By on October 8, 2019

Elon Musk

If you’ve grudgingly followed the unseamly goings-ons in the defamation case filed against Tesla CEO Elon Musk by a British cave diver, things just took a turn. Documents filed to a California federal court this week by Vernon Unsworth’s lawyers reveal a plotline worthy of a better-than-average sitcom.

In stating their client’s side of the story, Unsworth’s legal team showcased communications from from Musk, in which the CEO expressed regret for calling the cave diver “pedo guy” on Twitter and sending accusatory emails to a Buzzfeed reporter. It also seems that the private eye Musk hired to dig up dirt on Unsworth is a convicted fraudster who’s now back in jail for parole violation. (Read More…)

By on October 3, 2019

Sentries stand on guard for our safety, keeping watch over sleeping or unprotected persons, and Tesla’s “Sentry Mode” system pretty much does the same. While two-legged assailants can’t slip a Fairbairn-Sykes dagger between the digital guardian’s ribs to disable the feature, the external camera security system can, in return, set that assailant up for a date with the police.

That’s what happened when one Tesla went up against an angry Coloradoan. (Read More…)

By on October 1, 2019

Distracted driving is one the greatest scourges of our time, rivalling drunk driving as the roadgoing activity most likely to end in tragedy. Cell phones calls, texting, and cumbersome infotainment systems all contribute to a populace overwhelmed with distractions.

In light of this, the last thing any speeding driver needs is a massive roadside screen displaying a porno flick.  (Read More…)

By on September 30, 2019

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. (Read More…)

By on September 25, 2019

2015 Ram 1500 Laramie Crew Cab 4x4 EcoDiesel, Image: FCA

A senior manager who led the team of diesel engineers behind Fiat Chrysler’s maligned EcoDiesel V6 has been indicted by a grand jury on charges of conspiracy to mislead U.S. regulators and the public.

Following an investigation by the Department of Justice, Emanuele Palma, FCA’s senior manager of diesel driveability and emissions, faces multiple charges of conspiracy to defraud the U.S., wire fraud, and violation of the Clean Air Act. He’s also accused of lying to the FBI and Environmental Protection Agency investigators.

All of this stems from the EPA-led outcry over auxiliary emissions control devices found on the company’s previous-generation 3.0-liter diesel truck engine. (Read More…)

By on September 24, 2019

2000 Mercedes-Benz C230 in Colorado wrecking yard, hood ornament - ©2018 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

There’s a whiff of diesel in the air this morning, as all the news out of Europe seems to stem from compression-ignition trickery by German automakers. Hot on the heels of the indictment of Volkswagen boss Herbert Diess and his company’s chairman, Daimler finds itself on the hook for nearly $1 billion in fines in the same country.

The penalty comes by way of Germany prosecutors who claim some 684,000 Mercedes-Benz vehicles came equipped with rigged exhaust gas after-treatment systems. (Read More…)

By on September 24, 2019

Herbert Diess Jetta 2017

Methodical German prosecutors have finally made their way to the top of Volkswagen’s executive ranks, charging CEO Herbert Diess and Chairman Hans Dieter Poetsch with stock market manipulation.

On Tuesday, the prosecutor’s office in Braunschweig indicted Diess, Pötsch, and former CEO Martin Winterkorn, accusing the men of withholding information of a looming emissions scandal from investors. Winterkorn, already indicted by U.S. authorities and slapped with a fraud charge in Germany, stepped down shortly after the scandal broke in September 2015.

Diess vows to stay on as VW’s boss as the charges play out. (Read More…)

By on September 23, 2019

This could be case of a holster-sniffing wannabe of an exotic variety, or it could be an international incident.

You’re probably aware of folks who like to drive around in former police cruisers carrying as much cop-car equipment as the local officials will let pass without issuing a citation for impersonating a police officer. It’s not a trivial issue to law enforcement because some folks do go over the line into actually impersonating authorities, including committing crimes under cover of fraudulent authority.

