Barra Gets Half: Appeals Court Nixes Make-Nice Meeting Between GM, Fiat Chrysler

General Motors saw half of its wishes granted this week, after an appeals court overturned an order by U.S. District Judge Paul Borman for the CEOs of GM and Fiat Chrysler to meet and settle their differences in person.

GM is suing FCA, accusing its crosstown rival of racketeering and claiming it lost billions of dollars via FCA’s bribing of UAW officials in return for a series of favorable, low-cost labor agreements. The General wants to go all the way with its case, but Borman stepped in, calling the suit a “nuclear” option. The in-person meeting is now off the table, but Borman’s still on the case.

Read more
Chilly Visit: Court-ordered Manley-Barra Meeting Now Includes Lawyers

The coronavirus pandemic and waves of protests may have captured much of the nation’s attention, but holdovers from the Before Times remain. Among them, General Motors’s racketeering lawsuit against rival Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. Remember that?

GM claims FCA, with the help of corrupt UAW officials, hammered out mutually beneficial labor deals that gave the Italian-American automaker an unfair edge over its competition. After appealing a judge’s ruling last week, GM’s CEO, Mary Barra, will now be able to attend a court-ordered meeting with FCA CEO Mike Manley with legal representation in tow.

Oh, to be a fly on that wall.

Read more
Fiat Chrysler Gets Its Wish; Jeep Lookalike Blocked From U.S.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ battle to keep an Indian all-terrain vehicle — one that looks suspiciously like a certain flag-waving American off-road vehicle — out of the U.S. has come to an end. FCA won.

As reported by Bloomberg, the U.S. International Trade Commission has ruled that Mahindra’s Roxor, which strongly resembles a Jeep CJ, is in violation of section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930 and infringes on the complainant’s trade dress. In short, the Mahindra Roxor looks too much like a Jeep.

Read more
Ex-UAW Prez Pleads Guilty to Racketeering

Gary Jones, the former United Auto Workers president who stepped down last November amid growing suspicion of wrongdoing, pleaded guilty Wednesday to involvement in a racketeering scheme that saw UAW officials soak themselves in funds earmarked for workers.

Jones is the biggest fish thus far caught in a wide net cast by federal investigators — a net that’s captured nearly a dozen current or former UAW execs with their hands in the till. In the former UAW prez’s case, more than a million dollars’ worth of union dues flowed not into training programs or other benefits, but into lavish living and high-priced toys.

Will Jones see a lengthy term in the clink, you ask? What do you think?

Read more
Murder, Arson, and Hundreds of Charges: Cops Wade Into Canuck Towing War

In the millimetre-deep world of online sociopolitical commentary, the United States is portrayed as a lawless land of heartless thugs and capitalist greed. Its neighbor to the north, on the other hand, is often pictured as a doe-eyed innocent whose heart is too inherently pure for any wrongdoing. A superficial take, for sure, and certainly one that didn’t take Ontario’s towing industry into account.

North of Lake Erie and Ontario, around the small, idyllic hamlet of Toronto, police just laid nearly 200 charges against tow truck operators who they say waged a violent, multi-year war against each other. What started out as simple rivalry between tow companies devolved into a full-scale conflict that boasted every ingredient of organized crime: guns, drugs, money, intimidation, arson, and murder.

Dozens more arrests are expected.

Read more
U.S. Nabs Two Men, Including Ex-Green Beret, in Ghosn Escape Caper

Authorities arrested a former U.S. special forces member and his son in Massachusetts Wednesday, accusing them of helping former Renault and Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn escape from Japanese justice. Just after Christmas, Ghosn, under house arrest awaiting trial for financial crimes, turned up in the safe country of Lebanon following a complex and hazy escape plan.

Such a plan was beyond the abilities of Ghosn to pull off on his own, but it seems just such an extraction was Michael Taylor’s specialty. Taylor, 59, a former Green Beret, was arrested along with his 27-year-old son Peter.

Read more
Ex-UAW Prez Arraigned, Expected to Play Nice With Feds

Former United Auto Workers President Gary Jones was arraigned via video link yesterday, catapulting the disgraced union boss back into the headlines two months after his arrest on charges of embezzlement, racketeering, and defrauding the U.S. government.

During a videoconference held by the U.S. District Court in Detroit, Jones’ attorney entered a not-guilty plea for his client, though the former UAW boss is expected to plead guilty in June. The manner in which Jones was charged gives every indication a plea deal is in the works, with Jones’ assistance in fingering co-conspirators offered in exchange for a reduced sentence.

Read more
Try and Stop Me: In Defiance of County Orders, Tesla Turns on the Lights

Furious over a decision by county officials to keep all non-essential businesses offline until the end of the month, Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced late Monday that his Fremont, California assembly plant is opening up anyway.

The move comes two days after the automaker filed a lawsuit against Alameda County. In it, Tesla called the county’s order unconstitutional and in violation of California Governor Gavin Newson’s statewide return-to-work mandate. Should county officials call in the cops, Musk wishes to be the only one in cuffs.

Read more
Apparently, You Can't Blame the Car

A finely tuned German road machine is always seeking to influence its driver. Prodding the individual to let down their defenses, throw caution to the wind, and open ‘er up.

