California Seeking to Fine Companies Over Gasoline Price Gouging
Despite the perpetual ebb and flow of fuel prices across the United States, you can reliably count on California having some of the highest per-gallon costs in the nation. While that’s not entirely the fault of energy companies – California’s high tax rate on just about everything is a major factor here – oil firms are indeed raking in unprecedented profits right now and the government would much rather you focus on that than any role it might have likewise played. To that effect, Governor Gavin Newsom has announced new financial penalties for corporations accused of price-gouging wherever fueling is concerned.
Stellantis Paying $300 Million in Emission Fines, Seeking Plea Deal
Stellantis has reportedly agreed to plead guilty to criminal conspiracy charges relating to emissions requirements on over 100,000 diesel-powered Ram and Jeep products sold in the United States. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) was previously on the hook for $800 million in civil penalties over a so-called “defeat device” equipped to the automaker’s 3.0-liter turbo-diesel engine. Allegations began in 2017 as regulators were hunting for compliance violations in the wake of Volkswagen’s massive emissions scandal from a couple of years earlier.
Nikola to Pay $125 Million to Settle Fraud Charges, Founder in Dutch
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.
Tesla Sued Over Supercharging Fees, Broken Promises
Tesla is being sued in California by an owner that’s claiming the automaker broke its promise of a lifetime of free charging after it started imposing fees upon people who allowed their cars to sit at stations for too long. For those of you that don’t recall, Tesla began rolling out its Supercharger network in 2012 and promised unlimited free charging as a way to entice early adopters. While it doesn’t pertain to all vehicles and has existed in various incarnations, gratis electricity was available on most properly equipped Model S and Model X purchased by 2016. But the deal has existed in various incarnations through 2020 and has been confusing customers almost as much as the apparently bogus self-driving suite.
As the brand became more popular, you’d start seeing Tesla owners populating Supercharging stations in greater numbers and chattering about their interests. Unfortunately, those extended diatribes on the merits of TEDx and spending a fortune on minimalist interior home design resulted in stations being occupied but going unused. To discourage this Tesla began imposing fines in 2016, noting that it hoped never to make money on the updated arrangement.
Hyundai Recalling 129,000 U.S. Cars Over Engine Fire Risk, Fined By Regulators
Hyundai Motor Co. is recalling roughly 129,000 vehicles sold in the United States over an engine issue that may pose a fire risk. While we’ve been generally kind to the manufacturer of late, thanks to a rather good lineup of well-designed vehicles, it’s been mucking things up with recalls.
Last week, Hyundai Motor Group (including Kia) agreed to shell out up to $210 million in civil penalties after American safety regulators said it was dragging its feet on enacting a recall that encompassed 1.6 million automobiles. Apparently, there was some confusion on what needed to be reported to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. But let’s begin with the latest problem covering the company’s 2.4, 2.0, and 1.6-liter engines.
FCA Could Face $840 Million in New U.S. Regulatory Fees
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has said that it might be looking at $840 million if it wants to settle a Justice Department investigation into excess diesel emissions and threw some mild shade at regulators.
The manufacturer noted that the U.S. appeals court’s August ruling that overturned the Trump administration’s July 2019 rule that suspended a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration regulation more than doubling emissions penalties for automakers is playing a major factor in that sum. Obviously, it wishes they hadn’t.
Honda Pooling With Tesla for EU Emissions Compliance
Honda Motor Co. will be accompanying Fiat Chrysler Automobiles in pooling its emissions with electric vehicle manufacturer Tesla in an attempt to adhere to CO2 limits mandated by the European Union. For 2020, the average emissions of all vehicles sold within the region must not exceed 95 grams of CO2 per kilometer. Companies failing to comply will be forced to pay the government sizable fines as it readies even higher targets for next year.
Over half of automakers planning to move product inside Europe next year are already assumed to fail however, resulting in a series of rushed hybrid/EV products, the obliteration of the diesel-powered passenger vehicles, and companies desperate to team up with the manufacturers that came in under the regulatory limits.
Jaguar Land Rover Prepares to Pay $118 Million in Emissions Fines
Jaguar Land Rover is putting 90 million pounds ($118 million) into its rainy day fund in case it’s fined by the European Union for failing to meet CO2 emission-reduction targets. Delays in launching plug-in hybrid models, stalled by WLTP efficiency estimates that didn’t quite reach a best-case scenario, have left the automaker above the allotted EU fleet average of 95 grams per kilometer.
