BMW: Gasoline Car Ban Poses “Imminent Risk” To European Automakers

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Yves here. It’s surprising to see BMW speaking up only now on the impact of the coming EU ban in 2035 of sales of new fossil fuel burning vehicles. I don’t know if the dynamic is the same, but recall during the Brexit negotiations how UK businesses didn’t speak up for their interests (except financial services firms and even then not very forcefully). They were oddly silent on a myriad of issues, from trucker licenses and routes, to the impossibility of preventing border frictions. And there were no demands for manuals and procedures and guidance until way way way too late in the game for the Government to come up with anything. Knowledgeable people in the UK claimed that the corporate community was afraid of retaliation if nary a bad word was said about Brexit.

With the 2035 phaseout of gas and diesel fueled vehicles, perhaps similar self-censorship or fear of reprisals. But that would also mean that the once politically very powerful Germany automakers wield far less clout than before.

But separately, this scheme does illustrate Brexit-level hopium. Yes, it probably is possible to get to 2035 and not have disruption and counter-productive behavior, like a gas car sales boom before the drop dead date and then their owners babying them so they have much longer lived in service than historical norms. But the EU appraoch seems to be just to let Mr. Market sort it out and not do much in the way of infrastructure and alternative mode of transit investment…or even trying to rethink job and societal provisioning needs so as to reduce the need for as many car trips as now.

Another issue is that just because governments mandate an activity does not mean it will happen. As we reminded readers, an early 1990s electric vehicle mandate by California and a coalition of northeast states, required that a certain percentage of cars offered for sale by the end of the 1990s be electric. That requirement was abandoned when it became clear there was virtually no demand for these cars.

And demand may again be the problem with this picture. Aside from concerns about whether it’s possible to have enough grid capacity and electric generation to support a large switch to electric cars, there’s also price and material needs. EVs are more expensive than internal combustion engine cars, and that cost disadvantage seems likely to persist. A friend who owns a niche high end car supplier (specialized tech with many of the best respected automakers as clients) says there is now a huge inventory of unsold EVs in the US that weirdly is not yet well reported.

And if some start seeing these mandates as threats to the livelihood, we could see more technotage, like the destruction of ULEZ (emission) monitors in London or the destruction of all the EV chargers at a Costco in Barstow, CA, per a sighting by a reader very much inconvenienced by that vandalism.

By Tsvetana Paraskova, a writer for with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews. Originally published at OilPrice

The EU’s pledge to ban the sale of new gasoline and diesel cars and vans from 2035 poses an “imminent risk” to Europe’s car manufacturers, which are unlikely to win a looming EV price war with their Chinese competitors, BMW chairman Oliver Zipse has told the Financial Times.

“I want to send a message: I see that as an imminent risk,” Zipse said.

The executive, however, said BMW was in a better position to compete with the Chinese manufacturers, most of which are targeting buyers of cheaper and smaller electric vehicles.

Yet, “The base car market segment will either vanish or will not be done by European manufacturers,” Zipse told FT.

European Union member states in March approved an emissions regulation under which the bloc will end sales of new carbon dioxide-emitting cars and vans in 2035.

The new rules target 55% CO2 emission reductions for new cars and 50% for new vans from 2030 to 2034 compared to 2021 levels, as well as 100% CO2 emission reductions for both new cars and vans from 2035.

The landmark deal was made possible after Germany – the biggest economy, the biggest car market, and the biggest car manufacturer – sought and won an exemption for e-fuels. Germany wanted sales of new cars with internal combustion engines if they run on e-fuels to continue beyond 2035, and it got that exemption.

The slump in exports of Germany’s auto industry to China in the first quarter of 2023 could be the beginning of a new long-term trend of “strong disruption” in German-Chinese trade as China’s EV boom accelerates, researchers at the IW institute in Cologne said in a report in June.

“There appear to be strong disruptions playing out in the automotive sector, especially regarding China’s increasing importance as an exporter of electric cars,” the report’s authors wrote.

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  1. TimH

    If we want The Market to sort this out, new cars could have a total carbon figure allocated to their manufacture (high for complex cars, electric and hybrid cars) and final disposal at EOL. Add a per mile carbon operating cost (with a stated percentage of carbon-burning associated with electricity production, say 50%. EV panels and associated electronics, wiring etc use carbon to manufacture).

