SEC Brushes Off Elon Musk's Tweet, Signs Off on Original Settlement

Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s brilliant idea to call the Securities and Exchange Commission the “Shortseller Enrichment Commission” in a recent tweet did not land the impulsive executive in any additional hot water. The SEC, which decided that removing Musk from the chairman’s position and fining both him and the company $20 million was sufficient punishment for the August 7th “funding secured” tweet, still thinks it’s an appropriate settlement.

The two sides came together in agreement on Thursday, signing off on the settlement and submitting it to a judge.

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Guilt-tripping Radar Speed Signs Could Soon Read Your Plate

Modern society seems to be divided into two camps — those who say, “If you aren’t doing anything wrong, why would you have a problem with [expanded government power A]?” and those who drop their copy of Reason in horror as each new measure designed to make society “safer” erodes their perceived freedom just a little bit more.

The former group will cheer this news, though the latter camp will surely decry our steeper descent into a Surveillance State. Those annoying roadside signs that flash your current speed might soon record your plate number.

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Jailed Audi CEO Rupert Stadler Cut Loose From Company

Rupert Stadler, now former CEO of Audi, saw his contract with Volkswagen Group terminated on Tuesday, thus allowing the automaker to distance itself from a PR-squashing reminder of its disastrous diesel emissions fiasco.

Serving as Audi AG’s CEO since 2010, Stadler’s June arrest on suspicion of interference in an ongoing German fraud investigation pushed an interim CEO into the top chair. It was the highest profile arrest thus far in the diesel emissions scandal. As investigators continue probing his potential involvement in the diesel fraud, the jailed Stadler also gives up his seat on VW’s management board, effective immediately.

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Video: Tesla Model 3 Pulled Over For Having a 'Computer' Attached to the Dash

Saying the Tesla Model 3’s interior is polarizing would be a massive understatement. While some absolutely love the minimalist design and singular, tablet-like interface, others criticize it for being too barren to be considered interesting. The vehicle also saw some blowback over its centrally mounted 15-inch display, which, for several reasons, can serve as a potential distraction to drivers.

In fact, it’s so big that one Washington resident found himself pulled over by a motorcycle cop for having what was presumed to be a computer attached to his dashboard.

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As Tesla Board Circles the Wagons, Report Claims Musk Backed Out of SEC Settlement

Yesterday’s end-of-day fraud lawsuit filed against Tesla CEO Elon Musk by the Securities and Exchange Commission needn’t have happened, CNBC reports. The CEO and founder turned down a settlement deal that would have seen him pay a “nominal” fine and remove himself as chairman, sources claim. Instead, Musk did what he does best. He went his own way, greatly increasing risk both to himself and his company.

Still, Tesla’s board stands by its man, releasing a statement late Thursday to this effect. According to Bob Lutz, outspoken industry titan, the board should have told Musk to hit the bricks.

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Forget the British Diver, Here's Real Trouble - SEC Hits Elon Musk With Fraud Suit

Documents filed in a Manhattan federal court Thursday reveal the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is suing Tesla CEO Elon Musk for fraud. The SEC opened an investigation into Musk after the CEO fatefully tweeted his intent to take the company private. “Funding secured,” Musk wrote in the August 7th tweet.

The go-private plan quickly fell apart. In the lawsuit, published by Bloomberg, the SEC accuses Musk of fabricating the claim made to 22 million social media followers, many of them investors.

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Make Some Noise: Chevrolet's New Low-speed EV Warning Sound Is Either Soothing or Ominous

To this author’s ears, it’s a noise that seems to herald the arrival of the spaceships coming to take all of the world’s children to a new home in the sun. Chevrolet claims it’s supposed to feel more natural and less intrusive. Whatever your take, the new low-speed warning noise is a necessary addition to the 2019 Volt — looming federal guidelines demand it.

Expect to hear a different kind of tonal landscape once electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids make up a larger portion of the teeming vehicle masses. Hear for yourself:

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With Criminal Case Dismissed, General Motors' Ignition Switch Fiasco Nears An End

Four years after launching a massive, incredibly delayed recall aimed at preventing further deaths from its faulty ignition switches, General Motors freed itself from a criminal case launched in the scandal’s wake.

Earlier this week, federal prosecutors in New York wrote U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan, compelling him to dismiss the case. Nathan approved the request, lifting GM free of the caudron. The rationale for dismissing the two criminal charges — concealing evidence from federal officials and wire fraud — comes down to good behavior on GM’s part, something that certainly doesn’t describe its past actions.

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All the Press: Tesla the Target of Criminal Probe, Report Claims

What a week it’s shaping up to be for Tesla CEO Elon Musk. Interestingly, if this latest report proves true, we can pin the blame for all of Musk’s misfortune over the past 24 hours on the presence of social media, and his tendency to overuse it.

According to Bloomberg, the U.S. Justice Department has opened a fraud investigation into Musk’s infamous “funding secured” tweet — the online message that kicked off a strange journey that ultimately went nowhere.

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Local Man Finally Hit With Libel Suit

A Silicon Valley resident had a big day yesterday. After finally revealing the real, live, human being he plans to stuff on top of a rocket for a journey around the moon, this same resident also received notice of a lawsuit filed against him. Big, big day.