“We are not happy that we will not be compliant in 2020, but a lot of that has been taken out of our hands,” JLR CFO Adrian Mardell said during Tuesday’s quarterly earnings call with investors.
Facing Emission Fines, Ford Becomes Ravenous for Carbon Credits
Ford is joining the lengthening list of automakers that cannot adhere to European emissions mandates this year and is pursuing the popular option of simply buying carbon credits from rivals who managed to sell more than a few electrified vehicles.
Under the EU rules, manufacturers can “earn” carbon credits by selling more EVs. But legacy automakers were hamstrung all year by the pandemic and Ford is on the hook for a recall of its Kuga (Escape) PHEV. The Blue Oval recalled almost 21,000 examples of the plug-in hybrid in August, asking owners not to drive the crossover in its electric-only mode and to avoid charging the battery. While alarming in its own right, Ford said the recall effectively makes it impossible for it to meet 2020 EU emission quotas. It is now seeking partners for an “open emissions pool” and is hardly the only manufacturer doing this.
Nissan to Keep Closer Tabs on Dealerships in 2021, Retailers Annoyed
After enduring a series of rough years resulting in some unsettling financial reports, Nissan is doing its utmost to turn things around. Following its first annual loss in 11 years, the company announced a plan that would include cutting 20 percent of its global lineup to make way for newer models, eliminating unnecessary production capacity, and cutting corners (and jobs) just about everywhere in order to save $2.8 billion off of fixed costs. This is also being done to make way for a leaner, meaner Nissan, and make room for newer vehicles it believes will be essential to remain competitive.
It’s also hoping to spruce up dealerships to make them more desirable locales for customers ready to do their business. That includes an increased number of factory audits moving into 2021 — partly as a way to make up for the limited number that were conducted this year thanks to the pandemic and partly as a way to make sure nobody is doing anything financially untoward. But there are some concerns among owners that Nissan may end up bullying shops unnecessarily.
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.
Volkswagen Pleads Guilty, Canucks Hand Wolfsburg a Record Bill
While it absolutely pales in comparison to the fines levied in the United States, Volkswagen will still have to fork over a pile to appease the Canadians.
This week, the automaker pleaded guilty to 60 charges relating to its deception of regulators and consumers with emissions-rigged diesel vehicles. While $196.5 million sounds like small potatoes in this day and age, it happens to be the largest monetary fine for an environmental crime in the country’s history.
Daimler Investors Seeking 900 Million in Diesel Damages
Over 200 investors are seeking 900 million euros in damages over claims that Mercedes-Benz parent Daimler failed to disclose the use of emissions cheating devices similar to those that got Volkswagen into trouble back in 2015. This isn’t the first time the issue has come up. German prosecutors claimed nearly 690,000 Mercedes-Benz vehicles came equipped with rigged exhaust gas after-treatment systems and Daimler was slammed with a €870 million ($960 million) fine over the negligent violation of European clean air standards in the fall.
Those who invested into the firm are hoping to recoup losses from the scandal after the automaker’s share price shat the bed. Lawyers repressing the investors are seeking compensation after Daimler’s stock fell from €90 a share fall to approximately €60 in 2018, once German regulators began formally accusing the automaker of trying to circumvent emission rules.
FCA Faces $79 Million Fine Over U.S. Fuel Economy Shortfall
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is facing a $79 million civil penalty over its inability to adhere to fuel economy requirements in 2017. Considering the automaker was already hit with a $77 million fine for 2016 model year requirements, the announcement is not unexpected. FCA’s domestic lineup is also loaded with large vehicles featuring sizable motors, a status quo it hopes to offset by buying carbon credits from Tesla.
In fact, the company appears to be taking a wait-and-see approach in regard to pursuing greener automobiles. While it continues to maintain its $10 billion commitment through 2022, aimed at delivering more hybrid and electric vehicles, the automaker’s established strategy involves eating whatever penalties it incurs via federal economy requirements or attempting to pay them off in advance.
Ghosts From the Past Continue to Haunt Fiat Chrysler
Hauntings normally don’t cost the homeowner $40 million, but that’s what Fiat Chrysler faces after over-reporting monthly vehicle sales for a period of several years. Late last week, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission hit FCA with a fine for its now-corrected sales reporting practices, claiming the automaker misled investors.
FCA’s sales reporting trickery is also behind a lawsuit filed against the company by one of its top executives.