    Now give a financial advantage to the purchaser of the current bottom 5% carbon consuming new vehicles. People will buy them. Companies will make more of them.

  2. BeliTsari

    I’m remembering, folks were dubious about US/UK proxy war, blowing-up Nord Stream, etc had as much to do with cutting thriving EU (German, Czech) AGW-mitigating industry’s FAR cheaper, much cleaner Roodki LNG, as it did attempting to rescue (the Blob’s) planet destroying FRACKING Ponzi scam, they’d invested in? Simultaneously shorting, crushing, or forcing COVID on sero-naive Chinese & other Asian AGW-mitigating equities’ work force was the height of nuanced WEF free market nudging PMC & retired yuppies out of GeelyVolvo, SAIC GM Wuling, Tesla & BYD EVs?

    1. mrsyk

      Now that’s what I call “letting mr market sort it out”, free trade and all that, heh heh. IMO blowing up Nordstream is the canniest action “the West” has taken so far during the Russian SMO. Interesting times for sure.

      1. BeliTsari

        Well, the crews @ EuroPipe Mülheim were betting, it would be a Cypriot-Israeli oilgarch, Norwegian or Polish team, WAY before Hills or Biden got around to it (but they’d figured, it’d be a fake NDE pig?) Manhattan’s UWS has lots more GINORMOUS ICE SUVs (PHEVs garaged @ $1K/ mo to “save the planet” driving upstate each week. But, if you mention Volvo EVs are Chinese, you get “the stare!” It’s different from the “mask” stare. They’d tried i3 & i8 & kept hitting j-walkers (silent BMWs!) Now, Kia & Hyundai hybrids (the HELP!) outnumber Geely, BYD, Rivian, ZEEKR, XPeng (hanging Tesla wires get torn down by us 6’4″ hillbillies). Bus, cab & Uber are hybrids. No CNG/ range-extended EV garbage or service vehicles, yet, so Biden’s war did the trick?

    1. Grumpy Engineer

      Yes indeed. An addition impediment not listed in the article is lack of lithium. Worldwide lithium-ion battery manufacturing is ~600 GWh/year, about half of which is used in cars and the other half for grid storage and other industrial applications. If we assume 70 kWh of battery per car, this means we can product ~4.3 million EVs per year worldwide. Auto sales in the EU alone exceed 11 million vehicles per year, and many countries outside the EU also have EV plans.

      So unless lithium mining and battery production ramp up massively, physics will overrule the EU’s mandate and their transition to 100% EV auto sales by 2035 will fail. And it must be noted that the EU currently produces less than 1% of the world’s lithium, with only Portugal providing any meaningful amount ( So the EU is effectively demanding that other countries massively expand their environmentally-destructive lithium mining activities to support the EV goals of the EU.

  3. Palm & Needle

    I think personal cars are a destructive cultural dead end, and we would have been much better off if they hadn’t taken deep roots in our societies. So I would welcome the demise of car manufacturers. If only we had a planned economy capable of managing such transitions to avoid mass unemployment and associated chaos…

    1. Louis Fyne

      100 years ago the automobile was the “progressive”-avant garde mode of transportation.

      The automobile (the thinking went from the likes of Corbusier who would be a progressive, global-leaning, TED-talk technocrat today) would liberate people from the dirty, coal-fired, manure-filled inner cities and tenements.

      1. Polar Socialist

        100 years ago most people lived within a walking distance from their place of work. My granddad told us kids how he used to walk with his mother the mile and a half to the weaving mill she was employed in when he was 5 or so. Just so that his mother could keep an eye on him (not because he had to work).

      2. Benny Profane

        Yes, the car was actually promoted as a way tlo clean the urban environment. The downtowns of major American cities were horrid with manure at the turn of the century. Luc Sante’s Low Life is an excellent window into late nineteenth century NYC, and there’s a picture of a pile of manure on the side of an avenue that is basically a brown snow bank. There were breeds of horses that fulfilled the functions of trucks today, and they were huge, along with what they left behind.
        There’s a reason anybody with money left the city in summer. Imagine lower Manhattan with the crowded tenement ghettos with no indoor plumbing, and hundreds of horses on the streets. In August.

