Auto News for Dec. 17

Audi A4jaguar_xe

The short list for European Car of the Year has been released. Among the finalists more recognizable to a U.S. audience are the Audi A4, BMW 7 series, Jaguar XE, Mazda MX-5, and Volvo XC90. Names you might not recognize are the Opel/Vauxhall Astra and the Skoda Superb. Opel is part of GM and Skoda is in the VW family. The winner will be revealed on the eve of the Geneva auto show on Feb. 29th. The Audi and the Jag are pictured.

The EPA, in its Light Duty Fuel Economy Trends report, said Mazda is the most fuel-efficient auto maker in the U.S. It has a fleet-wide adjusted fuel economy of 29.4 mpg and the lowest CO2 emissions of 328.

Gas is cheap and that has consumers buying larger vehicles these days. So the EPA’s average fuel economy reading only increased 0.2 mpg in 2014 to 24.3 mpg. The agency did say makers exceeded its goals for cutting carbon dioxide emissions by a wide margin. That is still a long way from the 54.5 mpg fleet-wide average that automakers must achieve by the year 2025.

GM will spend $356.4 million to upgrade its plants in Saginaw, Grand Rapids and Flint, Michigan. The move will create 50 new jobs and allow the retention of nearly 500 jobs.

California is considering new rules that say manufacturers can test self-driving cars on its highways, but there must also be a human on board, one who holds an “autonomous vehicle operator certificate.” And those autonomous cars must come equipped with a steering wheel and pedals. Two public hearings will be held on the proposals that have already been criticized by Google as holding back the technology.

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