General Motors Files Racketeering Lawsuit Against Fiat Chrysler

First Up 11/21/19

Beltway Talk Podcast: Q&A with Toyota's Director of Public Policy Communications
In this latest Beltway Talk we take the opportunity to pick the brain of Ed Lewis, Director of Public Policy Communications at Toyota. Ed gives us an update on Toyota’s activity in Washington, D.C., and discusses trade, fuel regulations, and why Toyota’s dealers are so critical to their mission as a company. Listen in and subscribe by clicking here. 

General Motors Files Racketeering Lawsuit Against Fiat Chrysler
General Motors Co. accused Fiat Chrysler Automobiles of bribing union negotiators to gain a competitive advantage, triggering an unusual legal dispute between crosstown rivals by filing a federal racketeering lawsuit, reports The Wall Street Journal. In its suit filed in Michigan, GM accuses its rival of corrupting the collective bargaining process in 2011 and 2015, as well as implementation of a 2009 agreement, to solidify a labor cost advantage for Fiat Chrysler. The Detroit automaker alleges Fiat Chrysler executives obtained advantageous contract terms from the UAW by paying off union leaders, a corruption scheme that federal prosecutors have been investigating for several years and that led to guilty pleas by three Fiat Chrysler employees. GM said the bribes were authorized by then-Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne, who died last year. Read more here (subscription required). 

North American Car, Truck, Utility of the Year Jury Names Finalists
The jury is in – well, almost. We won’t learn who takes home the trophies for North American Car, Truck and Utility Vehicle of the Year until mid-January, but the 50 journalist members of the jury did reveal the nine finalists for the eagerly sought awards, three in each of the categories, reports The Detroit Bureau. Jurors – including myself – have spent much of the year driving and experiencing one of the largest crops of new products ever launched in a single model-year, the current list of finalists coming out of a nearly week-long drive event in Michigan last month. Marking the lead-up to NACTOY’s 27th round of awards, the list of finalists was just slightly dominated by domestic models – but only because Detroit manufacturers captured all three of the spots in the truck category. Korean marques Hyundai and Kia had three of the remaining six spots. Notably, Japanese automakers took only one of the nine finalist positions. Read more here.

Gary Jones Resigns as UAW President, as Union Moved to Expel Him
United Auto Workers President Gary Jones resigned Wednesday amid a federal corruption investigation targeting him for embezzling more than $1.5 million in union funds, capping a steep fall for one of the country's most powerful labor leaders. Jones'  lawyer revealed the resignation to The Detroit News less than an hour after the union's governing International Executive Board moved to remove Jones and UAW Region 5 Director Vance Pearson from their elected positions and expel them from the union. “After much discussion with his family and friends, Gary has elected to resign his position as UAW president and retire effective immediately,” Jones' lawyer, Bruce Maffeo, told The News on Wednesday afternoon. UAW spokesman Brian Rothenberg said Wednesday evening he could not comment on the resignation because he wasn't sure if the union had received notice. Read more here. 

Senators Demand Answers on the Safety of Self-Driving Cars
Members of a U.S. Senate committee Wednesday questioned whether the Trump administration is doing enough to protect the public from self-driving cars under development in dozens of states. According to The Detroit Free Press, a day after a federal investigatory board made recommendations in the aftermath of a pedestrian being killed by a self-driving test vehicle in March 2018, several senators raised concerns that federal agencies still don’t require safety assessments from companies testing self-driving vehicles and haven’t put in place specific standards for the development of autonomous vehicles.  “What’s wrong with having minimum safety standards now?” asked Sen. Marie Cantwell, D-Washington, as she questioned officials with the U.S. Department of Transportation and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which oversees federal standards on vehicles. “We’ve had people testify they don’t want to see them (self-driving cars) in their cul-de-sac because they don’t know what they’re doing.” Read more here.  

Around the Web

9 Great Early Black Friday Deals for the Techy Car Enthusiast [Autoblog]

The 10 Most Stolen Cars and Trucks [Car and Driver]

Mercedes-Benz U.S. Chief Says Word of Mouth is the Best Way to Sell EVs [CNBC]

FCC Seeks to Strip Much of Safety Spectrum From Auto Industry [Automotive News]