By on October 22, 2020

It hasn’t been what we would call a tranquil year for Continental. The German parts supplier spent the summer preparing for one of the worst financial periods in its 149-year history and apologizing for its involvement with the National Socialist German Workers’ Party (Nazis) by hiring an independent researcher to chronicle their forced-labor practices in detail. The dark trip down memory lane served as a strange interlude from the company’s financial concerns, which re-manifested in September when Continental announced it would have to eliminate around 13 percent of its existing staff  or about 30,000 employees.

News has broken that the supplier’s 2020 troubles didn’t end there. German prosecutors also made their rounds on September 22nd, stopping at Continental facilities in Hanover and Regensburg as part of an ongoing investigation into Volkswagen’s Dieselgate fiasco from 2015.

(Read More…)

By on October 1, 2020

Dennis Williams, the former president of the United Auto Workers, pleaded guilty to embezzling union funds on Wednesday. His copping to the conspiracy charge comes after his successor, Gary Jones, similarly pleaded guilty to misappropriating more than $1.5 million from the UAW in June. They’re joined by numerous co-conspirators that have been caught in a gigantic federal probe hoping to address union corruption and appears to have hit pay dirt.

Appearing by video in the U.S. District Court in Detroit, Williams entered his plea and apologized about the current state of the UAW. “I want to close by apologizing to this court, to my family and to each and every hard-working member paying dues,” he said. “I hope by accepting responsibility for my actions and for my failures, this process might help restore the faith in our union.” (Read More…)

By on September 14, 2020

Following a scathing report from Hindenburg Research that called Nikola a fraudulent company largely dependent upon the blind excitement surrounding electric vehicles, the accused has finally issued a response. On Monday, Nikola released a bulleted letter suggesting the report was the act of an opportunistic short seller that was attempting to take advantage of the period immediately proceeding the announced partnership with General Motors. While Hindenburg didn’t exactly hide that aspect of itself in its own report, it frames the business as only profiting off companies that weren’t above board to begin with. It also received support from Citron Research, which said it likewise thought Nikola needed to be scoped out by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and promised to help pay for half of any legal fees incurred as a result of Hindenburg’s reporting.

Meanwhile, Nikola was crafting its rebuttal after founder Trevor Milton explained he had to wait on a comprehensive response because he was already in contact with the SEC. As his constant Twitter updates started to become counterproductive, this was likely a wise decision. The response dropped on Monday, clearing a handful of items up while making a bunch of other aspects seem even more suspect. (Read More…)

By on September 11, 2020

While we’ve suspected that electric vehicle startups and green tech, in general, is probably a little overvalued, we’ve never accused anyone of outright fraud. Burgeoning automakers have a tendency to over promise and under deliver. Throughout history, this has occasionally gotten them into serious trouble. But it’s also how the game is played, especially when you’re new to the scene and need to distinguish yourself from giant entities who would just as soon crush you in lieu of risking the eventual competition. Nikola is a perfect example of this and built a hype train so swift that legacy brands could only hope to buy it out or invest and share in the fruits of its labor before it sped away.

But what if it wasn’t ever growing any industrial fruit?

That’s the claim being made by Hindenburg Research — which specializes in short selling, pointing to firms on the cusp of financial disaster (hence the name), and attempting to bust businesses the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) might be interested in. The financial research firm has suggested that Nikola founder Trevor Milton had misrepresented what the company was actually capable of in terms of product, with the intent to mislead investors into thinking the company should be incredibly valuable. It reads like a hit piece and was accused by Milton of being just that. However, there are issues brought up in the report that are still worth examining.

(Read More…)

By on August 25, 2020

Honda Motor Co. has agreed to pay $84.2 million to settle an investigation conducted by American states regarding its use of the famously defective Takata airbags — units linked to numerous deaths and hundreds of injuries.

Honda recalled about 12.9 million vehicles (some of them Acura models) equipped with inflation devices that ran the risk of accumulating moisture to the point where the propellant inside could destabilize, leading to an overly forceful explosion during an impact. Upon rupturing, these units could effectively spray shrapnel into the cabin area.

