Stellantis To Pay $300 Million Criminal Penalty Over Diesel Emissions Cheating

2015 Jeep® Grand Cherokee Overland

Stellantis will pay a criminal penalty over diesel emissions, GM is fed up with flippers, Texas temporarily lifts some size and weight restrictions. All this and more in today’s issue of The Morning Dump.

Welcome to The Morning Dump, bite-sized stories corralled into a single article for your morning perusal. If your morning coffee’s working a little too well, pull up a throne and have a gander at the best of the rest of yesterday.

Stellantis To Pay $300 Million Fine Over Diesel Emissions

Stellantis diesel emissions
Photo credit: Ram

With civil penalties out of the way for Stellantis, it’s time for the Department of Justice to bring the criminal penalty hammer down over FCA US allegedly cheating diesel emissions standards on certain Ecodiesel-equipped Ram 1500s and Jeep Grand Cherokees. Reuters reported that criminal sentencing for the company happened on Monday, although three FCA employees still need to be tried for conspiracy.

The $300 million criminal penalty “is the result of an exhaustive three-year investigation,” said Assistant Attorney General Todd Kim. “This resolution shows that the Department of Justice is committed to holding corporate wrongdoers accountable for misleading regulators.”

The government noted FCA US had previously paid a $311 million civil penalty and more $183 million in compensation to over 63,000 people as part of a class-action diesel lawsuit.

Honestly, I’m not sure what this criminal penalty for diesel emissions will do. While an extra $300 million is a lot to you and I, it’s a slap on the wrist for such a large corporation like Stellantis. Then there’s the question of where the money goes. It would be nice if the entire penalty went towards righting environmental wrongs through processes like reforestation; according to the EPA, criminal penalties may be paid to the U.S. Treasury and/or used for restitution, though the EPA media release on this judgment doesn’t specify which the $300 million will go towards. Still, some form of justice is warranted.

Chevrolet Threatens To Void Flippers’ Warranties

2023 Chevrolet Corvette Z06
Photo credit: Chevrolet

When the mid-engined C8 Corvette first launched, GM found itself experiencing a bit of a problem. While MSRP was entirely reasonable, early-delivery models were being flipped for tens of thousands of dollars over MSRP. Looking to keep profits in-house and ensure that early units go to first owners who’ll cherish them, GM has put in place an agreement that would blacklist and void the warranties of Chevrolet Corvette Z06, Cadillac Escalade-V, and GMC Hummer EV flippers. Here are the clauses in GM’s customer acknowledgement form for Corvette Z06 buyers, verified to be real by The Autopian.

We are proud to have you as a customer and want all our loyal customers to receive the superior Chevrolet experience provided by their preferred dealer, avoiding speculators who may try to resell Corvette Z06 vehicles on the secondary market. We encourage you to cherish this special vehicle and to maintain possession for at least one full calendar year from the date on which you take delivery. If you decide to sell, or otherwise transfer ownership of, your 2023 Corvette Z06 within the first 12 months after delivery:

    1. You will be ineligible to place vehicle reservations or place a sold order with a dealer for certain high demand models (as identified by GM) including but not limited to future Corvette Z06.

    2. The Bumper-to-Bumper, Powertrain, Sheet Metal, Tire and Accessory coverages under GM’s New Vehicle Limited Warranty will be voided.

    3. You will not be eligible to receive the exclusive Z06 award of 500,000 My Chevy Rewards Points (a $5,000 value).

While there are ways that really clever flippers might be able to get around this, like registering the car to an LLC and selling the LLC including all assets, GM’s new rules should make it a lot more difficult to casually flip high-demand models. Honestly, it’s about damn time some controls came down as flipping is bad for almost everyone. A void warranty is a fairly severe turn-off for would-be second-hand buyers, plus blackballing flippers just seems like a solid practice. If anything, the $5,000 back to spend on servicing, accessories, or car payments is just icing on the cake for buyers intent on actually enjoying their Z06s.

Hyundai’s On A Five Month Sales Slide

Large 46445 2022elantra
Photo credit: Hyundai

Hey, now that July’s over, let’s check on the new car market. According to Automotive News, Hyundai and Kia sales are down for the fifth month in a row

The automakers said sales dropped 11 percent last month, mostly on weaker car volume. Only four Hyundai models – Accent, Santa Cruz, Tucson and Veloster – posted higher deliveries last month. At Kia, only two models, the Sorento and Sportage crossovers, generated gains.

