By on August 28, 2018

On Monday, former Fiat Chrysler Automobiles labor relations chief Alphons Iacobelli was sentenced to 66 months in federal prison for tax evasion and his key role in the corporate conspiracy to win favorable treatment from the UAW. Apparently, his plea agreement didn’t help him avoid jail time, but it was enough to shave a few years off his sentence.

Iacobelli pleaded guilty to federal charges of conspiring to violate the Labor Management Relations Act and for subscribing a false tax return in January. At the time, he was facing a maximum sentence that included eight years in prison. However, his $835,000 tax-restitution case is yet to be resolved and will be decided upon at a future date. Iacobelli will continue assisting with the investigation in the interim and, likely, beyond.  Read More >

By on May 8, 2018

Herbert Diess Jetta 2017

Volkswagen’s new chief executive officer, Herbert Diess, is believed to have met with the United States’ Department of Justice and Federal Bureau of Investigation last week to discuss the manufacturer’s emissions scandal. Details on the matter are scare at present, but the meeting would explain why the U.S. was willing to provide the CEO with a safe-passage guarantee.

While VW has previously stated its cooperation in various investigations, it declined to comment on Diess’ alleged visit to federal authorities. Read More >

By on March 31, 2018

passing lane left lane fast lane

Back in November, Oklahoma passed a law making it extra illegal to use the left lane on all divided highways for any purpose other than passing. This law is already in effect throughout most of the U.S., but enforcement is tricky and highly dependent on traffic flow. Plenty of overtaking occurs above the posted limit, meaning drivers maintaining that speed often feel justified in staying in the left-most lane.

To clarify, Oklahoma already had a law forbidding motorists from hogging lanes on multi-lane highways. The November edict simply tacked on a fine (typically around $230) and a notice from the highway patrol that it wouldn’t tolerate the behavior anymore. “Basically, in simplest terms is, if you’re not passing a vehicle or overtaking a vehicle and you’re in the left lane, you’re in the wrong lane to drive,” State Trooper Clayton Fredrickson explained last year.  Read More >

By on February 8, 2018

dallas squad car hammered

Earlier this week a man wielding a sledgehammer walked into the Dallas Police Department’s motorpool and started swinging. The city’s Police Association claims the man wailed on 12 cars at the Central Division station on South Hall Street in Deep Ellum at roughly 5:20 in the morning on February 4th.

The man, 58-year-old Gregory Simpson, apparently entered the police station parking lot through an unsecured gate and started hitting the first police car in sight. By the time he was stopped, he’d caused an estimated $4,900 in damage. Had he not focused primarily on windshields, that figure probably could have come up a bit. But, as breaking glass is one of life’s simple pleasures, his focus was understandable. Why he chose to vent his frustrations on parked squad cars is not, however. Read More >

By on January 24, 2018

lotus evora gt430

Most of us have been caught speeding at one time or another. As enthusiasts, it’s often difficult not to try and squeeze out every last ounce of joy from a fun-to-drive automobile when the path ahead is open. While we may think of corporate executives as soulless monsters, singularly focused on satisfying shareholders and lining their pockets, some of them are also people who enjoy driving cars.

Lotus CEO Jean-Marc Gales is definitely such a man, and his love of driving ended up getting him into trouble when he was nailed for traveling 102 mph in a 70 mph zone on England’s A11 expressway. While the offense occurred roughly a year ago, his court date was yesterday. With eight points already on his license (most of which also came from speeding violations), things looked bleak for Gales, at least until his lawyer managed the most brilliant defense in traffic court history — claiming that it was vital the CEO not lose the ability to test drive new models.

It worked.  Read More >

By on January 23, 2018

Uaw-Logos

Former Fiat Chrysler labor relations chief Alphons Iacobelli pleaded guilty to two of seven charges relating to his role in a plan to divert more than $4.5 million in training center funds to union and company officials on Monday. As part of a plea deal with federal authorities, Iacobelli provided information regarding confidential retirement offers and a former union vice president being groomed to support company initiatives.

In an admission that he and other FCA employees paid various senior UAW officials over $1.5 million in an effort to “obtain benefits, concessions, and advantages for FCA in the negotiation, implementation, and administration,” Iacobelli is now helping map the deepening mire that is the FCA-UAW training center scandal. Read More >

By on December 12, 2017

car crime theft

Florida lawmakers are pushing a new bill that would make it illegal to have your car stolen if you haven’t bothered to take the keys out of the ignition. While accidentally prepping a car for prospective thieves is easily one of the dumbest things you can do, making it illegal to leave it running while you pop in to buy a pack of gum sets us up for a nice slippery slope argument.

