** Thousands of autoworkers from foreign-owned non-union factories across the Southeast are seeking to organize their workplaces amid the electric vehicle (EV) manufacturing boom. Over the past two weeks, workers at an Indiana Honda plant, an Alabama Hyundai plant and a Tennessee Volkswagen plant complained to federal regulators that management had made illegal moves to prevent them from organizing.
** Oil companies offered $382 million for drilling rights in the Gulf of Mexico on Wednesday after courts rejected the Biden administration’s plans to scale back the sale to protect an endangered whale species.
** Toyota is recalling 1 million Toyota and Lexus vehicles to inspect for a defect that could prevent airbags from deploying in a crash. The recall covers several Toyota and Lexus models, with model years from 2020 to 2022.
** The Supreme Court will hear arguments in February on whether the Environmental Protection Agency can continue enforcing its anti-air-pollution “good neighbor” rule in 10 states, an effort to restrict smokestack emissions from power plants and other industrial sources that burden downwind areas with smog-causing pollution.
** U.S. new vehicles set a record high for fuel economy in 2022, with the biggest yearly improvement in nine years to an average of 26 miles per gallon (mpg) as electric vehicle sales jumped but the Detroit Three automakers continued to lag rivals.
** General Motors said nearly half its Buick dealers took buyouts this year rather than invest in selling and servicing electric vehicles as the automaker’s brands transitions to all electric by 2030. That means GM will end 2023 with about 1,000 Buick stores nationwide, down 47% from where it started the year.
** German wind power output reached a record high on Thursday as a storm covering northern Europe boosts generation across the region. Production from the thousands of turbines in the nation reached 53,013 megawatts at 11 a.m. Berlin time, according to European Energy Exchange data.
** China bought a record amount of coal from neighboring Mongolia last month as steel mills looked to cover a shortfall of the fuel after a spate of fatal mining accidents.
** Japanese transport ministry officials inspected Toyota subsidiary Daihatsu on Thursday, one day after officials announced it was suspending the small car unit’s shipments of all vehicles in and outside Japan after an investigation found improper testing involving 64 models.
** Houthi assaults on merchant ships as they sail through the Red Sea are driving up the shares of firms transporting everything from manufactured goods to oil and commodities.
** Yemen’s Houthi rebels vowed to continue targeting ships in the Red Sea despite a US move to compile an international naval task force to protect maritime trade in one of the world’s most important waterways.
** Six vessels carrying almost 5 million barrels of Russian oil failed to reach their destinations in India, some idling kilometers off the coast for weeks without providing a reason, Bloomberg reported on Dec. 20.