While Honda’s first major recalls were enacted in 2008, by 2013 millions of vehicles were in the process of being retracted by rival manufacturers that also used Takata as a supplier. And it just kept getting bigger until it was the largest recall in history, with Honda receiving the most ire due to the high number of fatalities suffered within its vehicles — and for having prior knowledge of the defects. (Read More…)

By on August 10, 2020

Nissan

Advanced driving aids have been slighted once again. This time, the Center for Auto Safety is asking Nissan to issue a safety recall on several models it believes have received too many customer complaints about their automatic emergency braking systems.

It also claims the manufacturer is already aware of the situation, after filing an public-information requests that showed Nissan being in possession of more than 1,400 complaints and field reports alleging the systems are activating when they shouldn’t. The company is also on the receiving end of some lawsuits over the matter.

We’d hate to harp on Nissan more than necessary. The manufacturer already has a laundry list of problems it’s hoping to solve, and there’s clear evidence that advanced driving aids are acting goofy across the board — especially as they become more commonplace. Last week, we reported on another AAA assessment encompassing multiple brands that once again showed just how reliable these electronic nannies aren’t. (Read More…)

By on July 29, 2020

Following requests from Senator Tom Carper (D-DE) for a formal investigation into whether the Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient (SAFE) Vehicle Rules proposed by the Trump administration violates the Clean Air Act (or some currently undetermined regulatory requirement that might stop it from coming to fruition), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Inspector General said it will indeed evaluate the emissions rollback.

As the ranking minority member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, Carper’s opposition to the fuel rollback is to be expected. With politicians unwilling to find common ground and engage in good-faith discussions that might result in some amount of compromise in service to the people, opposition tactics have devolved into partisan lawsuits and trying to halt the new rules over technicalities. (Read More…)

By on July 1, 2020

German prosecutors have incorporated Continental into a probe aimed at determining whether Volkswagen Group cheated on emissions testing. While confessing to the crime in the United States years earlier is a fairly good indication of corporate guilt, Germany wants to make extra sure VW was in the wrong and has branched out its investigation to include suppliers that may have played a role.

On Wednesday, the automaker acknowledged it had been subjected to yet another probe after investigators arrived to comb through its offices. The same treatment was given to supplier Continental, which is suspected of having some sort of involvement in a scandal the automotive industry can’t quite seem to move on from.  (Read More…)

By on June 25, 2020

kia

Having both forward driving lights illuminated after dark is a key element of road safety; one most automakers nailed long ago, at least until their vehicles start really getting on in years. Even then, a new bulb should be all a driver ever needs to keep the path ahead well lit.

Not so for some Kia Sorento owners. Enough consumer complaints have rolled in to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that the federal agency has opened an investigation. (Read More…)

By on June 24, 2020

Over the weekend, NASCAR incurred what was assumed to be a racist incident after a member of outspoken Richard Petty Motorsports driver Bubba Wallace’s team claimed someone had hung a noose in Wallace’s garage. Earlier in the month, the diver released a new livery on his No. 43 Chevrolet promoting Black Lives Matter, saying he and his team stood in broad support of the organization. He also requested NASCAR ban the Confederate flag from all future events — getting his wish and causing a minor ruckus within the community.

The context helped frame the noose that appeared in his garage on Sunday as a racist action and drew massive support from every corner of the sport. Richard Petty came out to said he would stand with Wallace and practically everyone walked with him down Talladega’s pit lane in solidarity. NASCAR President Steve Phelps likewise expressed his backing for Wallace on Monday, saying whoever committed the hateful act would be barred from the sport for life.

This was followed by Northern District of Alabama U.S. Attorney Jay Town saying his office had launched an investigation along with the FBI and the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division. The wheels of justice were put swiftly into motion, but it turned out that the noose was just a door pull someone had set up in 2019.   (Read More…)

By on June 24, 2020

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said Tuesday it has launched an investigation into Tesla’s Model S. Frequent complaints have arisen of the vehicle’s media control unit going on the fritz and knocking out the vehicle’s touchscreen.

