Originally published on the NRDC Expert Blog.
By Mitchell Bernard
Today’s unemployment numbers out of Washington affirm what the country’s experiencing on Main Street: a grinding climb from a devastating pandemic that’s taking a continuing toll on the economic security of our people. It’s great news that unemployment is falling. But 9.3 million Americans remain out of work.
President Biden has proposed the right remedy — the American Jobs Plan, a comprehensive package of strategic public investment that weds climate action to equitable recovery and puts people back to work in every community.
This is a bold vision for strong, lasting, and broad-based recovery. It sets the table for a generation of prosperity and progress. It means cleaner, healthier communities, both urban and rural. As the plan makes its way through Congress, it’s time for all of us to rally around it.
The American Jobs Plan is a stirring vote of confidence in the nation’s future. It’s built on the belief that U.S. workers can out-compete anyone in the world when given a fighting chance. That’s what this plan does.
It sets us on the path to 100 percent clean electricity by 2035 — wiping out nearly a third of the dangerous carbon pollution that’s driving the climate crisis — by helping to clean up the nation’s power sector.
It speeds the transition to electric cars and trucks with zero tailpipe emissions, expands sustainable transit options for those who need them most, and reconnects urban neighborhoods divided for decades by misguided highway routes.
It protects our communities from the risks and toxic pollution from more than 3.1 million abandoned oil and gas wells and coal mines, by capping and cleaning up these idled fossil fuel sites as we shift to cleaner, smarter ways to power our future.
And it ends the ongoing and unacceptable exposure to hazardous drinking water in as many as 10 million American homes, by replacing lead pipes and service lines with safe and modern alternatives, while upgrading wastewater, drinking water, and stormwater systems nationwide.
These are essential national priorities. Cleaning up our dirty cars, trucks, and power plants. Capping abandoned wells and mines. Getting the lead out of our drinking water.
Combined with other vital work, such as rebuilding aging bridges, roads, and ports, this investment will create or sustain 15 million jobs over the coming decade, a Georgetown University analysis shows, including 8 million for workers that require only a high school education or less.
These are good-paying jobs for welders, carpenters, truck drivers, electricians, steelworkers, and others, including those who want the collective bargaining opportunities that come from belonging to a union.
The clean energy sector offers multiple advantages: It pays 25 percent more than the average job for some 3 million workers who help to make our homes, cars, and workplaces more efficient; it builds electric and low-emission cars, trucks, and parts; it gets more clean power from the wind and sun; and it modernizes the grid and storage system we depend on for reliable power.
That’s core work in the American Jobs Plan. It’s how we roll up our sleeves and make good on Biden’s pledge to cut the U.S. carbon footprint in half by 2030, so we can stop adding carbon pollution to the atmosphere altogether by 2050.
That’s what the science tells us must happen — at home and abroad — if we’re to avert the worst of a climate crisis that last year alone inflicted more than $95 billion in damage nationwide, while combining with fossil fuel pollution to impose another $820 billion in health-care costs on our people.
Confronting this costly crisis will be the economic play of our lifetime, with clean energy investments set to attract more than $11 trillion in global capital in the space of this generation alone.
The American Jobs Plan will help make the United States a clean energy superpower — and make U.S. companies and workers the winners in the global clean energy sweepstakes.
The plan includes investments to plus-up research and investment in critical new technologies; support innovation to make U.S. factories more efficient; strengthen the domestic supply chain for the next generation of wind, solar, and battery technology; and expand training for workers looking to transition out of fading industries like fossil fuels and into more promising opportunities elsewhere.
Strengthening our economy. Putting our people back to work. Cleaning up toxic pollution that threatens our health. Standing up to the mounting costs and growing dangers of climate change.
These are the pillars of the American Jobs Plan — strategic investment that’s paid for by asking fossil fuel companies, other corporations, and those earning more than $400,000 a year to pay their fair share to support the kind of progress that’s enabled them to thrive. Investing in efficiency, meanwhile, will enable us to do more with less waste in our homes, workplaces and cars, cutting energy costs for our families and businesses.
Small wonder, then, that the plan is supported by nearly two-thirds of the country.