What’s amazing about Vernon Unsworth’s libel suit is how completely avoidable it was. However, as we’re dealing with the mind of Tesla CEO Elon Musk here, the suit — which accuses Musk of libel, assault, and slander — seemed from the outset to be unavoidable. This is a man who goaded the litigant to sue even after apologizing for calling a man he’s never met a “pedo” on Twitter. Musk then forgot all about the apologies and doubled down on the unsubstantiated claim, even as Unsworth secured legal representation.

And why? Unsworth helped rescue a Thai soccer team from a flooded cave but had the nerve to criticise Musk’s homemade submarine, which rescuers never employed in the cave extraction. It’s enough to make one believe that only a certain type of personality makes it big in Silicon Valley.

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Feds Wade Into Fiat Chrysler-Mahindra Spat, Promise to Get to Bottom of Roxor Affair

A decade-old document signed by Indian automaker Mahindra & Mahindra and Chrysler Group LLC will be at the center of an investigation by the U.S. International Trade Commission.

Announced Tuesday and reported by Reuters, the feds will look into the patent dispute that erupted when Mahindra began importing the very Jeep-like Roxor all-terrain vehicle into the United States. FCA claimed the Roxor looks too much like the classic Jeep CJ line, predecessor to the Wrangler, and filed an intellectual property complaint to the ITC. Nuh uh — we had a deal, Mahindra responded.

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Sacked: Dealerships Owned By Former NFL Linebackers Face Legal Action

The financial chicanery of a few automotive dealerships continues apace, with a group of Nissan and Hyundai stores finding themselves in several million dollars’ worth of hot water.

Reps for the captive finance arms of those two brands allege that five dealerships owned by auto retail veteran Michael Saporito and former NFL linebackers Jessie Armstead and Antonio Pierce sold nearly $10.5 million worth of vehicles out of trust. Nearly a hundred machines are allegedly missing, as well.

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Elon Musk Just Might Get His Libel Suit Wish

Tesla CEO Elon Musk, the executive with a “Don’t Hold Back” sticker placed atop every one of his phone and computer screens, didn’t need to poke the bear last night. It seems there’s already a libel suit being loaded into the chamber, ready to fire in his direction.

In a Twitter exchange he could easily have avoided by tidying up around the house, preparing a wholesome snack, getting this owner the repairs he’s been waiting six months for, or perhaps reading one of Lee Iacocca or Bob Lutz’s books, Musk suggested, once again, that a British diver he’s already apologized to is a pedophile, again without offering evidence.

Asking why Vernon Unsworth hasn’t filed a lawsuit against him, Musk then practically dared the cave rescuer to sue. He’ll probably get his wish, especially after last night’s antics.

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Mahindra to Fiat Chrysler: Nah, We're Selling Our Little Jeepy-Jeep Thing

There’s an Indo-Italian-American battle heating up in Michigan. Mahindra and Mahindra, maker of the absolutely adorable, U.S.-built Roxor ATV, is fighting back against Fiat Chrysler’s efforts to squash the little all-terrain vehicle’s future in this country.

FCA’s beef is this: the generously proportioned ATV, which is not road legal here (but is in India), bears a striking resemblance to a classic Jeep CJ7. At the beginning of the month, the automaker filed a complaint with the U.S. International Trade Commission in an bid to stop the importation of Roxor parts to the company’s Michigan factory.

Not gonna happen, Mahindra says. You saw our grille and you gave it the thumbs up.

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Rear-end Collision Costs Toyota $242 Million

After deliberating eight hours, a Texas jury ordered Toyota to pay $242.1 million to compensate a Dallas family involved in a 2016 rear-end collision that seriously injured two children.

The children, aged 3 and 5, were rear-seat occupants in a 2002 Lexus ES300 driven by parents Benjamin and Kristi Reavis on Dallas’ North Central Expressway. While stopped in traffic, a Honda Pilot collided with the rear of the car at a high rate of speed, causing the front seatbacks to collapse.

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Documents Show Volkswagen CEO Diess Knew About Illegal Devices

Unsealed documents from a German prosecutor’s office shed light on current Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess’ knowledge of the costly diesel emissions scandal. Back in late July, 2015, Diess, having just taken the helm of the VW brand after arriving from BMW, sat in on a fateful meeting, German magazine Der Spiegel reports.

It seems that, for the executives at that table, the key to avoiding prosecution depends on how dumb they can claim to be.

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SEC Gets Serious in Tesla Going-private Probe, Issues Subpoenas: Report

While the U.S. and now Canada enjoy carrying out international diplomacy via tweet, the business world lays out a few ground rules. If you’re the head of a multi-billion dollar publicly traded company, maybe it’s best to not announce your intention to take the company private — while stating there’s funding on hand to pull it off — in a tweetstorm, especially if there aren’t details to back it up. Dry, boring, but concise media releases or regulatory filings alerting shareholders usually do the trick.

After looking into Tesla’s going-private plan, announced August 7th by CEO Elon Musk over Twitter, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission now wants hard answers. While it might be willing to overlook the tweet (Musk, a prolific tweeter, previously told investors that announcements could happen this way), the SEC wants Musk to back up his “funding secured” claim. What person, persons, or entity made this deal possible?

