of vehicles in the U.S. is getting larger. As of June 30, there were more than 249 million cars on American roads — and the average age of these vehicles inched up from where it was a year ago, reports Auto Remarketing. That’s according to the latest Experian Automotive Quarterly Briefing released this week, which dissected vehicles in operation data along with a whole host of used-car market metrics. The report indicates there were 249.4 million vehicles in operation during the second quarter (as of June 30), compared to 247.9 million a year earlier. Just over a quarter of the cars on the road (25.2 percent) are from model-year 2010 or later, and 93.3 million vehicles are in what Experian called the “sweet spot” — model-years 2003 through 2009. The average age of cars on the road in Q2 was 11.0 years, up from 10.9 in Q2 of 2013. However, the 15-year rolling age dipped from 7.7 years to 7.6. The report also dives into year-to-date vehicle registrations. In the first half of 2014, there were 20.36 million used-vehicle registrations, down from 20.71 million in the same period of 2013. New-vehicle registrations, however, climbed from 7.96 million to 8.29 million. For more on the number of vehicles on America’s roads, click here

Stop-Start Problems Could Put Charge Into Ultracapacitor Market
Inefficiencies and durability questions cropping up with now-proliferating stop/start systems could be opening the door for long-promising, but little applied ultracapacitor technology in the light-vehicle market, reports WardsAuto. Ultracaps, long considered too costly for widespread employment in light vehicles, appear to be gaining traction as electrification takes hold and automakers find the technology’s advantages harder to resist, leading supplier Maxwell Technologies contends. Mikael Setterberg, manager and lead engineer-Engine Starting Group for the San Diego-based supplier, says disappointing battery performance and durability in burgeoning stop/start applications, including more-sophisticated, advanced-glass-mat (AGM) lead-acid batteries, is leading automakers to take a closer look at UCs. “You have to change an AGM every 1.5 to two years,” Setterberg says, suggesting an ultracap paired with a lower-cost conventional lead-acid battery can last 10 years/100,000 miles (162,000 km) in stop/start applications. Even the Advanced Lead-Acid Battery Consortium, which has been solidly behind the AGM movement, is acknowledging a potential future built around a combination conventional battery and ultracapacitor. Its website touts development of the “Ultrabattery,” which would incorporate a carbon supercapacitor electrode to extend battery life and challenge the performance of more expensive nickel-metal-hydride and lithium-ion batteries. For more on potential changes to electric vehicle batteries, click here

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Around the Web
Ferrari 458 Speciale Spider Will Make Paris Debut [Autoblog]
MIT App Would Help Cars Avoid Traffic Jams [24/7 Wall St.]
Easy Rider's Chopper is Up for Auction [CNN Money]
Toyota's New Hydrogen Car Quietly Rolls Into Town [USA Today]


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