Camila Domonoske

If you want to know why it's hard to buy a car these days, just take a look at all the vacant spots at your local dealerships.

When Sarah Chismar, a Toyota salesperson, surveyed the empty pavement at her dealership in Missouri this week, she sighed.

"In a normal month, we probably will have, like, 120 new cars," she said. "Right now, I think we have maybe 10."

And she's happy to have 10. "Last week we had five," she added.

Although oil companies are still assessing the damage at the oil rigs, platforms and refineries that were struck by Hurricane Ida, signs point toward a limited impact on gasoline availability and prices.

AAA has warned of price volatility, and several analysts expect temporary price increases of several cents, but experts are not expecting a dramatic or prolonged disruption to the market.

Updated August 30, 2021 at 12:54 PM ET

Hundreds of thousands of people are without power in Louisiana and Mississippi, and outages could last for more than a month in parts of the region.

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It feels like just yesterday that workers across America were able to take their masks off at work. But the extremely contagious delta variant is spreading rapidly. And now auto plants are among the businesses reinstating face mask mandates.

Updated July 20, 2021 at 5:24 PM ET

Earlier this month, two dozen low-slung, open-cockpit race cars sped around the streets of Red Hook in Brooklyn.

A distinct high-pitched whizzing sound pierced the air, instead of the usual growl of revved-up race car engines. That's because these cars were powered entirely by batteries rather than gasoline.

Welcome to Formula E. It's like Formula 1, but it's all-electric.

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The European Union has a sweeping plan to tackle climate change, and that plan has the potential to reshape the continent's economy. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen made the case for it yesterday.

Oil prices have been rising steadily for months. You've probably noticed one big consequence — average gasoline prices have climbed to seven-year highs.

As early as last week, the expectations were that oil prices would either stabilize or rise gradually — until an OPEC+ meeting that was supposed to be routine ended in an unexpected impasse, with no agreement on what to do about oil production.

Now analysts are bracing for everything from a price spike to a price plunge. As millions of Americans hit the road again, there's just no certainty around where crude is headed.

United Airlines is placing a jumbo-sized order of narrow-body aircraft. The company is purchasing 270 new planes from Boeing and Airbus.

Last year, U.S. airlines were fighting to survive. Struggling in the depths of the pandemic, they received an infusion of cash and cheap loans from the U.S. government and, between aid packages, furloughed tens of thousands of workers.

Things have changed, clearly.

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Last month, Ford announced it would allow staff who have been working remotely to remain remote — at least some of the time — long after the pandemic is over.

"Must be nice for them," thought Marcie Pedraza, an electrician at a Ford plant in Chicago. Like many workers across the U.S., from factories to grocery stores, working from home has never been an option for her. And that presents a challenge for companies frantically rewriting their remote work policies: How do you make the change feel fair, when not all employees can benefit?

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Supply chain disruptions are taking a bite out of Apple, and it may make it harder to get your hands on that shiny new tablet or laptop.

Apple warns it can't make enough iPads and Macs to keep up with demand, thanks to the global shortage in semiconductors that has already disrupted production at almost every major car company, from Ford to VW.

Luca Maestri, Apple's chief financial officer, said late Wednesday that the lack of supply will cut into sales of both these products and lop off between $3 billion to $4 billion of its revenue in the next three months.

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More than a dozen auto plants across North America are on pause as companies like General Motors and Ford deal with ongoing shortages of computer chips and other supplies. NPR's Camila Domonoske has been following the story and joins us now. Hey, Camila.

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

The global production of electric vehicles is likely to increase at an astonishing pace. That means automakers need a lot more batteries, and all that demand could mean a bottleneck. NPR's Camila Domonoske reports.

After 40 long days of Lenten abstention, Easter is a time for indulgence. And for those of us who don't observe Lent — well, who can resist all those chocolate bunnies? It's a time for sweets, with or without an excuse.

But if you're looking for Easter indulgences that are a little more refined than Peeps and jelly beans, take a cue from renowned chef Thomas Keller, whose Bouchon restaurants are as famous for their baked goods as they are for their bistro fare.

Whether or not you want an electric vehicle in your driveway, you might soon spot one showing up on your curb.

All major delivery companies are starting to replace their gas-powered fleets with electric or low-emission vehicles, a switch that companies say will boost their bottom lines, while also fighting climate change and urban pollution.

UPS has placed an order for 10,000 electric delivery vehicles. Amazon is buying 100,000 from the start-up Rivian. DHL says zero-emission vehicles make up a fifth of its fleet, with more to come.

