Camila Domonoske

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Autumn is here. There's a nip in the air. BJ Leiderman writes our theme music. And soon, you might turn on your heater for the first time this year, but fuel prices are already rising. NPR's Camila Domonoske joins us now. Camila, thanks so much for being with us.

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.

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.

A semiconductor shortage is keeping car production low, and that means dealers have fewer new vehicles to sell. The crunch has pushed up prices for both new and used cars, and caused frustration for some would-be car shoppers.

Have you tried to buy a car during this unusual market — successfully or otherwise? NPR's Business Desk would love to hear about your experience.

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."

Elon Musk has gotten a lot of things wrong. He's blown deadlines, pissed off regulators, driven away talented employees, and made unfulfilled promises that ran the gamut from unrealistic to absurd.

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Today at the White House, President Biden stood in front of a display of electric pickup trucks and SUVs, and he said this.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

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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.

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