Auto Industry News: NASCAR Mogul Brian France Arrested, Massive Classic Car Scam, & Jeep Has Beef with Roxor

There’s an aura of negativity floating through this week’s auto industry news beginning with NASCAR mogul Brian France, “who was arrested in New York’s Hamptons for driving while intoxicated and criminal possession of oxycodone after he was seen blowing through a stop sign. France, the chairman and CEO of the auto racing behemoth, was arraigned Monday at Sag Harbor Village Justice Court after a night in jail and released on his own recognizance,” according to a police report. With NASCAR already under the microscope, could this be the dagger?

Also in this week’s news, Jeep has a beef they’re looking to settle with the Mahrindra Roxor, while Michelin moves toward a more plant-based diet. Meanwhile, the FBI nailed a classic car scam worth $4.5 million, and Tesla puts some points on the board with a recent sales report. In drag racing, the NHRA hits Seattle and in F1, Daniel Ricciardo jumps ship from Red Bull. Ready, set, let’s go!

$4.5 Million Classic Car Fraud

I love a good heist story as much as the next person—Gone in Sixty Seconds, Oceans 11, The Italian Job, Fast & Furious. But this, well, it went way too far. The FBI just shut down a massive scheme last week, taking down a ring of scammers who raked in $4.5 million from fake classic car ads. The ring posted ads on popular car sale sites, luring in potential buyers. And when they negotiated a price, the scammers then directed the buyer to “automotive transportation companies” that were, in fact, just shell corporations for the operation, shipping money out of the United States and sending no hot rod in return. In total, 25 people have been charged, and each defendant could face up to 50 years.

Jeep Looks to Squash Mahindra Roxor

You might remember the auto industry news in which we featured the Mahindra Roxor. It has informally been known as the “toy Jeep”, rising on the market for off-road and overlanding enthusiasts. But Jeep has begun legally pursuing the model for infringement of intellectual property. The claim states that Mahindra and its Roxor unlawfully sell “products that infringe and dilute FCA’s distinctive Jeep vehicle trade dress.” The complaint also emphasizes that FCA does not want the Roxor advertised or sold in the U.S. Do they have a case? More than likely; it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that Mahindra ripped a page from Jeep’s playbook to produce the Roxor. However, could such a case inspire Jeep to make a toy version of their own? An off-roader can dream…

Tesla Model 3 Making Moves

For the Tesla Model 3, the journey from assembly line to the public has been, uh um, interesting. But that isn’t stopping the current poster child of the EV game (for better or worse) from selling more units. Because as reported by GoodCarBadCar, the Model 3 has cracked the top ten in passenger car sales. In fact, it placed seventh for July sales, moving 14,250 vehicles for the month. Including all segments, even SUVs, the Tesla still finished 20th in overall sales. And here’s a tidbit that might give a better idea of Tesla’s influence. The top trade-ins for the Model 3 are the BMW 3 Series, the Honda Accord and Civic, the Nissan Leaf, and the Toyota Prius. So, despite the rough patch that was 2018 for the company, they must be doing something right.

Michelin Looks to Reinvent the Wheel

In other green ventures, Michelin seeks to change the way we think about tires, as well as their life after service. How? By implementing tires made from wood. Most tires are made with oil. In fact, 80 percent of the material in tires is oil-based and Michelin seeks to fix that.

The wood, in addition to being a renewable resource, would also be a cost effective option down the line, Michelin believes. Because, rather than changing their tires, a driver can have his or her tread reinvigorated with 3D printing. Once the tread reaches a level nearing unsafe, the 3D printer would then repair the treads for a much cheaper price than a set of new oil-based tires. Plus, wood-based tires would be far more eco-friendly in their decomposition, while many centuries old tires still litter the earth or end up burned in large quantities. It will certainly not be a speedy process, but Michelin hopes to compete with other green tire options and reduce the 80 percent of oil-based wheels to 20 percent by 2048. Here’s to a cleaner future!

Around the Circuit

But that’s not to say we can’t bask in the joy that is racers burning some rubber! The NHRA was in Seattle for the Northwest Nationals this past week and the action was nuts. Antron Brown smoked the competition in Top Fuel, putting himself back on track for the season after a disappointing stretch. It was business as usual for Ron Capps, who took home the Funny Car division, and Tanner Gray captured Pro Stock.

It certainly was a wild week in F1. Daniel Ricciardo has officially left Red Bull Racing. Even juicier, he is expected to join Renault on a two year deal rumored to be worth $70 million. McLaren was also said to be in the mix for a Ricciardo contract, but ultimately came up short. And if there is anything stable about the unpredictable world of F1, it is that after the summer break, there will be an added dose of drama—count us in!

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