Toyota's Hino Motors Confesses to Diesel Emissions Cheating [UPDATED]
A few years ago, you couldn’t sneeze in an elevator without it landing on at least one automotive executive in trouble for diesel emissions cheating. Following Volkswagen’s diesel emissions scandal in 2015, regulators around the globe smelled blood in the water and the feeding frenzy began. Diesel cars that were previously championed as the cleaner alternative in Europe were now public enemy number one. Manufacturers responsible for long-lasting engines with high efficiencies were subjected to enhanced scrutiny. It was something of a sooty witch hunt and has gradually lost steam as the world found new, more immediate things to be outraged with.
But that doesn’t mean nobody has been checking up on them. Hino Motors, Toyota’s truck and bus arm, has confessed that it caught itself cheating after launching an internal investigation into its North American operations. Apparently, some products that should have been subject to Japan’s 2016 emission regulations were not — among some other issues.
Stellantis Staffers Charged With Conspiracy to Cheat Emissions Tests, Defraud Customers
Federal prosecutors Tuesday unsealed new criminal charges that named several Stellantis (formerly Fiat Chrysler Automobiles) officials accused of conspiring to cheat U.S. emissions tests and defraud customers buying their diesel-powered products. The indictment was opened in the Eastern District of Michigan, identifying FCA diesel senior manager Emanuele Palma (42) and two Italian nationals employed by FCA Italy SpA — Sergio Pasini (43) of Ferrera and Gianluca Sabbioni (55) of Sala Bolognese.
Palma had been charged previously and becomes a co-conspirator in the alleged plot to develop a 3.0-liter diesel engine used in FCA vehicles that could flummox emissions tests allowing the automaker to sell vehicles that did not adhere to government regulations. The motor started appearing inside engine bays in 2014, including popular models like the Ram 1500 and Jeep Grand Cherokee.
UAW Reaches Corruption Settlement With Justice Department
The U.S. Department of Justice has reached a proposed civil settlement with the United Auto Workers (UAW) in the gigantic corruption case that absorbed two former presidents and a slew of union officers over the last few years. With many involved already serving the first part of their prison sentence, the UAW has reportedly agreed to hold a referendum among the rank-and-file to change the way it elects the top brass. The proposal predictably includes some court oversight designed to catch any new instances of fraud coming from inside the union but doesn’t appear to address the corporate aspect.
As a positive, it’s not assumed that the union will see a complete government takeover. Like laundry, it’s already better to separate your alleged corruption to create legal buffer zones.
Volkswagen's Dieselgate Concludes in the U.S.
Volkswagen Group appears to have completed the terms laid out by the U.S. Department of Justice after it decided the automaker required some oversight in the wake of the 2015 emissions fiasco (colloquially known as Dieselgate). VW was found guilty of equipping certain models with emissions-cheating software that would allow the car to run cleaner under testing conditions (passing regulations) and dirtier, with better performance, the rest of the time.
The con was brilliant and allowed VW to fool regulators for years until it all blew up in its face. Getting caught in the United States kicked off a chain reaction that cost the automaker a fortune globally. In May, VW estimated it had spent €31.3 billion ($34.40 billion USD) in fines and settlements and fines globally — adding that it expects to bleed another €4.1 billion through 2021. But the company was certainly happy to announce on Monday that it had adhered to settlement deal it reached with the Department of Justice and California’s Attorney General.
Justice Department Subpoenas Automakers Over California Emissions Pact
The Justice Department has issued civil subpoenas to the four major automakers’ that voluntary agreed to adopt a Californian compromise on vehicle emission requirements. The antitrust investigation seeks to determine whether or not BMW, Ford, Honda, and Volkswagen were in violation of federal competition laws by agreeing with each other to adhere to stricter emissions standards penned by California.
With the Trump administration working for years to roll back emissions standards, California has been doing everything in its power to maintain its ability to self-regulate and gain support for higher emission standards. Under the agreement with the Golden State, the companies promised to meet annual emission improvement targets of 3.7 percent and defer to the state’s authority to set its own emissions standards.
Billion-dollar Lawsuit Accuses Ford of Falsifying Pickup Fuel Economy
As if preordained to coincide with Ford’s announcement of its electric F-Series prototype, news of a class-action lawsuit accusing the automaker of falsified fuel economy tests surfaced last night. The suit, filed on Monday in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan by Seattle law firm Hagens Berman, asks $1.2 billion in damages for customers it claims are overspending on fuel.
The legal action piggybacks on the Justice Department’s criminal investigation of Ford’s testing procedures for the 2019 Ford Ranger in April. However, the civil suit also ropes in the F-Series — claiming that customers could spend upwards of two grand in gas they never budgeted for.
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.
Volkswagen Facing Criminal Charges in Emissions Probe
The investigation that Volkswagen installed illegal “defeat devices” on its cars to cheat emissions tests will reach the U.S. Department of Justice, Bloomberg (via Automotive News) reported.
Sources within the department said they would investigate the automaker, but no details were given.
The Justice Department recently suspended prosecution of General Motors for covering up a faulty ignition switch that was linked to 124 deaths. It’s unclear what, if any charges, could be brought against Volkswagen for the illegal emissions, however the Justice Department charged GM with wire fraud violations in conjunction with its ignition switch coverup.
GM to Pay $900 Million For Faulty Ignition Switch Cover-up
Two sources have told Reuters that the government will levy a $900 million fine on General Motors for its failure to recall and subsequent attempts to cover-up of faulty ignition switches linked to at least 124 deaths.
Criminal charges will be filed against GM for its role in hiding the defect from regulators, but will defer prosecution while the automaker complies with its penalty. The agreement is expected to be announced Thursday.
The massive fine is smaller than the $1.2 billion Toyota paid in March 2014 for its role in concealing that its cars could accelerate suddenly.
U.S. DoJ, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Investigate Toyota, Honda, Other Automakers' Credit Arms For Lending Bias
According to regulatory filings by Toyota Motor Credit Corp., the giant automaker’s car financing arm, and American Honda Finance Corp., which fills a similar role for Honda, the United States Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Department of Justice are investigating major auto manufacturers for possible lending bias based on race, which would be a violation of the 1974 Equal Credit Opportunity Act. According to Bloomberg, the agencies are looking into how loans that the automakers’ credit companies provide to auto dealers are priced. Bloomberg reports that as many as seven car companies have been asked for data that may be related to the borrowers’ races and interest rates charged. Both government agencies declined to comment on the matter.
Daimler Probed By Russia After DOJ Shakedown
Have you ever done serious business in Russia? Nyet? If you want to keep your conscience pure, don’t. It’s a “gotta pay to play” country. If you don’t make regular payments, the best that can happen to you is that you are out of business. In more serious cases, you pay with your life – a common currency in that country.
Behind that backdrop, it’s humorous to read that “the Russian Prosecutor-General’s Office has asked the United States to provide information about corruption that reportedly accompanied the sale of Mercedes limousines by Russian law enforcement agencies, Prosecutor-General Yuri Chaika told the Federation Council.” That according to Russia’s news agency ITAR-TASS. (It’s “sale to law enforcement agencies.” Someone with lesser English may have made a payment. See video.)