Maybe a round of subpoenas will clear things up.

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Playing With Numbers: Texas Dealer Accused of Major Fraud

The Reagor Dykes Auto Group was formed in 2006 after Bart Reagor, shown above, teamed up with a business partner to create a company that now eclipses half a billion dollars in annual sales. This is accomplished through a myriad of manufacturer franchises ranging from Ford to Chevy to Toyota, not to mention its dozen or so rooftops dealing solely in used cars.

Now, the company is facing allegations of major financial chicanery. In court documents filed last week, Ford Motor Company accuses Reagor Dykes of running one of the “largest floor-plan financing frauds in the history of the United States.”

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License, Registration, and Saliva, Please: Critics Cry Foul Over 'DUID' Swab Test

As jurisdictions across the continent prepare to legalize the consumption of marijuana, assuming they haven’t already, the methods of testing for drug-impaired driving haven’t advanced quite as rapidly as legislation.

While breathalyzers are a mainstay of the law enforcement toolkit, getting an accurate reading of just how impaired a drug-using driver really is isn’t an exact science — despite some claims to the contrary. Blood tests for THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, are often misleading. Actual impairment really comes down to the user, not the blood reading. A driver’s buzz could easily have worn off long before getting behind the wheel, despite the elevated presence of THC in their bloodstream.

Apparently, demands for better testing is something the Colorado Department of Transportation hears at meeting after meeting.

North of the border, the entire country of Canada goes weed-legal this fall, and the likely method of detecting DUID (driving under the influence of drugs) is already coming under fire.

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Fiat Chrysler's Not Happy With Mahindra's Jeep Lookalike ATV

Imitation, they say, is the sincerest form of flattery, but Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is none too pleased with an Indian automaker’s plan to foist a Jeep CJ-like all-terrain vehicle on the United States market.

Mahindra & Mahindra’s Roxor is a larger ATV with a conventional layout and appearance that splits the difference between brush-busting fare from Polaris, et al, and road-legal off-roaders like the Jeep Wrangler. There’s a 2.5-liter inline-four diesel up front, and drivers put the power to all four wheels via an honest-to-goodness five-speed manual transmission. Oh, and it really, really looks like a Jeep CJ. We’re gaga over them.

FCA sure isn’t.

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A New Headache for Automakers: Train Robberies

Let’s face it: there’s few things more romantic than trains, and robberies of said trains have formed the backbone of great novels and films for over a century. The modern reality is not quite Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, however. It’s impoverished and not quite moral bandits piling rocks onto tracks in a bid to derail a train, then making off with whatever they can sell. No dynamite and bank vaults here.

In Mexico, the rising popularity of such robberies is proving an expensive headache for automakers shipping cars from Mexican assembly plants.

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A Foul Wind Blows… From the Toyota Camry's Dash Vents, Lawsuit Claims

Toyota might have another stinky legal problem on its hands. A proposed class-action lawsuit filed in the US. District Court for the Southern District of Florida claims the automaker committed fraud by failing to properly address an HVAC problem that leaves Camry cabins in an unpleasantly scented state.

Condensation is the culprit in this issue, though the plaintiffs accuse Toyota of covering up the fact that it doesn’t have a solution.

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Movin' Money: Ex-Volkswagen CEO's Transfers Raise Investigators' Eyebrows

Large money transfers initiated by former Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn early last year have German investigators wondering if the executive may have believed a criminal charge was incoming.

Already indicted in the U.S. on fraud charges stemming from the company’s diesel emissions scandal, Winterkorn (seen above with Yoko Ono) remains under a cloud of suspicion in his homeland. Though he’s claimed no early knowledge of the diesel engine manipulation, the former top boss remains under scrutiny from methodical German prosecutors who recently arrested Audi CEO Rupert Stadler.

Recently, the probe’s focus turned to large sums of money leaving the country in the lead-up to the U.S. indictment.

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Ex-Audi CEO Clams Up, Wants Out of the Clink

Former Audi CEO Rupert Stadler’s “How I spent My Summer Vacation” story isn’t likely to make any of us jealous. The one-time top dog at the German luxury automaker has cooled his heels in a Bavarian jail ever since German authorities arrested him on suspicion of fraud back in June. Stadler’s arrest served as a shocking escalation in Germany’s investigation into Volkswagen Group’s diesel emissions scandal.

It seems like time behind bars is getting to Stadler. As the suspended executive attempts to gain his release from prison, new details have emerged over the reasons for his arrest.

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Take Note, Hollywood: Germany Cancels Prestigious Auto Awards Due to Criminality, Awkwardness

The organizers of televised U.S. awards shows, who annually serve up a night of lectures, sermons, hypocrisy, and guilt for an increasingly small audience, should realize that the show doesn’t necessarily have to go on.

It’s certainly not going on in Germany. Axel Springer, a top publishing house for numerous German media sources, including AutoBild, has now wrestled the prestigious Golden Steering Wheel award out of everyone’s hands. There’ll be no thanking of grade school teachers by auto execs this year. Blame, well, the auto industry.

