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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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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As Court Rejects Ex-Audi CEO's Prison Appeal, Automaker Chooses Its Future Boss: Report

Rupert Stadler, whose reign as CEO of Audi came to an end after his June arrest, won’t walk out the front doors of his Bavarian jail anytime soon. A Munich court has rejected the former auto executive’s appeal for release.

The appeal came nearly a month ago, around the same time Stadler — suspected of fraud in the diesel emissions scandal — stopped talking to prosecutors. The reason for the court’s decision is the same reason why a judge remanded Stadler in custody back in June. Worries remain that he might tamper with evidence if freed.

Meanwhile, there’s change brewing at the top of Audi’s corporate hierarchy.

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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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  • SCE to AUX I would normally go right away, except that the latest trend is to simply advise you of a problem before they have an actual solution.Two of my cars are under safety recall right now, and I scheduled them for sequential days but the soonest I could get in was 4 weeks. So much for safety.
  • SCE to AUX I didn't know they had 80 employees to lose.
  • SCE to AUX Discounting for EPA estimates, full load, and working strictly between 20% and 80% charge, I estimate about 80 miles of real, actual range.Useful, I suppose, but definitely local service. If you can refill over lunch then maybe you can double that distance.Delivery work is notoriously fuel inefficient, so an electric van could make business sense depending on the MSRP.
  • Syke Just got my Bolt's battery recall done yesterday. Happily, we've got a dealer that's supporting the Bolt competently, getting the battery kit was supposed to take five weeks since I signed the work order. It took two and a half. Pulled the car in 0730 Monday, got a call at 1600 that afternoon saying I could pick it up. Didn't get down there until this morning, 255 miles range with frost on the windows. I'm happy.
  • Syke Nice. Competent. Definitely a useful tool.