By on October 11, 2017

uber volvo

Uber Technologies is about to be probed to a degree that would make even the most compliant alien abductee blush. The company is now looking at a minimum of five criminal investigations from the U.S. Justice Department regarding claims of bribes, illicit software usage, unfair marketing practices, corporate espionage, questionable pricing strategies, and theft of a competitor’s intellectual property.

The ride-hailing firm is also involved in dozens of lawsuits from from customers and employees — and one very public suit with autonomous research rival Waymo. But Uber’s skirting of the law was what made it so profitable to begin with. Its take-no-prisoners attitude may have been the thing that ultimately ousted founder and CEO Travis Kalanick and severely tarnished its corporate image, but it’s also an aspect that ensure its success. Still, nobody likes learning how the sausage is made and every look behind Uber’s curtain revealed another fresh horror the press couldn’t resist mentioning — including yours truly. (Read More…)

By on October 6, 2017

matrix S 2009

On Thursday, a U.S. judge dismissed the criminal charges against Toyota Motor Corp after the automaker completed a mandated three years of probationary monitoring. As part of its $1.2 billion settlement, where it admitted to intentionally misleading the public over dangerous unintended acceleration and building vehicles with faulty parts, Toyota was assigned former U.S. attorney David Kelley as an independent safety monitor.

“It is a long road ahead,” he said upon his appointment in 2014. “If you look at the deferred prosecution agreement there is a lot of ground to cover.”

The agreement gave Kelley sweeping powers to hire staff and review all of Toyota’s policies and operating procedures for communicating safety issues internally and to regulators. Kelley and his staff were required to be payed standard consulting fees and rates by Toyota, but this will be their last week on the job. (Read More…)

By on September 1, 2017

tesla factory fremont, Image: Tesla Motors

The National Labor Relations Board has filed an official complaint against Tesla Motors, saying the company violated workers’ rights by suppressing their efforts to unionize.

While automakers hoping to keep employees from joining a union is nothing new, the NLRB’s issue focuses around an obligatory confidentiality agreement that may have prohibited them from openly discussing their working conditions and safety concerns at the company’s facility in Fremont, California. The agency also investigated allegations from the workers that Tesla intimidated and harassed them, which would be a violation of workers’ rights under federal labor law.

Meanwhile, Tesla has decided not to take any of this sitting down. The electric automaker has issued a scathing response to the complaint by giving the United Auto Workers a piece of its mind.
(Read More…)

By on July 31, 2017

lynk-and-co-01-sedan

Ford Motor Company is finally challenging Geely Holding Group’s trademark application for the Lynk & Co automotive moniker. We’ve been waiting on this one for a while and are a little curious as to why it took Ford so long to realize the Geely-backed brand sounded so similar to Lincoln Motor Company.

While Chinese manufacturers enjoy a rich history of borrowing designs and names from competing automakers, the brunt of their more brazen attempts at thievery exist in the past — probably because they traditionally end up in court. Geely also has the benefit of plausible deniability since the Lynk name is supposed to hint at the vehicle’s unparalleled level of connectivity. It would be reasonable to assume this was a big coincidence.

Still, even if that is the case, nothing is going to halt the corporate litigation train now that it has left Ford Station. (Read More…)

By on June 13, 2017

uber volvo

Travis Kalanick, Uber’s chief executive and all-star pariah, will take a leave of absence from the ride-hailing company, according to an internal memo sent to employees. The only question this raises is: why did it take him this long? Uber has been the subject of so much negative publicity in 2017, much of it circulating around Kalanick himself, that the CEO had dozens of primo opportunities to step down. Why wait until the fun-in-the-sun summer months to go on break?

The company email stated Kalanick needed time to grieve for his recently deceased mother, who passed away in May. It’s also been an ugly year for the CEO from a business perspective, who previously stated he would “get help” to become a better boss.

