Camila Domonoske

The car-rental giant Hertz is making an audacious bet on electric vehicles, purchasing 100,000 battery-powered vehicles from Tesla.

By the end of next year, electric vehicles would make up more than 20% of Hertz's global fleet. That's a huge percentage, considering that in most of the world, electric vehicles represent less than 3% of new car sales.

The purchases will be made up of the Tesla Model 3, a sedan that is the cheapest vehicle currently available from the electric carmaker.

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.

Leaded gasoline's century-long reign of destruction is over.

The final holdout, Algeria, used up the last of its stockpile of leaded gasoline in July. That's according to the U.N. Environment Programme, which has spent 19 years trying to eliminate leaded gasoline around the globe.

"The successful enforcement of the ban on leaded petrol is a huge milestone for global health and our environment," Inger Andersen, UNEP's executive director, said Monday.

Dave Samuelson is totally thrilled with his new job driving a fuel truck to deliver gasoline to stations around Chattanooga, Tenn.

He gets to go home to his farm every night, unlike long-haul trucking where you can drive for days. That means he can feed his goats. He can't complain about the pay — especially since he got a nearly 40% pay increase this year.

And he certainly loves how easy it is to find work right now. If you have the right kind of commercial driver's license, he says, "Good lord ... you can write your own ticket."

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A MARTINEZ, HOST:

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.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

SACHA PFEIFFER, HOST:

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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