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Uber Driver May Have Been Watching TV Before Fatal Collision: Police

The mash-up of fledgling technology that requires human vigilance to ensure safety and our natural inclination to become distracted by mobile devices appears to be the cause of the fatal Tempe, Arizona Uber crash in March.

According to a lengthy police report obtained by Reuters, the driver of the autonomous Volvo XC90 operated by Uber Technologies may have been watching the TV show The Voice in the moments leading up to the collision. The impact killed 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg, who was crossing the darkened street with her bicycle.

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Tesla's Employee Lawsuit Saga Grows Weirder by the Minute

Tesla CEO Elon Musk appears to be on the hunt for potential saboteurs and thieves. However, as the company doubles down on Model 3 assembly both inside its Fremont, California plant and the tent erected outside, a murky sideshow has emerged.

On Sunday night, Musk emailed employees to alert them to the actions of a saboteur caught hacking the automaker’s manufacturing operating system (MOS), cautioning them to be on the lookout for other nefarious deeds. The automaker then filed a lawsuit against process technician Martin Tripp, who Tesla alleges stole several gigabytes worth of data from the MOS and funnelled the info, which included photos, to shadowy third parties. Incorrect statements were also made to the media by the disgruntled employee, Tesla claims, and it’s now seeking its pound of flesh (as well as its data, plus punitive damages) via the suit.

Tripp’s now telling his side of the story. Oh, and there’s a workplace shooting threat to toss into the mix, too.

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More Intrigue at Tesla As Automaker Sues Former Employee for Data Theft, Media Claims

Never far from (or out of) the headlines, Tesla has filed a lawsuit against a former employee, alleging the individual stole confidential data hacked from the automaker’s manufacturing operating system and sent it to third parties. He’s also alleged to have made false claims to the media.

The contents of the lawsuit, filed in federal court in Nevada against former process technician Martin Tripp, can be read here. In it, Tripp is alleged to have written computer code designed to funnel data from the company, installing it on several computers to keep the information flowing.

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Wrestling With the Law: John Cena Settles With Ford Outside of Court

Professional wrestler John Cena has settled a lawsuit filed by Ford Motor Company over the sale of his Ford GT for an undisclosed amount. If you’ll recall, the automaker affixed a clause to the purchasing agreement that forbade buyers from reselling the vehicle for 24 months.

However, after the automaker filed its lawsuit, Cena’s legal team alleged there was a legal loophole that allowed for the flip. Since the agreement was not included in the final dealer documents, it speculated there was some wiggle room. Regardless, it doesn’t appear to have been enough to squirm away from Ford’s contract entirely.

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Audi's Stadler Out as CEO, but Perhaps Only Temporarily

An emergency board meeting held in the wake of Audi CEO Rupert Stadler’s Monday arrest led to the chief executive’s suspension from the company. It was Stadler’s idea, apparently.

As the former CEO cools his heels in a Munich jail, held on suspicion of fraud and evidence suppression related to Volkswagen Group’s diesel emissions scandal, the automaker’s board named sales and marketing chief Abraham Schot as interim CEO. Whether or not Stadler returns to his former post depends on his innocence.

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Audi CEO Rupert Stadler Arrested, Declared a Flight Risk

Rupert Stadler, chief executive officer of Audi AG, was arrested in Munich Monday morning on suspicion of fraud, according to German prosecutors.

The CEO, who took the helm at Audi in 2007 after joining the company in 1990, was taken into custody following a years-long probe into Volkswagen Group’s emissions cheating. While the automaker has already paid a steep price at home and abroad for its defeat device-equipped diesel engines, today marks the highest profile arrest so far in the ongoing investigations.

According to German media, prosecutors claim Stadler poses a flight risk, meaning he’ll remain in custody for the time being.

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Volkswagen Group Fined an Additional $1.18 Billion for Emissions Cheating, More Suspects Emerge at Audi

In 2017, the U.S. hit Volkswagen with a $4.3 billion fine as part of the company’s plea agreement for violating of the Clean Air Act. It was a rough ride for the automaker, caught using defeat devices on its diesel engines, but it brought the scandal more or less to a close in America.

An ocean away, it seemed nothing would come of the endless raids by German authorities on VW-owned facilities. Apparently, the wheels of justice just turn a little slower in Europe, as the automaker was fined 1 billion euros on Wednesday. It’s one of the largest financial penalties ever imposed on a company by German authorities.

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Former Tesla Safety Director Sues Over Termination

An increasingly murky legal battle has pitted one-time Tesla safety director Carlos Ramirez against his former employer.

In his lawsuit against the automaker, Ramirez claims he was terminated after exposing improper logging of workplace injuries, lending weight to a report published by Reveal earlier this year. Tesla says Ramirez’s firing had nothing to do with his safety findings and everything to do with his behavior towards fellow employees.

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Here's What Utah Police Discovered About the Final Trip of That Tesla Model S

A few days after last Friday’s collision between an Autopilot-enabled Tesla Model S and a stopped fire department truck, police in South Jordan, Utah blew away the clouds of speculation by stating the Tesla driver was looking at her phone immediately prior to the collision. Witnesses claim the car, piloted by an on-board suite of semi-autonomous driving aids, didn’t brake as it approached the traffic signal (and the stopped truck).

Now we know the entirety of what occurred in the car in the minutes preceding the 60 mph impact.