We’ve seen several outlets minimize the issue by suggesting gaps in Tesla’s Autopilot should be seen as more pressing. Apparently, many see potentially faulty touchscreens as small potatoes. But we can’t agree; not when they happen to operate the brunt of the car’s auxiliary functions, and we’ve heard reports of this very problem for years. If you need a refresher course, we covered the matter extensively in the fall of 2019. The gist is that the embedded Multi-Media Controller (eMMC) on MCUv1 units seem to be overworked. Constantly logging data is tough on the system, and this setup didn’t appear to be capable of handling the high load, resulting in flash-memory wear.  (Read More…)

By on May 20, 2020

Every time we think the United States’ fueling fracas had concluded, something new emerges to remind us that we’re utter morons. Despite the Trump administration finally wrapping up the fuel rollback of Obama-era emission standards on March 31st, Senator Tom Carper (D-DE) has sent another letter asking Environmental Protection Agency Inspector General Sean O’Donnell to look into the new rules.

Carper asked the inspector general last February to conduct an investigation into “potentially unlawful efforts and procedural problems” stemming from their implementation. His assertion is that the EPA was circumventing various procedural requirements and attempted to hide data that would have conflicted with some of the rollback’s claimed benefits.

Did it?
(Read More…)

By on January 27, 2020

Ford badge emblem logo

Ford Motor Co. has agreed to settle a class-action lawsuit with almost 2 million owners and former owners of Focus and Fiesta models equipped with the now infamous six-speed dual-clutch PowerShift transmission. Internally referenced as the DSP6, the unit was a known problem prior to installation. Last year’s scathing report in the Detroit Free Press showed its dark history in gory detail, indicating the automaker had painted itself into a corner and ignored warnings from both engineers and legal advisors not to use the DSP6.

Complaints of vehicles shuddering and stalling, bizarre delays between gear changes, and even full-blown failures to go into gear began streaming in — leaving Ford to pick up the pieces and attempt to downplay the failure as much as possible. Unfortunately, more engineers came forward to bash the transmission over its development and implementation. Johnny-on-the-spot for the topic, the Detroit Free Press recently reported that Ford agreed to settle — with one of the lawyers brokering the deal saying the payout could exceed $100 million.

We’ve also learned how much money Ford spent repurchasing defective vehicles through a voluntary arbitration program conducted during the legal appeal. Court documents state the company bought back 2,666 vehicles for around $47,500,000 between October 2017 and December 2019.  (Read More…)

By on January 21, 2020

Following confirmation from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) that it will look into a petition calling on the agency to formally investigate 500,000 Tesla vehicles over reports of unintended acceleration, the automaker took to the internet to defend itself.

On Monday, Tesla issued a blog post to say the allegations against it are wrong. It believes claims of unintended acceleration are erroneous, pushed by someone hoping to scoop up Tesla shares at a lower price so they can be swiftly flipped.

The short-seller defense is a popular one with CEO Elon Musk. He’s previously called short sellers “value destroyers,” repeatedly suggesting that the practice should be made illegal. But it’s also in his interest to keep Tesla’s stock ludicrously high, which it is. Despite being several times smaller than either General Motors or Ford, Tesla’s market worth has surpassed their combined value.  (Read More…)

By on January 21, 2020

Mitsubishi is under investigation by German prosecutors for the suspected use of illegal defeat devices on diesel engines. As usual, the probe was kicked off by a series of raids — practically a cliche at this point.

Germany has certainly ran with the concept after U.S. regulators faulted Volkswagen for using illegal defeat devices to cheat diesel emission testing procedures in 2015. The reality is that regulators are cracking down the world over since the scandal, with Deutschland taking extra precautions to ensure other domestic brands don’t shame themselves like VW did.

Investigators are looking at 1.6-liter and 2.2-liter 4-cylinder Euro 5 and Euro 6 diesel engines and asking individuals who own Mitsubishi models (built after 2014) with those units to contact the police.  (Read More…)

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