Ban Fossil Fuel Vehicles

This headline was in the Globe and Mail today:

General Motors to shut down Oshawa plant in global restructuring.

Very bad news for the Canadian automotive industry. Many Canadians are blaming their government: an uncompetitive taxation system, high costs for energy and a burdensome regulatory environment.

Why is GM shutting down Oshawa? To focus on autonomous and zero-emission vehicles. And probably to relocate manufacturing activities from a higher cost country to a lower cost country.

It is too easy in North America to be isolated from what is happening around the world. For example, did you know that China announced a ban in 2017 on all production and new vehicle sales of gasoline and diesel by 2040?

And they are not alone.

Here is a current list of the bans that have been announced worldwide:

The auto industry is pouring billions into ramping up the production of electric vehicles in response to the bans that governments are imposing on gasoline and diesel vehicles. I’ve read estimates of roughly $100 billion with the expectation that 40 to 50 percent of all new production will be electric by 2040. Electric vehicles are less than 3 percent of the global market today. Here is one article about the upcoming changes to the automotive industry from an investor’s perspective.

Both the Canadian and U.S. governments have been rather silent on the banning of fossil fuel vehicles. There have been attempts by lobby groups to get the North American governments to impose bans at a national level. Even an online petition.

How possible would it be to pivot the automotive industry in 15 to 20 years? For most of the politicians ushering in these bans, they likely won’t be around to see them implemented. It’s also very difficult to predict how the technology will change over the next two decades. Likely these dates are soft dates intended to get an industry to focus on moving beyond conventional combustion engines.

I may well see a time when fossil fuel cars are no longer allowed to operate within large North American cities. It is already starting to happen in some cities in Europe.

Lorraine and I have not decided on our timing to change our coach. It seems, at least with what we have been seeing in our network of friends, that some owners of high-end motorhomes change their coaches frequently. As in every year or two. I suspect that within ten years, the decision to change a coach will be influenced by the actions of government on fossil fuels. The cost of diesel fuel may well become prohibitive and the RV industry will have to respond with a cost-effective alternative.

Regardless of whether you accept or deny climate change, fossil fuels appear to be on their way out. Perhaps even during my lifetime.

Essex On Fire

The Essex is a beautiful coach built by Newmar. You can find out more about the Essex on Newmar’s website here.

For Canadians, the Essex comes in at around $900,000, basically a million-dollar coach.

Which makes the following video somewhat hard to watch. If you have any issues viewing the video from this post, you can find it on Facebook here.

Their Essex and their toad were basically brand new. The toad caught fire first. They were able to bring their rig to a stop safely but they were unable to unhitch their toad and the fire spread to the back of their coach.

The owners were able to exit safely. Heartbreaking though. It would be so hard to watch your coach go up in flames.

What might have caused their toad to catch fire? I don’t know the reason for this incident. It could be due to an electrical fault. It could be due to friction if the toad was in gear or if the toad’s braking system was left engaged.

From what I have read, there are anywhere between 4,000 to 6,000 RV fires a year or about 15 RVs catching fire every day. Half of the fires are stationary.  I could not find any data on the number of RV fires caused by a towed vehicle.

When an RV is moving, the main culprits are engine fire or fire due to friction from the wheels and axles — tires and brakes account for roughly 20 percent of RV fires.

Using checklists might seem like overkill given the convenience and reliability of automobiles but there is good reason to be thorough when getting ready to head out on the road with a diesel pusher.

Diesel pusher engines are prone to engine fires and that reinforces the need to do frequent and thorough checks of the engine compartment for any signs of leaking.

Our toad, a Lincoln MKX, has a specific protocol to enter neutral towing mode. We make sure to check the free motion of the vehicle before we head out on the road and that the tow bar is properly engaged.

Checklists force a discipline to ensure that both our vehicles are safe and ready to operate.

Crossing The Border

In less than a week now we hope to cross the border into New York state.

We might make it as per our original schedule.

Our car is back from the Niagara Falls Lincoln dealer. The exhaust gas sensor was the culprit for the engine warning light. The part had to be ordered from the U.S. and it took several days to reach Canada.

Not unlike the replacement awning assembly for our coach.  It needed to be ordered from the U.S. and it is taking several days to reach Canada. Or should I say several weeks?

The good news is that the parts did reach Newmar yesterday and Newmar did ship them out to the dealer same day. The tracking information puts the delivery to our dealer for Monday. That is when the dealer would like us back on site. We will be pulling up our jacks on Monday and heading back to Barrie, Ontario where it is a good deal colder than it is here in the Niagara region. The Barrie forecast is for a high of 4 Celsius, or 39 Fahrenheit on Monday. With snow.

The water service is shutdown at the dealer due to the cold weather so we will have to rely on our tanks for our stay. We did not get a chance to sanitize the fresh water tank after we pulled the coach out of storage so we are going to have to do so before we head up to the dealer.

We are spending the day today getting ready for our border crossing.

We carry the following documentation for the border crossing:

  • Passports
  • Nexus cards
  • Travel insurance certificates and policies
  • Site confirmations for all of our stateside travel
  • Income tax return
  • Investment statements
  • Bank statements
  • Utility bills
  • Inventory of valuables (including sales receipts and serial numbers)
  • Record of travel in the United States for the past five years
  • Papers for Tabby (our golden retriever)

Aside from our Nexus cards, I do not expect to use the documentation for the border crossing. Our experience crossing the border has always been straightforward and we have travelled extensively in the U.S. over the years. But you never know and it is always good to be prepared. We do not have a right to enter the U.S. as we are visitors and we need to have the evidence to prove that we intend to return to Canada and that we have the financial means to support ourselves while in the U.S.

Looking forward to starting our journey south. Hopefully the awning replacement goes well and we can be on our way as planned.

Just in time.

Blue Ox Tow Bar Over Or Under?

In a post earlier today I had shared a video of the Blue Ox Tow Bar installation. The technician walked me through the process of connecting the tow bar. In that video, he had all of the cables under the tow bar.

I had already done some research beforehand and there are different views on whether all of the cables should be over or under the tow bar. Generally, the prevailing view is to place the lighting and breakaway cables above the tow bar and the safety lines below. The rationale is that the lighting and breakaway cables will be better protected from potential road debris.

The Gadget Guru had a Blue Ox representative run through the process and you can see in Andy’s video that the Blue Ox representative does place the lighting and breakaway cables over the tow bar.

I decided to contact Blue Ox directly and I asked them for their specific recommendation.

Here was their response:

Richard,

We only recommend that the breakaway cable be above the tow bar. The safety cables and electrical cables should be under the tow bar that way they avoid the latch handles on the tow bar. The chance that either the safety cables or electrical cable would cause the latch handles to push down and unlock the leg while towing is very small but there is a chance. The breakaway cable is small enough where it doesn’t have enough weight to affect the latch handle. Let me know if you have any other questions. Thank you and have a great day!

Blue Ox Tow Bar

A little over a month ago we went to the dealer to have our new tow bar system installed on our coach.

We expected to be at the dealer for only two days and we wound up being stranded there for a few weeks due to a series of accidents. A punctured oil pan followed by a damaged awning. We are still waiting on the parts for the awning and we hope to be on our way as scheduled for November 1st although we did leave the dealer last week to spend a few weeks shivering in the cold at Sherkston Shores.

Winter is coming in early this year.

I put a video together on our tow bar system. It shows how to connect the tow bar, the car guard and the supplementary braking system.

I have put a few hours against the tow bar system since it was installed and all works well. The Lincoln tracks perfectly behind the coach and I am pleased with the Blue Ox product so far. It seems very well engineered and it is very straightforward to use.