Updated at 12:10 p.m. ET

President-elect Joe Biden became President Biden at noon Eastern time, after he took the oath of office to become the nation's 46th commander in chief.

Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts conducted the swearing-in ceremony. Biden placed his hand on a family Bible.

Automakers around the world, from Japan to Texas, are grappling with a global shortage of computer chips.

On Wednesday, Michelle Laughlin realized something: Joe Biden would be the next president.

She had traveled from Nevada for the "Stop the Steal" rally hoping that a second term for President Trump was still possible. She sang patriotic songs as Trump supporters forcibly invaded the Capitol building. But as night fell, and the occupiers were pushed out and Congress resumed its operations, Laughlin saw with clarity where things are headed.

"I think they're going to certify Biden," she said, "and I think that's a terrible, terrible thing."

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The hottest trend on Wall Street this year is a SPAC. That's spelled S-P-A-C.

(SOUNDBITE OF MONTAGE)

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER #1: Constantly now - SPAC, SPAC, SPAC.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER #2: SPAC frenzy.

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

At the moment, it is impossible to buy an electric pickup. That's about to change, though. Automakers from Tesla and General Motors to Ford, Rivian and Lordstown, are all racing to bring them to market. NPR's Camila Domonoske reports.

How long does it take to charge an electric vehicle? The question is more complicated than it seems, and that's a challenge for the auto industry.

Vehicles have different battery sizes, and charge at different speeds. The same vehicle at different chargers will experience wildly varying charge times.

And no matter what charger a driver uses, an electric vehicle requires a change in habits. That may be an obstacle for automakers who need to persuade sometimes skeptical car buyers to try their first electric vehicle.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

OK. All morning, we're keeping you up to date on the election news, but we want to bring you a business story. General Motors reported a massive surge in earnings this week, and the company is not alone. After tough times earlier this year, the auto sector is coming back with a bang. Here's NPR's Camila Domonoske.

In 2008, Daimon Rhea moved to Utah to find work in the oil fields. He didn't have any experience — and he didn't need any.

"I was out there for two days and I had a job making about $30 an hour," he says. He started as a roughneck, doing hard physical labor on drilling sites, and easily pulled in double what he could have earned back home in California.

"I was able to turn my life around," Rhea says.

It wasn't easy — the hours were rough as a single dad — but Rhea was making great money.

In crowded cities, finding street parking can be a bit of a sport. In South Philly, it's almost a religion.

And like in many communities across America, a reliable wave of outrage greets proposals to reduce street parking — whether it's for bike lanes, bikeshare stands or green space.

But something strange happened this summer.

Just ask Randy Rucker, the chef and owner of River Twice on East Passyunk Ave. The restaurant placed tables in the street where as many as four cars used to squeeze in, in a neighborhood where every parking spot is prized.

2020 is shaping up to be an extraordinarily bad year for oil.

In the spring, pandemic lockdowns sent oil demand plummeting and markets into a tailspin. At one point, U.S. oil prices even turned negative for the first time in history.

But summer brought new optimism to the industry, with hopes rising for a controlled pandemic, a recovering economy and resurgent oil demand.

Orbital Insight CEO Jimmy Crawford has, quite literally, a bird's-eye view of the U.S. auto industry

Using satellite images as well as anonymous cellphone location data, Orbital Insight tracks a wide range of human behavior — including key economic indicators such as how many people report to work at auto plants.

"We can just look at the number of cars in the parking lot," he said.

This spring, when the industry entered an unprecedented shutdown because of the coronavirus pandemic, "there was just nobody there," Crawford said. "Just really skeleton crews."

Updated at 10 a.m. ET Wednesday

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has publicly called for businesses, individuals and governments to work together to fight climate change.

But a new analysis from the World Resources Institute, an environmental think tank, found that the Chamber didn't reflect that goal in its annual scorecard evaluating U.S. lawmakers' voting records.

Across America, buildings are opening back up — offices, schools, theaters, stores, restaurants — even as evidence mounts that the coronavirus can circulate through the air in a closed indoor space.

That means a lot of business owners and facility managers are calling up people like Dennis Knight, the founder of Whole Buildings Systems in Charleston, S.C., asking what they can do to make sure their building doesn't spread the virus.

A Georgia Republican who has said that Muslims do not belong in government and expressed her belief in the baseless conspiracy theory called QAnon has won her primary runoff and is all but certain to win a seat in the House of Representatives in November.

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