Auto Industry News: Waymo Clears the Air, More VW Drama, A Nasty E-450 Build, & Trucks Stolen from Assembly Line

Former VW CEO Charged in United States Over Diesel Scandal

On Thursday, VW’s ex-CEO Martin Winterkorn was charged in the US with conspiracy to mislead regulators about the company’s diesel emissions cheating. Winterkorn resigned in November 2015, after catching wind of the severity of the scandal. The indictment, filed in March, ultimately charges Winterkorn with the aforementioned conspiracy, wire fraud, and violating the Clean Air Act. The allegations say this took place “from at least May 2006 through November 2015.” There have been nine people charged, two of whom have already pleaded guilty. According to Autoblog, six of the former Volkswagen executives charged are in Germany and have avoided facing U.S. prosecutors because Germany typically does not extradite its citizens. Winterkorn is reportedly not currently in custody, and VW has yet to make an official statement.


Google Minivan Involved In Crash NOT In Autonomous Mode

Never safe from scandal itself, the autonomous realm was actually the victim of sensationalized reporting last week. A Google Waymo-operated minivan was involved in an Arizona crash, and initial reports (coinciding with the police’s) claimed the vehicle was in autonomous mode at the time of the accident. But updates have now come out via Waymo, saying the vehicle was actually in manual mode. Local news has since reported that the van was not at fault, being that it was actually struck by another swerving vehicle. Thankfully, there were only minor injuries reported, and further details of the collision will likely emerge as an investigation continues. Though autonomous vehicles are still working out their obvious bugs, it is important that our news outlets value accuracy over speed.

Eight Ram Trucks Stolen in Michigan Assembly Plant Heist

Now here’s a headline worth checking out. In perfect synchronicity with the release of the new Ocean’s movie, a group of Detroit thieves were able to successfully jack eight Dodge Rams fresh off the assembly line. They reportedly cut a hole in the chain link fence to let in more accomplices, who then crashed the trucks through the plant gate and fled. One truck has been recovered, abandoned in downtown Detroit, and another was found behind an abandoned home with its keys still in the ignition. Given the ease of the crime, it is possible that the heist was an inside job. But police have yet to specify anything other than that trucks were likely chop shop bound. There is still no word on the other six missing vehicles.


Crafty Flatbed E-450 Build

Take a look at the alterations of this 1999 Ford E-450 Van turned flatbed stud. It’s got 7.3-liter Power Stroke that provides power to the rear wheels only. But it is perfect for hauling any reasonable load. Actually, there is nothing reasonable about the bed, which is an astounding 14 feet long, thanks to the shortened cab. But “reasonable” isn’t why we’re here. I mean, c’mon, look at that custom camo paint job. And if you can believe it, this thing is for sale. The owner has put a lot of work into it. This includes an updated transmission, so perhaps that makes the $13K price tag and 200,000-mile mark a little less daunting. Either way, though, it is one hell of a machine.


Around the Circuit

In the monster truck world, it’s all about dominance, and no truck has been doing it better than the Raminator. The Raminator, holds a Guinness World Record for reaching 99.1 mph with a 2,000 horsepower, 565 cubic inch, V-8 supercharged Hemi engine. That record still stands from 2014, and the Raminator team is always ready to defend it. Its builders, the Hall Brothers, will have the truck out on tour for fans to see this spring! Check out the dates here!

While we love drag racing for the thrill and danger of the sport, it is far too often that we lose passionate drivers. On Saturday, Top Sportsman racer Randy Alexander of Harvest, Alabama, died after a high-speed crash during the Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway in Commerce, Georgia. What’s worse is that the accident occurred after Alexander crossed the finish line. He lost control of his ’63 Corvette while trying to slow down, swerving into competitor Bob Mandell, who was still moving near 200 mph. Mandell walked away unharmed.

In NASCAR, Kevin Harvick got back on track with a win at Dover. On a rainy Sunday, the veteran outgunned teammate Clint Bowyer and Daniel Suárez, who finished second and third respectively. It is the fourth win of the season for Harvick after he kicked off the season with three consecutive wins. And most importantly, it keeps him third in the overall series standings.

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