While Travis is on his somber vacation, sweeping corporate changes are taking place inside Uber. After being outed for its toxic workplace environment, problems with discrimination, and rampant allegations of sexual harassment, a change had to be made. However, some of them are downright laughable.  (Read More…)

By on May 31, 2017

Anthony Levandowski at MCE 2016, Image: Transport Topics/Flickr

Uber Technologies Inc. has fired Anthony Levandowski, the engineer at the center of the company’s legal battle with Google and Alphabet’s self-driving division Waymo. The company confirmed the departure Tuesday, after weeks of Levandowski remaining silent as the court attempted to make sense of what had taken place between the two companies (as well as Uber’s own internal investigation).

The Waymo’s lawsuit alleges Levandowski stole proprietary information relating to their self-driving vehicles, which he then handed to Uber. In May, U.S. District Judge William Alsup stated that he believed there was evidence to suggest Uber had gained trade secrets belonging to Google and that Levandowski should be removed from his lead engineering role. However, the ride-sharing firm claims he was taken off autonomous development in April.  (Read More…)

By on May 24, 2017

Uber ride, Image: Jason Tester Guerrilla Futures/Flickr

Uber has messed up — again. The ride-hailing company admitted to shortchanging New York City drivers to the tune of tens of millions of dollars due to miscalculated payments. It’s the second time Uber has been caught mishandling payroll, with the latest fiasco resembling Richard Pryor’s banking scheme from Superman III.

In its agreement with drivers, Uber is supposed to calculate its own percentage after taxes and other fees. However, it ended up calculating its New York commissions on total cost, including those expenditures. This has resulted in NY-based drivers receiving slightly lower fares ever since the November 2014 agreement. It doesn’t amount to much per fare but, when compounded by several thousand drivers and a handful of years, it adds up to millions. Regardless of how unintentional the error may or may not have been, the affected drivers are incredibly displeased.  (Read More…)

By on May 15, 2017

VW logo

The National Labor Relations Board has again accused Volkswagen of unfair labor practices, stating the automaker increased health insurance premiums and altered working hours of employees who voted for union representation at its Chattanooga, Tennessee factory.

The facility — VW’s only U.S. assembly plant — produces the Passat and new Atlas SUV. A small portion of skilled-trade employees voted in 2015 to be represented by the United Auto Workers, but VW is claiming they shouldn’t speak for the entire workforce.

However, the NLRB says the UAW’s collective-bargaining rights for the select workers who maintain the plant’s automated machinery can’t be superseded by the federal appeals court case.

“Wages, hours, and other terms and conditions of employment of the Unit … are mandatory subjects for the purposes of collective bargaining,” reads the complaint. (Read More…)

By on March 27, 2017

autonomous testing tesla

Every time we write an article about autonomous vehicles, our comments section is quickly populated with discourse over how litigation would be handled in the event of a crash. Who do you sue?

You can’t fault the driver, because a truly self-driving car takes them out of the equation. Suing the manufacturer doesn’t work because, assuming the system functions properly, they’re still saving lives and shouldering all of the risk would discourage companies from bothering to pursue the technology.

However, autonomous accidents will happen and someone is inevitably going to appear in a courtroom. The justice system has to decide how that will be handled, but Automotive News’ Katie Burke has an interesting solution. It relates to how the United States deals with legal actions involving vaccinations.

(Read More…)

By on February 7, 2017

Volkswagen VW Badge Emblem Logo

Volkswagen AG has announced a new U.S. unit that will manage its hefty court-mandated investments in zero-emission vehicle infrastructure and green awareness programs.

Electrify America LLC, located in Reston, Virginia, is supposed to be entirely separate from Volkswagen Group’s automotive brands and owned as a subsidiary of VW of America. It will oversee $2 billion in initiatives to promote the use of zero emissions vehicles in the U.S. over the next ten years as part of VW’s diesel emissions settlement. (Read More…)

By on January 19, 2017

Texting and Driving

Apple is facing a legal battle in California for neglecting to implement technology that would prevent iPhone owners from texting behind the wheel.

Filed on Tuesday in Los Angeles County Superior Court, the class-action suit alleges that Apple has possessed the ability to disable texting since 2008, and was granted a patent on it by U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in 2014. The lawsuit wants the company to stop all iPhone sales until it installs safety-oriented software on all devices — new and old — via an update.  (Read More…)

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