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10 Nov 2021
The U.S.

The U.S. auto safety regulator announced its first-ever whistleblower award, handing out more than $24 million to a former Hyundai Motor employee who provided key information about safety lapses at the South Korean automaker. According to law firm Constantine Cannon, which represented the whistleblower, the award to former Hyundai engineer Kim Gwang-ho is the biggest ever in a whistleblower case in the auto sector globally.
It comes as the U.S. regulator, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and the U.S. Department of Transportation prepare to propose regulations related to an automotive whistleblower program, the Congress created in 2015. By law, the agency is allowed to award 30% of collected penalties to a whistleblower who gives significant information resulting in action that brings penalties of over $1 million.
Kim reported to NHTSA in 2016 that Hyundai was failing to address a design flaw linked to its Theta II engines, which were prone to seizing up and even catching fire. Steven Cliff, NHTSA’s Deputy Administrator while announcing the award, said:
“Whistleblowers play a crucial role in bringing information to NHTSA about serious safety problems that are hidden from the agency. This award (to Kim Gwang-ho) is the maximum percentage allowed by law, and is the first award NHTSA has issued under its authority.”
The U.S. safety agency opened its probe in 2017 after Hyundai recalled about 470,000 vehicles in September 2015 because debris from manufacturing could restrict oil flow to connecting rod bearings. That could make the bearings wear out and fail, potentially causing the four-cylinder Theta II engines to stall or catch fire. The repair was an expensive engine block replacement.
NHTSA said in investigation documents that Hyundai limited the recall to engines made before April 2012, saying it solved the manufacturing problem after that. In addition, Kia didn’t recall its cars and SUVs with the same 2.4L and 2.0L Theta II engines, contending they were made on a different assembly line at a plant in Alabama. However, 18 months after the 2015 recall, both automakers announced recalls of 1.2 million more vehicles for the same problem, including models the automakers originally said weren’t affected, NHTSA said when it opened the investigation.
Engine failure and fire problems with Hyundai's and Kia have plagued the companies for more than 5 years, affecting the owners of more than 8 million vehicles so far.

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10 Nov 2021
Greenpeace have sued Volkswagen in a German court, accusing the automaker for “fueling the climate crisis” and failing to do its part to combat climate change.

Greenpeace have sued Volkswagen in a German court, accusing the automaker for “fueling the climate crisis” and failing to do its part to combat climate change. The claimants, environmental activist Clara Mayer and the heads of Greenpeace Germany had given Volkswagen 8 weeks to consider their demands, which included ending production of internal combustion engine cars by 2030 and reducing carbon emissions by at least 65% from 2018 levels by then, before filing the suit. According to Reuters, VW rejected the demands on October 28.
Martin Kaiser, Greenpeace Germany’s Executive Director, said car manufacturers such as Volkswagen need to take responsibility and act much faster to phase out the highly-polluting internal combustion engines, and de-carbonize their activities with no further delay. In a statement, Kaiser said “Negotiations at COP26 in Glasgow indicate that the 1.5-degree target is at stake and can only be met with a bold change of course in politics and business,” citing the ongoing UN climate change summit which aims to limit the rise in average global temperature to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) compared with pre-industrial levels. “But while people suffer from floods and droughts triggered by the climate crisis, CO2 emissions from transport continue to rise,” he added.
If the lawsuit is successful, two gigatonnes less CO2 will be emitted by 2040 compared with VW’s current plans, Greenpeace Germany said. That equates to more than twice the annual global aviation emissions, according to the NGO. However Volkswagen told Reuters that it “stands for climate protection and de-carbonizing the transport sector, but it cannot tackle this challenge alone. The task of designing appropriate measures belongs to Parliament. Civil court disputes through lawsuits against singled-out companies are not the place or way to do justice to this task of great responsibility.”
A similar case was filed in September by the heads of German environmental organization Deutsche Umwelthilfe against BMW and Daimler, when both companies also rejected demands to end production of fossil fuel-based cars by 2030 and limit CO2 emissions before then. The lawsuits draw on two prior climate-related legal battles, since in May 2020, a German ruling said the country was failing to protect future generations from the consequences of climate change. In the same month, a Dutch ruling ordered oil firm Shell to reduce its emissions, the first time a private company was held responsible for its impact on the climate.


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geely_electric_truck.jpg
08 Nov 2021
Tesla Semi is no longer the coolest and most futuristic truck.

Tesla Semi is no longer the coolest and most futuristic truck. Chinese automaker Geely has announced the Homtruck electric truck specifically for truckers. It will be produced in both fully electric and hybrid versions.

Inside the cabin there is a panoramic roof, TV, bed, bathroom and kitchenette, built-in washing machine. An intelligent system for monitoring the general condition of the driver is also provided.


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