        1. Jorge

          And… in 1872-73 there was the Great Horse Flu. There was a worldwide influenza outbreak that debilitated horses, but not people. Millions of horses got sick, and some died, but the horses that were sick could not work. A chunk of Boston burned down because the horse-pulled water carts were immobile.

          I believe that this experience kick-started the US/European race to perfect the “horseless carriage”, something that couldn’t catch cold. I do not know if this thesis has been analyzed by industrial historians.

    2. digi_owl

      The car basically replaced the horse as the symbol of freedom, at least in USA.

      The protagonist can always rely on their mount to take them towards the sunset.

  4. Es s Cetera

    There’s something of a category mistake in having a German maker of luxury cars complaining about non-luxury cars being cheaper, regardless which country or whether gas or electric. What, would they rather the Chinese up the price of their cars?

    If they’re complaining on a cost of materials or manufacturing basis, well, they’ve lost that initiative especially if they try not to use Chinese anything. If they want to be competitive they need to drop the anti-China bias.

    1. Bugs

      Some of the BYD models are aimed directly at the luxury market and underprice the Germans by a significant amount. They frankly look pretty good, but lack the status symbolism, for now at least.

  5. Paul Whittaker

    recent examples of numerous fires in New York, causing deaths and injuries brought calls for a ban on EV’s. One of these fires was a ev bicycle shop. Imagine a fire in the underground parking of multistory apartments.. Manufacturers suggesting not parking inside or in one case not within 50ft of other vehicles, how stupid can this get?

  6. PlutoniumKun

    First a point of clarity – EV’s are not electric cars, EV’s means electric vehicles, everything from scooters and bikes to high speed trains. EV’s are becoming the norm worldwide, its the private car market that is lagging, mostly due to physics. But for clarity, I’ll use EV as it is used here – for cars only.

    BMW is indulging in special pleading on this. They were fast out of the gate with their I3 range, and then bizarrely sabotaged it (for some reason known only to BMW insiders, but its believed this was behind the ‘early retirement’ of CEO Harald Kruger in 2019). They bet the farm that they could get another generation of very profitable ICE vehicles, and realized belatedly they missed the boat. VW is going all in on EV’s as are the French manufacturers. The Japanese and Koreans have hedged their bets on various forms of hybrid, which for the moment consumers seem to like, but are inevitably a dead end as hybrids are inherently more expensive than ICE only or EV only cars.

    Calculating the rate of EV car take up is difficult due to different definitions, but all the evidence suggests that worldwide they are rapidly becoming dominant, although there is a wide range of take-up around the world. The US is, as so often, an outlier when it comes to cars. A particular problem in the US is that to make EV’s work efficiently you need small, light cars, which seems to be anathema to the US consumer. Another problem is the chicken and egg one with infrastructure. Europe is leading the way in ensuring charging points become the norm in housing schemes and on highways, but it takes time and lots of money. A key point on this is that countries with more advanced power grids (i.e. not the US) have a huge incentive to adopt EV’s as with smart pricing they can improve the efficiency of grids significantly.

    The huge problem for car makers is not consumer demand, nor technical issues, but quite simply, China has completely monopolized the supply chain. The ramp up in battery output in China is simply staggering, but its proving impossible for non-Chinese carmakers to get into the game. Tesla were smart in essentially becoming a Chinese company as far as supply chains are concerned. Most of China’s competitors are trying to create their own supply chains (the French in particular are massively investing in a series of factories in northern France), but they will not be able to compete on price and they may struggle to get their hands on crucial materials. Its the same problem as with solar panels – China has used massive state subsidies (nobody seriously denies this) to swamp the world with cheap renewables (a good thing), but this is causing chaos among traditional manufacturers. Countries have to decide whether to go mercantilist on this, or just accept the need to import. For the moment, everyone from Europe to Japan seems undecided about what to do – in the meanwhile China is ramping up at an enormous scale.

    Incidentally, the French could well be the big winners in this, as unlike most other countries they are focusing on the small city car market and the cheap and rugged market rather than a ‘top down’ approach. Renaults ‘budget’ brand Dacia (made in Romania and Morocco) is likely to put it up to other manufacturers, including the Chinese by making the sort of car most consumers really want (well, outside the US). One of the problems (as noted in the linked article), is that consumers have been convinced that they need long range, when in reality the overwhelming number of cars are driven for short distances in cities and don’t need huge batteries.

