Low emission and electric vehicles are in the news again, as governments and legislatures across the world get tough on pollution, while Tesla tries to allay fears over the safety of its in-car batteries. Read on for this week’s automobile news.  


Mercedes to simplify US offering 

Mercedes-Benz currently sells some 90 model options across 15 nameplates in the USA, but that’s set to change in 2019-20 as the German car manufacturer seeks to simplify its product portfolio. As reported by Auto News Mercedes outlined its plans at a company meeting in Las Vegas this May.  


The current dizzying array of options makes life more complicated for dealers, with each model option requiring their own marketing materials and parts and service inventory – all of which increase costs for dealers on the ground. It’s hope slimming down the options will make life easier on the shop floor.  


These changes do not mean that Mercedes is taking its eye off the US, however. The compact A-Class was introduced in March, and plans are afoot to bring the GLB Crossover to the States before the end of the year.  


Accreditation beckons for UK EV Dealers 

The United Kingdom is hoping to increase consumer confidence in electric vehicles by introducing a system of accreditation for EV dealers. Dealerships that pass an audit will be designated “Electric Vehicle Approved”. Along with assessing current knowledge, the scheme – developed by the National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA) and the Energy Saving Trust (EST) – will encourage dealerships to become more involved with the servicing of EV’s via training programmes.  


As reported in Air Quality News, Sue Robinson, director at the NFDA, said, “It is extremely positive to join forces with the Government’s Office for Low Emission Vehicles and the Energy Saving Trust to develop EVA, an initiative which we expect to play a key role in the market transition to electric vehicles.”  


This announcement follows the creation earlier this year of the EV Governance Framework designed to introduce common standards across the sector and encourage knowledge sharing to increase the uptake of EV’s with consumers.   


California Hints at a future with fewer gas powered cars 

A meeting in San Diego last week left auto dealers in the Golden State feeling the pressure after Mary Nichols, chair of the California Air Resources Board, discussed future measures to fight pollution, including “bans on certain types of vehicles”. According to Auto News, Nichols was expected to go even further, suggesting an outright ban on gas-powered vehicles, although she in fact pulled back from making such stark remarks at the conference.  


It’s not the first time the topic has been raised in California – last year a bill to halt the sale of combustion-engine cars by 2040 was introduced at the State Legislature although at present it remains just an idea.  


California already has the largest number of EV’s anywhere in the USA, with the California New Car Dealers Association reporting over half a million electric vehicles on the road.  


Tesla releases a software update after vehicle fires 

After two Tesla cars caught fire while parked in separate incidents in Shanghai and Hong Kong over recent months, the company has announced its releasing an update to its battery software. As reported in the BBC, Tesla released the following statement: “As we continue our investigation of the root cause… we are revising charge and thermal management settings on Model S and Model X vehicles via an over-the-air software update that will begin rolling out today, to help further protect the battery and improve battery longevity.” 

This latest setback marks a turbulent year for Tesla, which reported a loss of over $700 million for the first quarter of 2019. Further losses are expected in Q2.