The American Jobs Plan accomplishes one thing more: It addresses what the pandemic has made all the more urgent.
A modern plague that has killed 600,000 people across the United States alone, the coronavirus pandemic has upended the lives of us all. No one is surprised to learn who’s suffered most: primarily the same low-income communities and people of color for whom the pandemic has only worsened long-festering inequities in education and employment opportunities, housing, and health care.
The American Jobs Plan is designed to address those inequities head-on. It’s tailored to deliver 40 percent of the economic, environmental, and health benefits of this strategic climate and clean energy investment to the same historically disadvantaged communities that bear a disproportionate share of the burden of environmental hazard and harm.
The American Jobs Plan is the grand strategy the country needs — and we need it now. The 2022 federal budget Biden proposed last week includes a down payment on this eight-year investment plan, with early investment to jump-start the progress it’s meant to ensure.
Now, it’s our turn to rally around this hopeful vision of a cleaner, healthier, more prosperous future for a nation united behind the climate action that can power a strong, just, and equitable recovery for every family, in every community, across this land.
Tesla releases stealth update with new features
Tesla has released a new software update to its fleet and while the release notes remain unchanged, there are a few exciting features that were stealth updated.
The automaker has started to push its 2023.11.4.2 software update.
The update’s release notes are the same as the previous update, but Tesla often updates or adds features without discussing them.
That’s the case with this new update, according to Green, a well-known Tesla hacker who often discovers new features inside Tesla’s code.
He reported that the latest update includes several stealth changes:
Like most premium vehicles today, Tesla has an automatic wiper system that automatically matches the speed of the wipers to the intensity of the rain or snow.
However, unlike most other automakers, Tesla doesn’t use a rain sensor for its system.
Instead, the automaker is using its Autopilot cameras to feed its computer vision neural net to determine the speed for the wipers.
It has been deployed in Tesla vehicles since 2018, but many owners have been complaining that it is not as accurate as other systems using rain sensors.
Tesla’s solution was an update called ‘Deep Rain’ that used a new neural net to power the feature. It came out in 2019, but it was a marginal improvement.
Now Green reports that owners can shut it down if they don’t like it.
Another important stealth update for safety in this new software update is the ability for automatic emergency braking (AEB) to brake for vehicles cutting into your lane. Previously, it would try to avoid things with steering, but AEB was reserved to prevent or reduce the impact for something blocking your way.
For FSD Beta users, the update also now reduces suspensions, which occur after misuse, like not paying attention to the road when using, to one week instead to two weeks.
America’s first US-built electric mini-truck begins street-legal homologation
The AYRO Vanish has grabbed headlines over the past year as it rolls ever closer to production at AYRO’s Texas factory. Now the electric mini-truck’s final step ahead of manufacturing has begun as the Vanish starts street-legal homologation.
The AYRO Vanish is an electric utility vehicle that is designed to fit into the low-speed vehicle (LSV) federal designation. The mini-truck uses a lightweight architecture to limit the entire vehicle weight and maximize the allowable payload.
The Vanish boasts a payload of up to 1,200 lb (544 kg), which is fairly close to many standard-sized pickup trucks. For comparison, a 2023 Ford F-150’s payload capacity starts at 1,310 lb (594 kg). The company also indicated that it plans to produce a non-street legal variant that will have a higher payload capacity of 1,800 pounds (816 kg). That model would be applicable to work sites, campuses and other areas where use on public roads is not required.
Unlike standard pickup trucks, the Vanish offers highly adaptable configurations. Optional rear cargo configurations including food boxes, flat beds, utility beds with three-sided tailgates, and van boxes for secure storage all point to potential commercial applications for the vehicle.
And those future commercial customers could be getting their hands on the Vanish’s steering wheel sooner rather than later. Heading for homologation testing means that the company is now closer than ever to putting those various designs on the road.
As AYRO CEO Tom Wittenschlaeger explained:
“Now that we’ve completed our internal testing, it’s time to ensure that the award-winning Vanish meets requirements of our national governing bodies. Once we’ve completed this process and receive final approval, we can begin delivering vehicles to our customers and dealers.”