    As a final point, in my opinion the key reason that the big car companies are so reluctant to take on EV’s is not cost or other issues – their big fear is that the manufacturing simplicity of EV’s will mean cars will become commodified items like Television sets or mobile phones – a surplus of basic EV componentry will mean many more new market entrants (not necessarily making traditional cars), which will drive down the profitability for all except the one or two companies that manage to persuade consumers that they offer a premium.

  7. David in Friday Harbor

    So much Magical Thinking!

    The 2035 EV mandates appear to represent a Brexit-grade death cult. At current rates of construction the infrastructure cannot be built-out in this timeframe to support vehicle charging at the current level of car use for personal mobility.

    There also appears to be no serious development of the sort of functional (possibly autonomous) mass-transit at the enormous scale that would support the dispersed patterns of habitation and commuting preferred by most people.

    Without a robust charging network or viable alternatives, it is a fool’s errand to convince consumers to shell-out the 25-to-30-percent (and more) premium required to purchase or lease an EV. Chinese manufacturers have a huge lead in manufacturing less expensive EV’s and a stranglehold on the necessary raw materials. Mr. Market will bury the North American and European auto industries.

    1. digi_owl

      No so much preferred as demanded by financialized housing market.

      Ever growing “inner” city pricing results in people settling further and further out, where the prices are lower for the time being.

      1. BeliTsari

        “sort of functional (possibly autonomous) mass-transit at the enormous scale that would support the dispersed patterns of habitation and commuting preferred by most people” Remember WTD’s SkyBus/ People Mover in ’60s Pittsburgh or BART in the Bay Area? Cynical & kinda NASTY attempts to DERAIL any return to LRV in “urban” areas or high speed interurban (like Chicago & the NE Corridor had before 1948?) Sounds lots nicer than “white flight,” or a duopoly mandated 30% income investment in spending hours each day in gas guzzling high maintenance EZCredit cars? We’re basically writing the same thing, only, euphemized into PMC?

        Until Jan 20, 2021 our glorious Free Market LOVED all of this, NASDAQ up >85% & Asian PHEV, PV, renewables, microprocessor controlled efficient IC & e-mobility up~120%. Jeepers, I wonder what could’ve happened? (this sector grew exponentially, right through reactionary Trump!)

  8. Ignacio

    Something that could be done as early as 2024 would be to limit the size, power and speed of cars but who am I to say what should be done. BMW wouldn’t like it either.

    1. a_geist

      Speed limit discussion in Germany (ongoing):

      “But we can’t make those roadsigns for the limit! But it doesn’t cut emissions by a lot! But the people who want to commute 100 miles a day will loose soooo mucht time!”. “Bullshit”. “But FREEDOM!”

  9. Carolinian

    FWIW our local BMW assembly plant–which exports all over the world–has said they will be making electric cars by the end of the decade. It’s unclear whether they will still make some gasoline cars there.

    And to prove that they are serious they have said they will be building a battery plant in our county as well.

  10. Joe Well

    It’s so difficult to pay attention to these stories when, as Yves has repeatedly observed, massive immediate reduction in carbon emissions is necessary, which makes private vehicle ownership of any kind an unaffordable luxury.

  11. lyman alpha blob

    Where will the electricity come from for these overpriced European-made EVs come 2035? By burning US-supplied overpriced LNG?

  12. heresy101

    If BMW wants to survive, it needs to stop screwing around with hydrogen and go all in on BEVs. EVs are spreading fast and will likely join Norway and Sweden at 85% BEVs in new car sales. EVs have a 24% German market share with Tesla Model Y being 3rd overall. By 2030, some 80% of new car sales are very likely to join Norway as BEVs.

    A detailed discussion of the German auto production and market is here.
    Chinese BEVs are already being sold in Europe. Volvo and MG are Chinese companies that are selling electric EVs and electric trucks. Audi and VW are using Chinese EV platforms. European Teslas are currently made in China.

    “Using Volkswagen will be using four different EV platforms from four different joint ventures to power its EVs — from FAW (VW), SAIC (Audi), Xpeng (VW), and Leap Motors (VW). Let that sink in. Audi, the luxury German brand, will have the same underpinnings as the SAIC MG4 — a popular value-for-money car for everyman.”