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That Dodge Durango in Your Rear-view Might Be a Cop

Once upon a time, fearsome variants of conservative full-size sedans roamed America’s highways en masse in search of speeders and felons, but the emergence of the SUV as the preferred tool of law enforcement relegated the traditional four-door car to the back of the pack.

It’s no wonder why Ford had no problem ditching the Taurus. Some 80 percent of the automaker’s police fleet orders specify the Police Interceptor Utility — a butched-up Explorer — instead of its sedan stablemate. Chevrolet’s Tahoe PPV offers law enforcement a more rugged SUV option.

Not wanting to be left behind in the switch to high-riding cop cars, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has debuted a competitor — the Dodge Durango Pursuit.

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Driving Under the Influence of Canada: Possession of Strange, Foreign Driver's License Sends Woman to Georgia Slammer

Any number of unpleasant things can befall a motorist after an unexpected, police-initiated roadside stop. Asset seizure being just one of the dangers. Of course, suspected drug use can also ruin your day, as well as your life.

For an Ontario woman pulled over for speeding on the I-75 in Cook County, Georgia, the item that landed her in jail was exactly what the officer asked for: a driver’s license. Sorry, wrong country, she was told.

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Dodge the Security, Ram the Gate: New Pickups Stolen From Factory

Police in Michigan are flummoxed and frustrated after a theft of nearly a dozen brand new Ram pickups from the Warren Truck Assembly Plant. Like a scene from Gone in 60 Seconds, the ne’er-do-wells are alleged to have crashed freshly manufactured Rams through secured gates before hightailing it south on Mound Road.

“This was well-planned,” said Warren Police Commissioner Bill Dwyer, who takes home top honors in today’s Most Obvious Statement competition.

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Volkswagen's Former CEO Finally Charged Over Diesel Cheating Scandal

Former Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn has been charged by U.S. prosecutors with conspiracy and wire fraud, according to an indictment that was unsealed in a Michigan federal court on Thursday. For those of you who have been following the Dieselgate scandal from the beginning, this has been a long time coming.

Winterkorn has been at the epicenter of the emissions-cheating issue since before VW’s earliest admissions and was swiftly removed from his post as the automotive group’s chief executive in 2015. He also had a major falling out with ex-supervisory board chairman Ferdinand Piëch after being confronted on the emissions issue during the Geneva Motor Show.

The two had previously held a very close relationship but a power struggle within the organization appeared to have been brewing for quite some time, making the scandal an important turning point. Piëch became vaguely accusatory of Winterkorn in the aftermath and eventually cut ties with the company and, by extension, his family. All the while Winterkorn was under investigation in both the United States and Germany.

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Could Pentagon's Direct Energy Ray Gun Put an End to High Speed Police Chases?

There are many people who feel every federal agency does not require the kind of machine gun-toting SWAT teams that have proliferated in Washington over recent decades. Also, for 140 years, since the passing of the Posse Comitatus Act, Americans have thought that keeping military and police functions separate is a good idea. In recent decades, as billions of dollars worth of surplus military equipment was made available to American police agencies following the first Gulf War and subsequent military actions in Afghanistan and Iraq, concern has been raised over that equipment leading to both militarization and corruption of local police and sheriff’s departments.

Still, from coagulants designed to staunch battlefield wounds to Global Positioning Satellites originally used by our military, some technologies are just too good to be restricted to being used to break stuff and kill folks. Now, a direct energy “ray gun” developed to protect military installations from car and truck bombs could have civilian uses. The device focuses microwave energy at a vehicle, overloading its electrical system and causing the Engine Control Unit to reboot over and over, disabling the vehicle.

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When You're Thumbing Your Nose at the Law With a Laser Jammer, Maybe You Shouldn't Also Flip Them Off

At first, the headlines looked like a serious breach of justice: “Man Gets 8 Months In Prison After Flipping-Off Traffic Camera.” A jail sentence for a rude gesture?

As much as I have concerns about civil liberties and law enforcement, after tracking down the actual news (or at least a press release from the relevant police agency), it appears the case wasn’t as simple as jailing a man for flipping a bird at a speed camera. I have to say that the guy probably deserved some legal grief, if only for being too brazen.

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Canada's Worst(?) Used Car Salesman Heads Back to the Slammer, Leaves Misery and At Least One Broken Home in His Wake

We told you last year of the outrageous case of an Oshawa, Ontario used car salesman who bilked unwitting customers out of their hard-earned cash before being sentenced to a month in jail. Well, a second trial recently adjourned, and Ryen Maxwell of Countryside Motors now faces 180 days in the big house.

A repeat fraudster, this former salesman’s list of financial atrocities is a long one. In addition to causing fiscal hardship for numerous customers, Maxwell’s actions can be credited with causing, or at least contributing to, one woman becoming stranded in a rural snowbank and the breakup of another man’s marriage. Is it any wonder BHPH lots carry a stigma?

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Porsche Powertrain Boss Arrested in Germany: Report

Jörg Kerner, Porsche’s head of powertrain development, has reportedly been arrested by German authorities for playing an alleged role in Volkswagen Group’s diesel emissions scandal.