Make any road your Autobahn. Feel alive, if only for once in your pathetic, stinking life, the German car whispers…

And yet, despite the supercar-fighting prowess instilled into many Mercedes-AMG products, you can’t blame the car or the manufacturer once Johnny Law catches up to you. Especially when you’re a teenager clocked going 191 mph in dad’s C63.

Read more
Tesla Sues County; Musk Promises to Pick up Toys, Go Home

California announced late last week that it will allow the cautious reopening of manufacturing operations across the state, but Alameda County resisted, claiming it will keep non-essential businesses shuttered until the end of the month.

Guess which county Tesla’s Fremont assembly plant is located in.

Now guess Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s reaction to the country’s announcement. If you speculated that Tesla might sue Alameda Country, with Musk launching an online tirade in which he promises to move Tesla HQ and all future products out of the state, you’d be right.

Read more
Winging It: Turkey Charges Crews of Ghosn Escape Planes

Remember, long ago, when former Renault-Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn filled headlines, rather than a virus? Good times. And it seems they’re still good times for Ghosn, whose Bond-like pre-New Year’s escape from Japanese authorities via chartered jets and a musical instrument case delivered him to the relative safety of Lebanon. Warrants are out, but the country’s lack of an extradition agreement with Japan works heavily in the fallen exec’s favor.

While Ghosn, arrested in Tokyo in November of 2018 on suspicion of financial misdealings, may have managed to side-step what he claims was an orchestrated legal hit job, the same can’t be said of the crews of the private jets that shuttled him to Beirut.

Read more
Copyright Infringement Lawsuit Has Ford Humming a Sad Tune

Did Ford rip off someone else’s playlist? The answer to this question will emerge from a courtroom, now that the owner of a vast digital music catalog has filed a lawsuit against the automaker.

The copyright infringement suit, filed late last week, accuses Ford of improperly using 54 songs in its marketing materials over the span of several years.

Read more
National Real ID Deadline Delayed Until 2021

On Thursday, Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf announced that the Real ID deadline — which had previously been delayed indefinitely due to the coronavirus outbreak — has been pushed back until October 21st, 2021, as directed by President Trump.

Enacted in May of 2005, the Real ID Act was basically Congress over-responding to 9/11 by mandating that state-issued driver’s licenses be updated so they can be used for official purposes by the federal government (as defined by Homeland Security). While the primary goal is to mitigate air travel of undocumented immigrants between states, the aforementioned “official purposes” applies to whatever the federal government thinks prudent on any given day — including barring citizens without the ID from military bases or federal buildings, in addition to air travel.

If you haven’t heard of Real IDs (indicated by a little gold star in the corner), you’re not alone. The issue only gets a smattering of coverage every couple of years; plenty of states spent the period following 2005 pushing back against the plan, delaying its implementation several times via extensions. It was initially supposed to come into effect in four phases starting in 2008, but changes didn’t actually start until 2014. At this point, the nation is at phase three (which restricts access to federal facilities), with phase four applying new rules to U.S. air travel.

Read more
Oh, No You Don't: GM Isn't About to Let Fiat Chrysler Off the Hook

Fiat Chrysler wants to see General Motors’ racketeering lawsuit dismissed, but the automaker’s crosstown rival isn’t in a charitable mood.

GM contends that bribery of United Auto Workers officials by FCA over years of contract talks left that automaker sitting pretty, with extra labor costs dumped on its Detroit competitors. While FCA claims GM can’t prove it’s a victim, The General says otherwise.

Read more
Own a Piece of the UAW Scandal; Yours for Just $1.299 Million

The ongoing federal probe into bribery, money laundering, and embezzlement among UAW officials marches on, with former president Gary Jones being the latest figure hit with charges. While expensive villa rentals and tony hooch seemed to be common expenditures among UAW brass with ill-gotten financial gains, the scandal also highlighted a certain piece of lakefront property.

That property, as well as the spacious home built on it, is something the UAW would rather not have anything to do with. It can now be yours.

Read more
  • Jwee I think it is short sighted and detrimental to the brand. The company should be generous to its locked-in user base, treating them as a resource, not a revenue stream.This is what builds any good relationship, generosity to the other partner. Apple does with their products. My iPhone is 5 years old, but I keep getting the latest and greatest updates for free, which makes me feel valued as a customer and adds actual value. When it is time for a new phone, Apple past treatment towards me certainly plays into my decisions (as did BMW's - so long subscription extracting pigs, its been a great 20 years). Imagine how much good will and love (and good press) Polestar would get from their user base if they gave them all a "68 fresh horses" update overnight, for free. Brand loyalty would soar (provided their car is capable).
  • ToolGuy If I had some space I would offer $800 and let the vehicle sit at my place as is. Then when anyone ever asked me, "Have you ever considered owning a VW?" I would say "Yes."
  • ToolGuy In the example in the linked article an automated parking spot costs roughly 3% of the purchase price of the property. If I were buying such a property, I would likely purchase two parking spots to go with it, and I'm being completely serious.(Speaking of ownership vs. subscription, the $150 monthly maintenance fee would torque me off a lot more than the initial acquisition cost.)
  • ToolGuy "which will be returned as refunds to citizens of the state" - kind of like the Alaska Permanent Fund? Make the amount high enough and I will gladly move to California to take advantage (my family came close to moving there when I was a teen, and oodles of people have moved from CA to my state, so I'm happy to return the favor).Note to California: You probably do not want me as a citizen.
  • ToolGuy Nice torque figure.