What, then, to make of the man arrested by the California Highway Patrol who was driving around Irvine in a black Audi sedan with very authentic-looking decals for China’s People’s Armed Police? (Read More…)

By on September 16, 2019

Elon Musk + Tesla Model S Circa 2011

Man, it never ends. Removed from the many, many issues at play both inside and outside Tesla’s Palo Alto HQ, a lawsuit sparked by a childish spat between Tesla CEO Elon Musk and a British cave diver still hangs over Musk’s head.

If you don’t recall the ridiculous episode, Vernon Unsworth, who was instrumental in organizing the successful rescue of a Thai soccer team last summer, told Musk to shove his experimental, homemade submarine up his ass. Musk responded by referring to him as “pedo guy”on Twitter.

On Monday, Musk sought to have the defamation suit tossed out on the grounds that “pedo” could mean a lot of things. This is 2019, people, and it’s Silicon Valley.  (Read More…)

By on September 13, 2019

Image: UAW

Organized labor is helping keep the high-end cigar industry profitable, federal investigators implied Thursday. Following a years-long investigation into widespread corruption among the union’s upper ranks, agents arrested UAW Region 5 Director Vance Pearson yesterday, hitting him with charges of embezzlement, mail and wire fraud, money laundering, and conspiracy.

Pearson, 58, took over his position from current UAW president Gary Jones last year. Prior to that, he served as Jones’ right-hand man in the Missouri post. The charges laid against Pearson cite numerous unnamed officials who helped organize the embezzlement, with three sources telling The Detroit News that one of those figures is the big man himself.

Oh, and Detroit Three contracts expire Saturday night. (Read More…)

By on September 9, 2019

Ask Japanese media about Hiroto Saikawa’s status at Nissan and they’ll tell you he already has one and a half feet out the door. Following a report Sunday in Japan’s Nikkei, in which Saikawa allegedly told company executives of his plan to resign, the boss man himself admitted it’s true.

Speaking to the media, Saikawa, who was forced into contrition last week over revelations of excess compensation from an equity-linked remuneration scheme, said he wants to head out ASAP. His replacement will already be aware of the great challenges ahead. (Read More…)

By on September 5, 2019

Image: Nissan

Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa finds himself in hot water after an internal investigation revealed the head of the embattled automaker violated company procedure by taking part in a stock scheme that paid out more than it should have.

Saikawa, like other executives linked to the scheme, apologized and vowed to repay the excess compensation, claiming he assumed the scheme ⁠— orchestrated by ousted and jailed former alliance boss Carlos Ghosn ⁠— was above board. (Read More…)

By on September 4, 2019

The UAW news is pouring in on two fronts these days. For one, there’s the looming bargaining talks between the United Autoworkers Union and Detroit Three automakers, with General Motors leading the way. Then there’s the ongoing federal investigation into bribery and kickbacks at the highest levels of the UAW.

Just as GM is the initial focus of the contract negotiations, the union department tasked with dealing with the automaker is also the main focus of the FBI probe. On Wednesday, the most recently indicted former UAW official pleaded guilty to wire fraud, conspiracy, and money laundering. For his crimes, Mike Grimes, a former bargaining team member and administrative assistant to UAW Vice President Cindy Estrada who left the union in 2018, will have to forfeit $1.5 million in bribes. (Read More…)

By on August 28, 2019

The long-running federal probe into dirty dealings between domestic automakers and the United Auto Workers cranked up a few notches on Wednesday, with federal agents reportedly raiding the home of UAW President Gary Jones and ex-UAW boss Dennis Williams.

Sources told The Detroit News that raids were carried out in three states as investigators attempt to uncover just how high in the organization the corruption went. The move comes less than three weeks before UAW-Detroit Three contracts expire. (Read More…)

By on August 21, 2019

Walmart

No, Walmart was not using fleets of pricey electric vehicles to get 56-cents-a-pound bananas to budget-conscious shoppers; rather, the chain had outfitted a slew of its stores with rooftop solar panels assembled and managed by Tesla subsidiary SolarCity.

Now Walmart’s feeling burned. Literally.

Following rooftop blazes at at least seven stores and a recent investigation, the shopping giant filed a lawsuit against Tesla on Tuesday, alleging the company “engaged in widespread, systemic negligence and had failed to abide by prudent industry practices in installing, operating, and maintaining its solar systems.” (Read More…)

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