Last week, State Representative Wengay Newton and Senator Perry Thurston introduced matching proposals (House Bill 927 and Senate Bill 1112) that would make leaving your car unattended without stopping the engine, locking the ignition, and removing the key a second-degree misdemeanor. Under the Florida statute, the crime would be punishable with a $500 fine and up to 60 days in jail. Read More >

By on November 26, 2017

tesla model x, Image: Tesla Motors

A quartet of suspected baddies were arrested on Friday after being caught with four vehicles believed to be stolen from a Tesla dealership in Salt Lake City. While an automotive theft ring isn’t anything special, the way in which this particular incident unfolded is beyond strange.

According to South Salt Lake police detective Gary Keller, the incident began around 1 a.m. when a Highway Patrol trooper conducting a traffic stop near the dealership noticed a sparkly new Tesla vehicle stop behind his squad car. Smelling something fishy, the patrol trooper assumed the driver wasn’t the owner of the car and called for local backup as he conducted another stop.

Keller said the man had a bag of keys on his person and told police he had come to return the vehicle to the dealership. “I don’t know if he had a guilt complex or whatever, but he claimed his name was Tesla and once [police] started talking to him, he didn’t want to talk to police; he wanted an attorney,” Keller explained. Read More >

By on September 13, 2017

Pontiac Silverdome in 2006

Dozens of recalled Volkswagen diesels have vanished from the Silverdome parking lot in Pontiac, Michigan, over past last week. The stadium was once home to the Detroit Lions and monster truck rallies. Now defunct, it has been converted into a makeshift purgatory for thousands of emission-cheating VW and Audi-branded autos waiting to be fixed and resold.

Michigan authorities are working with out-of-state police to track down over 60 stolen vehicles. Roughly a dozen of the missing cars were located at an auction lot in Clarksville, Indiana, last Friday. Those recovered units have laid the groundwork for how the police are handling the investigation.  Read More >

By on September 12, 2017

irmatireiron

We live in polarized times, when acknowledging the existence of one group of evil people is considered to be a defense of a second group of evil people that the first group of bad actors consider their enemies. Some folks have trouble holding the concept that it is possible to despise both sides of a controversy, without having to identify with this or that tribe. I dislike having to use caveats in my writing but let me say at the outset that I think that people and businesses should not unduly take advantage of situations during natural disasters and other catastrophes.

We’ve seen a lot of inspirational stories out of Texas and Florida in the literal wake of two mammoth storms. We’ve also seen some price gouging and looting. Catastrophes bring out the worst and best in both those that are directly affected, and in those who observe from afar.

A couple of Florida car dealers, in Hollywood and further north in Tallahassee, decided to shelter their inventories from Hurricane Irma in public parking structures made available to residents trying to keep their personal vehicles above flood waters (and somewhat protected from flying debris). The dealers may have protected their vehicles from Irma, but that didn’t protect them from a storm of bad publicity. Every car those dealers parked in those structures meant someone’s daily driver couldn’t be saved from the maelstrom. Read More >

By on May 31, 2017

Image: Capture from YouTube

In a classic case of fight-or-flight response, a Milwaukee woman named Melissa Smith has just filled up her Subaru Outback and realizes there’s a man on the driver’s side about to steal her off-roading vehicle. Rather than let the thief drive off with her ride, she takes action. Immediately jumping up onto the hood, Melissa stares the criminal right in the eyes. According to an interview the victim provided to various news outlets, the thief laughed in her face and turned the wipers on, in an attempt to brush her off like mere precipitation. That didn’t work. She grabs onto the wipers for dear life. Then in two successive attempts, the would-be thief accelerates quickly and brakes, trying to shake Ms. Smith from the hood.

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 February 7, 2017

Faraday Future FF 91 rear

Faraday Future’s preeminence in bad publicity has been unsurpassed as of late. It has amassed legal disputes almost as fast as I can report them, so another lawsuit might seem par for the course — until you realize it’s for an almost trifling amount over a mismanaged squabble surrounding the company’s domain name.

A complaint was filed against the automotive startup in San Francisco County Superior Court on November 18th of last year by a business acting as a broker for obtaining the company’s current domain name. The document outlines a $210,000 claim against Faraday for neglecting to remunerate Domains Cable for services that resulted in the acquisition of FF.com.  Read More >

By on January 19, 2017

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

As far as anyone knows, former Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn spent the last 16 months on a desert island.

After resigning his post in the turbulent days after the diesel emissions scandal went public, Winterkorn stayed out of the spotlight, shying from any public appearances. That is, until now. As indictments land in executives’ laps and top brass grow wary of leaving the country, Winterkorn showed his face to a parliamentary committee in Berlin. Read More >

By on December 8, 2016

porsche 550 rear emblem

European Union officials are threatening to sue four countries, including Germany and Britain, for permitting Volkswagen AG to sell vehicles that were designed to cheat on emissions tests. The union has faced growing criticism for taking a more laissez-faire approach to handling the issue while the United States forced the company to settle $15 billion in legal claims.

Meanwhile, German regulators are looking into whether Porsche intentionally manipulated fuel economy data on its vehicles — creating a potential subplot in Volkswagen’s never-ending emissions-cheating scandal.
Read More >

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