    1. digi_owl

      Dunno how it is in Sweden etc, but in Norway EVs took off thanks to some sleeping laws that meant people could drive their brand new Tesla the bus lanes during rush hour. They were also exempt from toll roads.

      Thing is that car taxes are a big income source for the government, and thus they plan to taper off those exemptions. The initial push came under the last right wing government, but they knew it would be unpopular so they punted the final decision down to the individual municipality. The current labor government seem be taking that poison pill head on though.

      Never mind that many still drive used cars coming off corporate leases and like.

  13. Jams O'Donnell

    Right now in the west the norm is for each household to have either one or two cars. That is / will be what each future household in Africa, S. America and Asia will want to have for themselves. That will be totally impossible both in terms of power output and raw materials. The corollary is that western levels of car ownership will have to be drastically reduced, and supplanted by mass transport solutions for all locations, unless we want to fight the rest of the world for the current very unfair distribution of goods and resources. This will of course be more difficult for sparsely populated rural areas, but that might in one way be good – i.e. easier to allocate land for wildlife reserves, etc.

    1. John Steinbach

      When I was an undergrad at the University of Michigan in the School of Natural Resources in the early 70s, I belonged to a discussion group called The Association for the Advancement of Appropriate Technology for Developing Countries (IIRC APPROTECH). Most of us were foreign students from Africa and Asia.

      The premise, even then was that the industrialized North would have to undergo massive energy conservation measures to avoid ecological catastrophe, and that, what we then called the “Developing Countries”, must have access and funding for appropriate low ecological impact technology. The coffee table talk then was what would happen if the average Chinese or Indian family had refrigeration, air conditioning and a car. Consensus was the Earth would burn up. We really didn’t understand AGW back then!

      1. some guy

        I remember attending a few of those meetings just to see. At the time I attended my few meetings/gatherings, the IIRC APPROTECH group had a sort of elder “spiritual advisor” named Paul Banner as I remember. He had very short gray hair and Serious Engineer Glasses. Is that someone you remember ever having met?

  14. Benny Profane

    Where is the charging infrastructure, and the beefing up of the power grid to fuel the EVs? The Green party in Germany lives in the same la la land that Newsom and the Dems exist in. Lay down a decree, and let the “Market” figure it out. Is the Market going to triple the power of the grid? No. Just like the Market can’t make enough shells to fight Russia. But the talk is thick.

  15. a_geist

    So, after protesting against carmania today: they didn’t just speak up now – they lobbied for years and years and got successful. Someone very deep into their world apparently thought that the advantages of ICEs are so big*, people will just want us to grow more crops for “e-fuels”.

    The “liberal” party (nowadays an extremely thin front for corporate interests and networked within the Atlas-network) zombies still push that around here in Germany, even wanting tax breaks for e-fuels (and market everythere!). They also argue in a way, which would make the Donald blush, starting with babble about new fission reactors which will revolutionize everything, blending into talk about fusion – which is right around the corner according to them. 2min later they explain that Germany can’t be energy independent (I thought fusion is right around the corner!) and we definitely need those LNG carriers with e-fuel-“molecules” from the desert (I somehow wonder how those atoms forming the molecules arrive there, but hey :)).

    Meanwhile the Chinese were not as stupid as those corporate boardrooms full of white old-men and the odd south-american and Bharat-people thought. They now offer nice enough electric cars (BYD Dolphin) at 30k€ and I guess BMW can let their university department buy battery cells of Ali-Express to find out what went wrong (tbh. at this point they just seem to have gone to develop “systems” – undergrad theses should be a good proxy for work performed. Also note, how they just put commercial job offerings at their page. Freedom of science probably…). Still this was no catastrophe yet – it just needed a recession for all the financial dreams to come down (as all car companies long ago stopped being industry and became financial corporations…), and now those boardrooms tremble…

    * I honestly don’t know of any advantages in a part of the world, where 98% of the population can walk 20km straight in a line and reach a highway or active rail-line. I am quite sure you can pick any village >200 people in Germany and a bus will go there once a weekday and that bus will 100% of the time connect to a place where you can catch a train. While having no car is hard there, having a reasonable electric car going a 100miles in winter is just fine.

  16. some guy

    If the EU has really agreed to make its constituent-nation carmakers stop making I C engine cars after 2035, then a way these companies can stay in semi-existence beyond that might be to make I C engine cars which could last a hundred years apiece ( or more) and after 2035, keep making money selling replacement parts for them and dealer-service mechanical repair for them and etc.