Kerner, who sources say is being held on remand due to the potential of being a flight risk, was appointed director of Porsche’s powertrain development division in October 2011. Before that, Kerner worked for supplier Robert Bosch GmbH from 1986 to 2004, after which he oversaw development of engine electronics and software for Audi.

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Wells Fargo Fined $1 Billion For Auto Insurance Scandal, Mortgage Misdeeds

Wells Fargo is getting slammed with all kinds of penalties over shady business practices. Currently prohibited from growing its business as investigators look into its practices, the bank has restructured itself after it was implicated in widespread auto insurance and mortgage lending abuse in the summer of 2017. It’s also still coping with an earlier scandal involving local branches opening fake accounts for customers.

Last week, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency suggested Well Fargo pay $1 billion to “resolve” the governmental probes into those issues. That changed today when the bureau filed a consent order announcing it was time for the bank to pay up.

The fine applies to the mortgage lending issues, as well as Wells Fargo’s past practice of charging thousands of auto loan customers for insurance they didn’t need and often didn’t even know about. The move caused some borrowers to default on their loans, resulting in their vehicles being repossessed. The consent order mandates that the bank remediate those customers.

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As Tesla Crash Victim's Family Hires Lawyer, Automaker Places Blame on Driver

Tesla could soon find itself on the receiving end of a wrongful death lawsuit. The family of Walter Huang, the driver of a Tesla Model X that crashed into a concrete highway divider in Mountain View, California in March, has sought out the assistance of a law firm to “explore legal options.”

The crash occurred as the vehicle travelled along US-101 in Autopilot mode. Tesla released two statements following the fatal wreck, divulging that the driver had not touched the steering wheel in the six seconds prior to impact. While company claims the responsibility for the crash rests on the driver, law firm Minami Tamaki LLP faults Tesla’s semi-autonomous Autopilot system for the death.

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Fiat Chrysler Can Look Forward to a Big Summer Eco Payout

When Fiat Chrysler Automobiles regails the class with a “how I spend my summer” story this fall, expect some mention of handing over large sums of money to state and federal governments.

The U.S. Department of Justice and California Air Resources Board want the automaker to make things right after accusing it of polluting the nation’s air via its 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V6 engines. Some 104,000 Jeep and Ram vehicles from the 2014 to 2016 model years contained emissions control devices not revealed to the Environmental Protection Agency, which came down hard on the automaker after their discovery. According to FCA’s lawyer, the settlement could come this summer.

What does the DOJ want? According to an earlier settlement offer sent to the automaker, the levelling of “very substantial civil penalties” is the only way to ensure FCA learns its lesson.

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No Fixed Abode: Here Comes The Private-Private Partnership

If you’re a driver in a major urban area, you probably already know all about the nasty creature known as the “public-private partnership.” In a nutshell, it’s a way for a private company to make money by issuing you citations on behalf of a municipality. There isn’t space on these electronic pages to detail the many ways in which public-private partnerships have veered off the tracks into profiteering, racketeering, bribery, and many other forms of outright criminality. In a way, it’s entirely appropriate; after all, the original “public-private partnership” was the European Letter Of Marque that permitted any yahoo with a sailboat and a cannon or two to become a “privateer” — in other words, a pirate.

It seems only reasonable that someone would eventually come up with a “private-private partnership” that uses technology to defend the hapless motorist rather than burden him further. Something similar happened years ago with radar and laser guns: insurance companies, including GEICO, gave free laser guns to the police in the hopes that the guns would be used to write tickets and thus enable them to raise the rates of their customers. At the same time, Cincinnati Microwave and other companies were selling radar detectors that cost more than a speeding ticket but less than the inevitable insurance hike.

The modern successor to Mike Valentine and Cincinnati Microwave: A 19-year-old with a website, of course.

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Don't Expect a Landmark Court Case From the Uber Self-driving Car Death

It had all the hallmarks of a groundbreaking case, one that might define the hazy legal boundaries that exist at the dawn of the autonomous vehicle age. Instead, a settlement.

The death, earlier this month, of 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg at the self-guided hands of an Volvo XC90 operated by Uber Technologies Inc. in a Phoenix suburb immediately sparked questions of who was at fault. The company operating the pilot project? The automaker that supplied the vehicle for conversion to autonomous drive? The suppliers of the sensors and software needed to turn the SUV into a robot? Road and light conditions? The pedestrian? Or, perhaps, the human occupant whose eyes weren’t on the road prior to impact?

Questions still swirl around why the Uber vehicle’s sensors didn’t recognize the woman crossing a darkened highway with her bicycle, but we won’t hear them answered in a courtroom.

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Maryland or Bust(ed): Driver Nabbed Going Over 160 MPH in Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat

Indiana State Police proudly announced the capture of a speed demon who was ripping down the highway at over twice the legal limit. The diver, 38-year old J. Jesus Duran Sandoval, was allegedly trying to break the sound barrier on the Indiana Toll Road Tuesday evening when he hurtled past an officer at an extremely high rate of speed.

State Trooper Dustin Eggert, who was merging back into traffic after helping a broken down motorist near the 45 mile marker, took chase but found the 707-horsepower Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat difficult to keep up with. At one point he found himself driving 150 miles an hour, noting that the vehicle he was pursuing continued to pull away as he radioed for backup.