In one bright spot, combined sales of electric vehicles, hybrids and plug-in hybrids rose 12 percent at Hyundai and 86 percent at Kia, the companies reported Tuesday, though volumes remain low.

Hyundai said it ended July with 14,784 light vehicles in U.S. inventory, down slighty [sic] from 17,922 at the close of June but off sharply from 46,113 at the end of July 2021.

Much to the annoyance of everyone, it seems like the car market is still indeed fucked. A 68-percent year-over-year inventory drop is bad news, especially considering that catching up to market demand gets tougher with each month this inventory shortage rages on. Mind you, there is a tiny tidbit of good news here: Veloster sales are up and the only Veloster sold in America is the N. Are people just revenge-buying hot hatchbacks? If so, kudos, that rules pretty hard.

Texas Temporarily Suspends Commercial Vehicle Weight Limits For Disaster Relief

Super Duty Towing Hay
Photo credit: Texas Farm Bureau

Overloading can be a funny thing. While it’s really easy to max out the GVWR of a subcompact car one one good hardware store run, overloading is generally regarded as dangerous and illegal, especially in the commercial vehicle world. Rarely is it ever government-sanctioned, but it’s 2022 and here we are. Commercial vehicle size and weight limits have been temporarily suspended in Texas, so long as disaster relief is the purpose for overloading. Texas Farm Bureau reports that these limits were initially lifted in March due to a drought, then amended in July.

“Farmers and ranchers are hauling hay, feed, water and other resources. With the requirements lifted, more product can be added to each trip, which helps save on fuel and time,” Tracy Tomascik, Texas Farm Bureau associate director of Commodity and Regulatory Activities, said.

The oversize and overweight permitting requirements under Transportation Code Chapters 621 through 623, as well as Title 43, Chapter 219 of the Texas Administrative Code, are for all divisible and non-divisible vehicles and loads.

Examples of disaster assistance include, but are not limited to, vehicles engaged in the transportation of relief workers, food, hay, water, clothing, equipment, medical supplies, materials, fuel, shelter and other supplies to the disaster areas, as well as vehicles used to restore utilities and to remove debris from the disaster areas listed in the disaster declaration.

While hauling 20,000 pounds of hay on two 7,000 pound axles behind a half-ton pickup truck probably isn’t advisable, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a picture like that coming out of the Lone Star State. Still, weight and size restrictions are largely a cost-benefit balance from a legislative perspective, and the benefits of drought relief and possible fuel savings make potential for road and property damage seem possibly worth it.

The Flush

Whelp, time to drop the lid on today’s edition of The Morning Dump. It’s officially Tuesday, aren’t we just rolling through the week? Speaking of rolling, I have a question for you: what’s a set of wheels you’ve been lusting after lately? Maybe you want soft 8s to finish off your ratty Nova, maybe you want to be a hotboy and run gold BBS RS wheels on your ‘80s ride, maybe you’re looking into shaving unsprung weight by picking up some SSR Type Cs. Whatever the case, I’d love to know what wheels you just need to have.

Lead photo credit: Stellantis

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39 Responses

  1. I’m really looking forward to a set of Apex SM-10s for the 2-series. Sadly no one makes an affordable 8-spoke RS Watanabe-style wheel in my lug pattern, much less 18in diameter, but if they did I’d love to get some to emulate the look of the 2002.

  2. Hi Thomas, quick note – I hesitate to write this for fear of triggering, but I would encourage the good folks at Autopian to take a good look at the discussion around using terms like ‘blacklist’ and ‘blackballing’ before including them in your editorial. I’m not claiming to know the answer here, but I think in most cases there are plenty of other words we can use that will eliminate the need to argue about the rights and wrongs of using words that might offend a chunk of your readership.

    I know Jason has had a similar conversation about his love of ‘strong’ language, but it’s basically impossible to write about his fleet without using the word shitbox, so there are some extenuating circumstances.

    1. Also, please refrain from any pop-culture reference to James Spader or imbed any videos from Black Flag or the last good album from Metallica. Oh, and never refer to billiards or a pirate’s facial hair status. Since we are at it, please never mention the visible opacity of tinted windows/trims. Thanks! (or is that “thanx”?)

      Relax, friend. It’s not that serious. Sheesh.