    ” Behold! We have stopped making new I C engine cars, just as we promised! Exquisitely legal.”

  17. Brooklin Bridge

    Short of force (regulations), they have quite a ways to go to make EV’s seriously desirable in comparison to petrol fuel, especially for people who live in cold climates or in non urban and remote areas where charging stations are few and time consuming to boot. Price is another factor. It seems to be currently assumed that people are willing to pay more for electric vehicles (you always hear how you will save money over the long term by not having to buy ever more expensive gas/diesel) and this “conditioning” will be exploited long after technical issues could be solved.

    Another issue, less talked about, that will seep in via “out of nowhere” legislation is intrusiveness. While not intrinsically part of EV’s, data collection is going to be impossible for the ruling classes to resist taking advantage of during the required shift from petrol fuel to electric. When the required shift to electric isn’t enough, self driving technology will be, but it will all seem like the same thing. The big ears and the big nose and that irresistible urge to have power over the masses will be billed, when discussed at all, as a required part of the transition and a feature not a bug. Yet, when your car suddenly tells you you shouldn’t buy so many groceries, or that there are much better ways to get from X to Y or that you use your car too often and your “allowance” is going to be cut down, or that given your phone conversations, a visit to the local thought police to discuss your attitude can’t be further delayed, (gasp for air), for many, the old gas guzzler will seem like a dream.

  18. Ergo Sum

    While not intrinsically part of EV’s, data collection is going to be impossible for the ruling classes to resist taking advantage of during the required shift from petrol fuel to electric.

    Vehicles with petro fuel already had data collection, a.k.a. telemetry, spying, etc., for the last 15 – 20 years. Car manufactures make a pretty penny already, by selling the hoovered up data to insurance companies, or anyone who wants to pay for it. There are plenty of issues with the all electric vehicles, data collection is not one of them…

  19. Mike Smitka

    I’m part of the GERPISA network of auto industry researchers (mostly social science and business school types); our meeting this past June was in Brussels. Of course we had panels of regulators and lobbiests as part of the conference.

    One theme was that the setting of the regulatory framework was dominated by the German automakers with about 80 people in Brussels, versus a mere handful for others. The resulting emissions standards proved much harder to meet for the small- and mid-sized vehicles offered by Fiat, Renault, Peugeot, Ford, Citroen and the mass-market side of VW. The same happened in the US, with the sedan share of the market collapsing because it wasn’t possible to make money. (The shift in both markets toward SUVs was both push and pull.)

    I won’t try to detail the regs, but basically Europe and the US use a “footprint” approach that allows larger footprints to have higher total emissions, with a fleet approach that gives credits for EVs. The relative costs of improving fuel efficiency are smaller for big, inefficient vehicles, biasing commercial incentives towards the big. Things would look very different if that tax was on overall emissions, without a footprint adjustment. Tesla would never have survived without the ability to sell EV credits during the dozen years when it consistently lost money on actually selling cars.

    With tighter regs, everyone needs EVs to lower their fleet averages. In effect purchasers of high-margin, luxury and (in the US, very large) gas-powered vehicles subsidize EVs. But now in the US we also have the IRA.

    BMW, VW and Mercedes remain highly profitable; they thought they could hold back on launching EVs until the technology was more mature and battery costs came down. Except that battery prices haven’t come down enough. Now they have to sell EVs en masse to hit emissions targets, under EU regs. They are now scrambling to find ways to “walk back” the regs. Of course potential bottlenecks in the battery supply chain are also a threat, until such time as non-lithium batteries become a better alternative (ca 2031).

    None of this helps the average household who would prefer (€, $) a small vehicle, or the jobs that revolve around the mass market firms. I grew up in Detroit, which has lost 1.3 mil in population (nods to the UofM alumni, 100 of my high school classmates went there as did my parents/siblings, I was a traitor). The US is somewhat similar – CA regs and the states that follow their lead – except that trade barriers are higher so that less expensive Chinese EVs can’t find their way here.

    1. Felix_47

      I think the US gives a huge tax credit for very large SUVs and pickups which are used for “business.” A lot of my attorney friends say they need such a vehicle to carry files to court.

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