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ISIS on the Assembly Line: Volkswagen Ordered to Rehire Suspected Militant Who Threatened Co-workers

In 2016, Volkswagen’s Wolfsburg factory fired an employee named Samir B. He had been working for the automaker for 8 years, mounting tires, but after the company said he began threatening co-workers and telling them of his pledge to join Islamist ISIS fighters in Syria, they had to let him go.

VW felt the threats were serious and worried he might stage a terror attack during a stockholders’ meeting at the company’s Wolfsburg headquarters. Now, a German court has ordered Volkswagen to reinstate him.

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Paranoid of the Government? BMW's Got Your Back

As sometimes happens, there’s a war brewing in the heart of Europe. This one isn’t like the others, though — instead of nation versus nation, it’s a case of lawmakers versus privately owned vehicles, primarily those of the diesel persuasion.

So eager are some city governments to ban the operation of diesel-powered cars and trucks in or near urban centers, BMW Group has taken the unusual step of issuing a promise. In a bid to allay fears of new (or newish) vehicles becoming useless to their owners, the automaker claims it will let German lessees return their diesel vehicles and switch to a gas-powered model.

Don’t worry about the government, BMW wants its customers to know. Just enjoy that compression ignition engine while you can.

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It's Looking Like Virginians Won't Get a Chance to Legally Drink and Drive at Home

A bill seeking to amend Virginia’s DUI laws passed through the state Senate last month, but don’t expect the law to make it onto the books. The legislation aimed to make intoxicated driving legal if a driver performed the boozy feat on his or her own private property, with all other existing laws remaining the same.

As you might expect, this didn’t go over well with law enforcement, politicians, safety advocates, and various other concerned citizenry.

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Ferrari Dealership Altered Odometers on Used Vehicles for Profit

News broke earlier this week of a Ferrari dealer embroiled in a lawsuit after a salesman accused the company of authorizing the use of devices that roll back vehicle odometers. Despite being a great way to improve the valuation of a used car, the practice is generally frowned upon — our best guess is because it’s super shady and totally illegal.

However, it was unclear if the issue revolved around one grubby dealership in Palm Beach or a systemic problem that included the manufacturer. The DEIS Diagnostics System that made the shenanigans possible does require online authorization from Ferrari corporate offices. But it could be that someone at home base didn’t know the extent of what the tool was actually being used for.

Unfortunately, they did. This week, details emerged from the case files of Robert “Bud” Root’s lawsuit against New Country Motor Cars. Back in April of 2017, Ferrari issued a memo to the dealership that can best be paraphrased as “cut it out.”

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John Cena Ready to Take Ford to the Mat Over Supercar Contract

Late last year, Ford Motor Company decided to sue professional wrestler and actor John Cena after he decided to sell his GT supercar. Hoping to keep ownership of the vehicle exclusive, the automaker included a clause in the ownership contract that expressly forbade anyone from selling it within two years of taking delivery. Cena decided to flip the vehicle early, causing Ford to go after him in the courts on breach of contract, fraudulent misrepresentation, and unjust enrichment.

His position appeared to be indefensible. Ford’s lawsuit even alleges that John apologized after the automaker took him to task, saying, “I completely understand and as stated am willing to work with you and Ford to make it right.”

However, the winds may have shifted in his favor. Cena is reportedly asking the judge in the case to throw out the lawsuit on the grounds that his contract never included the clause that forbid resale within the first 24 months of ownership.

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San Francisco Business Owner Defies Police To Get His Van Back, Is Lectured By Local Moonbats

A few years ago, I decided to have a heart-to-heart talk with my little brother, the artist currently known as Bark M., about something that had always puzzled me.

“Dude,” I asked, “why did you quit being a performing musician? You were making halfway decent money, you were on the road all the time, you were playing music that you loved, you were hooking up with a different college girl every night. Why would you leave all of that behind and manage a Men’s Wearhouse, for Christ’s sake?” Bark gave me this very sour look and replied, “I got sick of being in a van.”

I had to laugh, because at that point it made perfect sense. I’ve never met anybody else who is as picky as my brother when it comes to travel. Take this past weekend for example. I was on a two-stop Southwest flight that ended up taking ten and a half hours in the air to get me from Oakland to Columbus; he was on a nonstop from LAX to Cincinnati. When I finally landed after my back-of-coach-class ordeal I found that he’d been on Instagram complaining about the quality of his Delta One meal service. If ever there was a man who would give up dating a new 19-year-old every weekend night just so he didn’t have to ride in a van, it would be Bark.

Don’t tell him, but there’s now a company that rents first-rate, brand-new vans to traveling musicians so they can enjoy all the comforts of home while they travel. The company is called Bandago and it’s based in San Francisco. These vans have leather recliners, video games, and giant flatscreens. If you had a touring band, you’d never want to give your “Bandago” back. If you were renting your Bandago so you could perpetrate some crime with a crew of miscreants, you would also not want to give your Bandago back. Which leads us to a real San Francisco treat of a story.

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Everyone's Busted: Ex-UAW VP's Widow Pleads Guilty in Corruption Case

The last of four people initially charged in the UAW-Fiat Chrysler corruption scandal pleaded guilty on Tuesday to one of five charges against her. That makes the entire quartet culpable, at least to some degree, to the financial misconduct that occured between the automaker and workers’ union.

