By on January 13, 2017

800px-wolfsburg_vw-werk

After a Volkswagen official was collared in Miami while on vacation, other top company officials have been warned to stay close to home.

Oliver Schmidt, who allegedly lied to environmental regulators to cover up VW’s emissions cheating, was arrested by FBI agents Saturday while returning home from a Cuban holiday. According to Reuters, Schmidt, one of six former or current VW managers indicted on multiple charges this week, could face up to 169 years in a U.S. prison if found guilty.

After the FBI’s lucky airport break, a new report suggests top brass in Wolfsburg are feeling penned in. Kiss that winter vacay goodbye. (Read More…)

By on January 13, 2017

2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit, Image: FCA

Well known as a leading voice in the fight against climate change and a host of other progressive issues, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman now has Fiat Chrysler Automobiles in his sights.

After yesterday’s bombshell announcement from the Environmental Protection Agency, in which the regulator accused FCA of violating federal laws with its 3.0-liter diesel Jeep and Ram models, Scheiderman revealed that his office will investigate the automaker.

A noted environmental attack dog, Schneiderman isn’t the guy you want on your tail. (Read More…)

By on January 11, 2017

Volkswagen TDI

The United States has now laid charges against six former or current Volkswagen officials for their role in the diesel emissions scandal.

A federal grand jury in the Eastern District of Michigan returned an indictment today, fingering the execs for playing key roles in a decade-long conspiracy to deceive the U.S. government and public. While five of the men live in Germany, one man — Oliver Schmidt, former head of VW’s regulatory compliance department — was nabbed by the FBI in a Miami airport on Saturday while attempting to return to Germany.

As the charges were handed down, the embattled automaker pleaded guilty to three criminal federal counts and agreed to pay $4.3 billion in criminal and civil penalties. (Read More…)

By on January 9, 2017

Volkswagen TDI

A Volkswagen executive who allegedly spent more than a year throwing up smoke screens around the emissions-cheating automaker has been arrested in sunny Florida.

Oliver Schmidt, a former top emissions compliance manager assigned to the U.S., ran defense for the company in the long run-up to the diesel revelations. As allegations mounted and regulators began asking questions, Schmidt and other company officials blamed phony technical problems for the sky-high emissions levels seen during real-world testing.

According to the New York Times, Schmidt, a German national, was nabbed on Saturday and charged by the FBI with conspiracy to defraud the U.S.  (Read More…)

By on January 6, 2017

lawsuit

The first person sentenced in the sprawling Volkswagen emissions scandal is headed to jail in South Korea, but the man who helped design the defeat smog-spewing engines will have to wait for his punishment.

Reuters reports an executive of VW’s South Korean division was handed a sentence of one year, six months today for his side-role in the diesel deception. Meanwhile, a German engineer who was the first employee charged in the scandal will cool his heels a little while longer.

It seems he’s just too useful. (Read More…)

By on January 5, 2017

kennedy_expressway_and_metra

There’s no shortage of ink spilled about the sky-high murder rate in Chicago, but the Windy City’s most overlooked crime scene isn’t a particular neighborhood or address. It’s the freeway.

In a year where Chicago homicides hit a 20-year high (762, up 57 percent from 2015), shootings on the city’s freeways topped all previous tallies. The city blames the increasing roadway bloodshed on rising gang violence, but the danger to motorists seems likely to rise if authorities can’t figure out a way to stamp out the problem. (Read More…)

By on December 30, 2016

coffee while driving (bluemini/Flickr)

Maybe there is common sense to be found in California.

A driver who was charged for driving under the influence — even though a blood test revealed only caffeine — won’t have to enter a courtroom to plead his innocence. That, a gas station attendant takes the Florida Woman meme and runs with it (into another woman’s car), and Canadian heavy truck drivers just refuse to lower their beds while on the highway. (Read More…)

By on December 29, 2016

2016 Land Rover Range Rover Sport

Guam, besides having the highest per-capita Spam consumption in the world (16 tins per person, on average), is also home to a recently uncovered fraud scheme that placed high-end vehicles in the driveways of island residents.

On paper, anyway. The unsuspecting residents — over 50 of them, authorities say — had no idea their names were placed next to luxury SUV registrations in the Department of Motor Vehicles database. (Read More…)

By on December 16, 2016

Jetta TDI 2015

Have you ever bought a secondhand car, only to find the previous owner forgot his or her favorite CD in the stereo? Well, that didn’t happen to a Kentucky man.

That Volkswagen owner’s discovery is just one of the weird news stories arising from a polar vortex-plagued world. Elsewhere, officials warn of mammal tongue baths, and a politician practices bad automotive PR. (Read More…)

By on December 15, 2016

money (401(k) 2012/Flickr)

For a company that prides itself on clean performance, a massive lawsuit and public claims of less-than-advertised power wasn’t great PR.

Tesla just swept an annoying bit of litigation into the dustbin of history by promising a different kind of green to 126 Norwegian owners, all the while claiming it did nothing wrong. (Read More…)

By on November 18, 2016

2011 Ford Mustang GT

Being topographically challenged (for the most part), Oklahoma’s highways serve as a great staging ground to find out exactly what your tricked-out Mustang can do. A young man and his police escorts recently discovered this, and even the cops walked away impressed.

Angry, but impressed.

That, and it’s the horniest time of the year for our many venison-laden friends of the forest, which means impressive roadway acrobatics and unplanned feasts…after the break. (Read More…)

By on October 25, 2016

money (401(k) 2012/Flickr)

Is there something in diesel fuel that makes Volkswagen owners feel they’re extra, extra special? They’re clearly a hard bunch to please, as the judge overseeing the automaker’s U.S. diesel emissions settlement is tired of hearing their demands for more, more, more.

After a year of wrangling, District Court Judge Charles Breyer has approved the $14.7 billion deal, setting in stone the buyback program and cash settlements to owners and U.S. regulators. Sure, the company’s diesel vehicles pump out up to 40 cars’ worth of pollution each, but how much cash are owners expecting to collect? (Read More…)

By on October 4, 2016

Tesla HQ

A materials engineer fired by Tesla Motors earlier this year is suing the automaker, claiming that his age led to the dismissal.

The discrimination suit filed by Thomas Flessner, 69, paints a picture of a Logan’s Run-like corporate atmosphere that values youth above all else, Fusion reports. It’s the latest in a steady stream of complaints about the youth-focused culture within the tech industry. (Read More…)

By on September 27, 2016

Money (Frankleleon/Flickr)

How much can we chop away while keeping the body alive?

The U.S. Justice Department’s plans for Volkswagen’s criminal fine is like a horror movie, only with corporate finances playing the role of a writhing human subject.

According to two sources close to the negotiations, the DOJ wants to extract as much monetary lifeblood from the automaker as possible, while keeping the company afloat, Bloomberg reports. (Read More…)

By on September 26, 2016

Martin Winterkorn, Image: Volkswagen AG [CC BY 3.0]/Wikimedia Commons

After German media reported his suspension last week, Audi announced today technical development boss Stefan Knirsch is stepping down and leaving the automaker.

The executive, who sat on Audi’s management board, found himself caught up in the investigation surrounding Volkswagen’s diesel emissions scandal. Meanwhile, a German newspaper claims that newly discovered documents show ex-Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn mislead U.S. authorities before the scandal broke. (Read More…)

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