Nikola Corp. has agreed to pay $125 million to settle charges levied by The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that the company actively defrauded investors by providing misleading information about its technical prowess, production capabilities, and general prospects.
The settlement comes after a salvo of civil and criminal charges were launched against Nikola’s founder Trevor Milton, who got in trouble for convincing investors that the prospective automaker had fully functional prototypes boasting technologies other companies would have envied when that wasn’t actually the case. Milton was chided for using social media to promote false claims about the business, with his pleading not guilty to fraud charges brought up by the Department of Justice in July.
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.
The United States Department of Justice has ended its investigation into Ford, Honda, Volkswagen, and BMW over a presumed antitrust violation stemming from a deal they made with California to adhere to regional emission rules. Their agreement technically circumvents the current administration’s plan to freeze national emissions and fuel economy standards — established while President Obama was still in office — at 2021 levels through 2026. Under the California deal, the automakers promised to comply with pollution and gas mileage requirements that are more stringent than the federal standards suggested in the rollback proposal.
But the probe also looked like retaliation from the Trump administration against automakers publicly siding with the state causing the most trouble in the gas war. Under the deal, the automakers promised to comply with pollution and economy requirements that are tougher than proposed federal standards. Despite the corporate promise being as empty as an Oscar speech, it was still an affront to the current administration’s efforts to tamp down lofty efficiency targets put in place just days before it came into power.
While the Justice Department hasn’t explicitly said why it closed the investigation, it’s presumed that it simply didn’t find anything that it felt violated antitrust laws. California Governor Gavin Newsom said on Friday that he wasn’t surprised by the decision, stating that the “trumped-up charges were always a sham, a blatant attempt by the Trump administration to prevent more automakers from joining California and agreeing to stronger emissions standards.”
The Justice Department has opened an antitrust probe into four automakers that formed a pact with California to compromise on tailpipe emissions, effectively circumventing federal regulators, last July.
Over the summer, Ford Motor Co., Honda Motor Co., BMW AG and Volkswagen Group announced a joint agreement with the California Air Resources Board to adhere to fueling standards slightly lower than Obama-era rules but still significantly higher than the Trump administration’s proposal from 2018. The Justice Department is seeking to determine whether or not that qualifies as a violation of federal competition laws.
That headline was unavoidable, by the way. On the same day Ford Motor Company released a better than expected first-quarter earnings report, it also revealed the Justice Department has opened a criminal investigation into its emissions certification process — a probe that could see fuel economy ratings rolled back.
Wall Street seemed much more interested in the financial news, however, giving the company’s stock a much-needed lift. In the Glass House, Jim Hackett must be smiling.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is on the cusp of reaching a settlement with the U.S. Justice Department over undeclared emissions control software that allowed 104,000 diesel vehicles to pollute beyond legal limits.
The settlement is expected to include significant civil penalties and fines to account for the excess diesel emissions while also covering claims from the Justice Department, various U.S. states, and vehicle owners — similar to Volkswagen’s “Dieselgate” settlement. A final agreement could be reached any day now.
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.
Like ripples in a pool of sulphur-rich oil, the impact from Volkswagen’s diesel emissions scandal keeps spreading.
In a cost-cutting measure designed to mitigate the growing financial damage caused by the scandal, Volkswagen is planning to cut 3,000 administration jobs in Germany, according to Reuters.
(UPDATE: Updates the story throughout, including penalty figures. Volkswagen comment.)
The Justice Department on Monday filed a multi-billion dollar lawsuit against Volkswagen for illegally selling emissions-cheating cars in the U.S. from 2009 until last year and said the automaker withheld information about its 3-liter diesel engine’s “defeat device” after investigators uncovered the scandal.
The lawsuit, filed in eastern Michigan court, seeks more than $40 billion in damages from the automaker.
In announcing the lawsuit, officials from the Environmental Protection Agency signaled that regulators and officials may be at a standstill with Volkswagen regarding how it intends to fix its cars in the U.S.
“So far, recall discussions with the company have not produced an acceptable way forward. These discussions will continue in parallel with the federal court action,” Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for enforcement and compliance assurance at EPA, said in a statement.
General Motors disclosed in its quarterly Securities and Exchange Commission filing Thursday that the Federal Trade Commission is investigating the automaker for selling used cars under recall, the Detroit News is reporting.
According to the automaker, the FTC notified GM that it was investigating “certified pre-owned vehicle advertising where dealers had certified vehicles allegedly needing recall repairs.”
The filing acknowledges the investigation is connected with the 2014 recall of 2.59 million cars with faulty ignition switches that could turn the car off while driving, disabling its airbags. So far, 124 deaths have been linked to the defect.
Automotive News reports dealers are still waiting for the ignition switches meant to replace the out-of-spec switch at the center of the ongoing recall crisis at General Motors. The switch was to have arrived at dealerships beginning this week, yet most dealers are in a “holding pattern” on deliveries. Once the parts do arrive, service bays will begin work on affected customer vehicles immediately before turning toward the used lot, where vehicles under the recall are currently parked until the customer vehicles are fixed.
Latest Car ReviewsRead more
Latest Product ReviewsRead more
- Jwee You can avoid American cities, and both you and the Americans would be happier.
- Bryan I used Costco a while back, and didn't care for it - you still wind up going to the dealership.The last time I bought a new car I used an actual car broker and I'll use one again the next time. Whatever they charged me was the best money I spent that year.
- SCE to AUX Just add a split rear window, and the hybrid sins will be forgiven.
- SCE to AUX Just add a split rear window, and the hybrid sins will be forgiven.
- SCE to AUX Maybe those union dues will help soften the landing. Employment there used to be 4000 people, and the plant has been at risk for 15 years. Stellantis did recently say that it would be trimming dead wood so it could rebuild the company. The Cherokee is finished, but I bet the plant reopens with a smaller workforce once Stellantis figures out what to do with it.