However, the case is far from closed. While Monica Morgan, the widow of former UAW vice president General Holiefield, copped to one count of subscribing a false tax return, her plea bargain ignores the other charges against her. The prosecution’s leniency may indicate a hope that she might assist with the ongoing union corruption probe, even though the deal doesn’t require her to cooperate with investigators. Of course, the prosecution already has former FCA labor relations chief Alphons Iacobelli for that task

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Feds Ready to Hit Fiat Chrysler With Big Fines: Report

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles might need the 2019 Ram 1500’s newly increased payload capability when it comes time to visit the bank.

As we’ve told you since the scandal broke a year ago, FCA could find itself on the hook for hefty penalties after the Environmental Protection Agency slammed it for failing to declare a bevy of auxiliary emission control devices on its 3.0-liter diesel V6 engine. With the 2017 and 2018 Ram and Jeep EcoDiesel models now in compliance, the question becomes: what does FCA pay to settle the fallout?

According to documents obtained by Bloomberg, it seems the monetary fine sought by the U.S. Justice Department might not fit in the pickup bed.

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German Automakers 'Rearrange' Staff After Newest Diesel-related Scandal, Audi Employees See Homes Raided

Daimler AG and BMW group suspended or moved several employees linked to a group that was commissioned for research that involved exposing monkeys and humans to potentially harmful gases. While the nature of these tests may not be extraordinary or illegal, the public response has been one of outrage.

Volkswagen suspended chief lobbyist Thomas Steg earlier this week for similar reasons, but the other automakers have now followed suit in the hopes of quelling public anger. The automakers haven’t kept silent on the matter, either. High-ranking executives have called the research repugnant, suggesting that the ethics employed by the European Research Group on Environment and Health in the Transport Sector (EUGT) were unacceptable.

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Lawsuit Claims Ford 'Rigged' Its Diesel Truck Engines

Are you an automaker that’s currently producing, or has ever produced, a diesel engine? If so, the odds are pretty good you’ll eventually be sued over its existence. A new lawsuit by truck owners, filed on Wednesday, alleges Ford Motor Company installed emissions-cheating software in F-250 and F-350 Super Duty trucks — built between 2011 and 2017 — to ensure they passed federal testing.

At this point, all of the Detroit Three manufacturers have been accused of some form of diesel deceit. Which makes us wonder how warranted these lawsuits are. Volkswagen’s scandal started when an independent source tipped off U.S. regulatory agencies, but these truck cases frequently begin as class-action suits on somewhat specious grounds.

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Attention Burglars: Californian HOA Mandate Forces Residents to Keep Garage Doors Open All Day

Throughout the 20th century, there have been three social ideologies that looked appetizing on paper, but ultimately proved toxic in practice. I am of course talking about fascism, communism, and the homeowners association. While we’ve successfully managed to keep the former two restrained in North America, the dreaded homeowners association has persisted — borrowing heavily from the worst parts of both fascism and communism to enforce an arbitrary pettiness upon regular folks everywhere.

This month, “everywhere” just so happens to be a California neighborhood where the local HOA is forcing residents keep their garages open all day. Apparently the Auburn Greens complex in Auburn, California found out that a single resident had been caught allowing people to sleep in their garage. To ensure this never happens again, the homeowners association has mandated all residents leave their automotive bays open between the hours of 8 a.m. an 4 p.m. or receive a $200 fine.

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VW Attempting to Block Emissions Audit in Constitutional Court

Volkswagen Group said on Thursday that it would be petitioning Germany’s constitutional court to overturn the appointment of a special auditor to investigate the actions of its management during its diesel emissions scandal. Appointed last November, the auditor’s goal is to establish whether or not VW’s top brass withheld information about the manipulation of vehicle emissions as they related to testing.

Even thought the automaker has said it wanted to improve transparency shortly after the scandal kicked off in September of 2015, Volkswagen wants the work of the auditor suspended prior to the constitutional-court hearing against it. This begs the question: Does VW still have something to hide or is it so fed up with the litigation surrounding “dieselgate” that it’ll do just about anything to keep officials from dredging up the past?

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  • Jeff S The Cybertruck is one of the most hyped vehicles in decades.
  • Nrd515 This is all I could think of seeing this. I saw it in the theater with my dad about 59 years or so ago:https://www.popcorncinemashow.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Mr-Sardonicus-1961-01.jpg
  • Art Vandelay I have no illusions tha my Challenger was going to be a car I wanted to own 10 seconds out of warranty. Fun, sure. Fun in 8 years? Hard pass based on the 2 years I had it
  • ToolGuy Weren't some of the most powerful engines in the M4 Sherman air-cooled? (And supercharged.)
  • ToolGuy "I installed oil temp and cylinder head temp gauges on various vehicles I was driving, so I could monitor how the engine was doing. I switched from my normal 20W50 and dropped to 15W40 oil and put down thousands of miles. Within that time, I saw a noticeable decrease in oil temps and even cylinder head temps while driving in different situations."ToolGuy has great admiration for your use of the scientific method in conducting original research.