In order for any road-worthy vehicle to be considered for sale, the vehicle must go through homologation to ensure it is safe and complies with government regulations.
LSVs have reduced regulatory hurdles, but there are still many safety requirements and design considerations to be addressed. The vehicles must meet regulations for the construction, design, durability, and performance requirements as outlined by federal governing bodies. In the US, this process is governed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
This complex process of homologation allows for vehicles to be officially classified by date and category as well as have official and certifiable technical information and specifications. The Vanish is completing homologation for both the United States and Canada, for which testing includes the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) 500, Canada Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (CMVSS) 500 and California Air Resources Board (C.A.R.B.).
In parallel with its homologation phase, AYRO is now planning to begin Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP) by early June to begin building the first 50 Vanish units that will be used as demo models for signed dealers.
The company plans to enter full-scale production upon the successful completion of its first 50 units.
As AYRO’s senior vice president of programs added:
“Our team has worked diligently to prepare for this day. This is one of the final steps in our product development process. Concurrently with homologation, we plan to begin LRIP and immediately following begin delivering vehicles to our customers and dealers.”
The AYRO Vanish opened for orders earlier this month, launching at a starting price of $33,990. While that price is more expensive than several other imported electric mini-trucks, the Vanish’s modular design (and soon-to-be street legal status) is a key differentiator.
AYRO’s vice president of Dealer Sales, Terry Kahl, previously explained the advantages of a modular platform:
With swappable bed configurations, we believe dealers can find a use case for the Vanish with almost any of their existing clientele. We have indications of interest from a rapidly growing number of dealers and now incoming dealers can find added value in that AYRO is accepting their pre-orders even before they join our dealer network. It should be an absolute win-win for our existing and onboarding dealers as well as future dealers.
WAU Project Cyber teased as ‘revolutionary’ high performance electric bike
We see new e-bike launches practically every week here at Electrek, but we rarely seem something quite so… futuristic looking as the upcoming WAU model currently being teased. The UK-based electric bike company is dripping out imagines of its upcoming Project Cyber, which looks like something between a high performance electric bicycle and a light electric motorcycle.
It’s not uncommon for e-bike companies to expand into the moped or light motorbike space. We watched it happen with SONDORS when the company unveiled the Metacycle, SUPER73 with the C1X, and several other smaller e-bike companies.
And while we don’t yet know how the Project Cyber e-bike will be classified, it’s certainly looking like it could be headed in a similarly aggressive direction.
WAU is best known for its long range, urban-oriented electric bikes with enclosed frames and iconic seat stay tail lights that also serve as highly visible turn signals.
It’s a welcome, distinguished design that sets itself apart from many of the other cookie cutter e-bikes we’ve seen over the last few years.
And it appears that WAU may be sticking with some of the same design language for its upcoming Project Cyber, based on the first few teaser images.
The company has been dripping out images and information in a Facebook group set up for sharing details about the upcoming e-bike.
One of the more revealing pieces of information includes a set of design drawings from early in the project. Multiple concepts can be seen, including some with and without bicycle pedals.
The inclusion of bicycle pedals would lend credence to this being a high performance e-bike, while a lack of pedals would put the two-wheeler into light motorbike territority.
WAU seems to be investing heavily in the bike’s technology, though it isn’t quite clear yet what that could mean in terms of features. Many new e-bikes have started to feature advanced connectivity features closer to that of electric cars, including telemetrics and remote operations. A teaser on the company’s site seems to imply that built-in GPS tracking may be included on the WAU Cyber e-bike.
The company is still playing it close to the vest with most details, but suggests that the new model could “revolutionize the industry.”
As WAU explained in the Facebook group description, “Get ready to be blown away by the most stylish pedelec the world has ever seen. Our state-of-the-art technology and design are set to revolutionize the industry, and we are thrilled to have you join us on this journey.”
The company also released several images showing a prototype frame being welded together, seen below.
We don’t yet know what else the WAU Cyber will hold in store for us, but with the reveal expected to come soon, we shouldn’t have to wait for long.
What do you think WAU will unveil as part of Project Cyber? Share your thoughts and guesses in the comment section below.
We’ll be sure to update as soon as we have more information on the upcoming e-bike.
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