  3. Part of my job is dealing with GVWRs. Most truck components are designed to handle much higher weights than they are rated for. While no engineer would condone overloading a vehicle, we know it’s done and accounted for in our safety factors. Texas is just taking a calculated risk knowing most of these vehicles are over-engineered.

    There are some South American markets we design vehicles to handle twice the rated GVWR. If it’s flat(ish), it’s a seat. If a person can grab it and have a 1″ toehold nearby, someone will hang-on.

    1. Yeah, as much as overloading is a big deal when it comes to commercial incentives for dangerous situations, this is a non-issue for me. I would anticipate some enterprising local businesses abusing it, but like you said, there’s some decent margins of error anyways, so it’s a wash.

      To be honest, the weight is less of a concern for me than our general commercial licensing weight restrictions or our lack of inspections. Mind boggling that I can go from a 2400lb hatchback to a rotted out dually with 25,999 on the tongue with no training.

    2. A huge issue here is pavement damage. In the USA, pavements are designed to 18,000lb axles. I’m not a pavement engineer, but I spend a lot of time around pavement engineers and I’m told that going from 18,000 to 20,000 on a single axle basically doubles the damage – it’s not a linear relationship between weight and stress/strain. Overweight axles tear up our roads, and that’s one big reason for the weight limits.

      If we want to run heavier axle weights, that’s fine but then we need our engineers to design stronger pavements (and bridges), and those stronger pavements and bridges will cost more.

    3. The foreign market weight specs are some of the most sensible spec’ing ever.
      EVERYTHING gets overloaded in some countries. I think my personal favorite is seeing motorcycles hauling logs

  4. Well, I posted last week about my vehicle running out of oil. After calls to multiple Hyundai dealers with no response, and a general lack of additional info to go on, we decided to call it and just donate the vehicle. It’s too cheap of a car to be worth the time and hassle of Craigslist or setting up a Facebook account just to resell a tiny hatchback with a blown engine and manual transmission. I’ll be sad to see it go, but such is life. Sucks to take the financial hit but honestly all things said and done, I got 5 years of life and 60k miles for around $11k, and I’m pretty happy with that.

    In good news, I talked with my partner, and since we were planning on getting a vehicle next year anyways to replace her ancient (yet lovable) ’06 Kia, we’re gonna become a one car household and order a Maverick this September. Never thought I’d buy a truck, but…it’s cheap, it’s a hybrid, it’s small enough my partner is willing to drive it, and lord knows I could use a truck.

    Anyone wanna guess how many trees you can fit in a 2012 Hyundai Accent? It’s 74 (and 5 of them were over 6ft!). Also, it’s still driveable even with over 1000 liters of water/sports drinks and a passenger, albeit a little hard on the clutch. I’ll miss the damn thing, but man I would love to have a bed for all the tools and other shit I’ve forced into that poor car.

    As for wheels…I wish I had a set of black Saab 900 tri-spokes. My favorite wheel of all time, and they look good on anything (probably). Over/under on whether they’ll look good on a Maverick?

  5. This flush is easy for me: Method Race Wheels VT-spec 15x7s. I really like the Sparco Terra, but they’re much heavier than stock. The Methods will give me a bit more sidewall, they’re stronger & lighter than Sparcos-important in a turbo4-and still clear all but STI brakes. They’re a >bit< busy for me, but I can’t see them from the fun seat. Of course they’re more expensive, but I don’t mine paying a bit to have that extra sidewall with stock circumference.

    Function over form all day e’ry day!

    1. I actually put the 17×7.5 Sparco Terras on my Volvo to replace the factory 18s, which were good looking wheels, but not well suited for Oklahoma’s crap infrastructure. I definitely lost a few lbs per corner, and I have a better variety of tires to choose from. The grey finish with blue lettering is a pretty good match for the Volvo battleship grey and blue Polestar logos.

  6. Regarding wheels…I’d really love a set of the Year One N90s for my ’81 Z28 (which has N90s), except for the fact they only make them in a 17×8. I’d really like something wider in the back (and possibly an 18″ wheel, simply due to tire choices in the sizes I require – and that much less sidewall to make use of all my suspension goodies). It’s only a 305, but even then, a 245 (which is about as wide as I’d like to run on something with lower profile sidewalls) is nowhere near what I’d like, visually.

    Ultimately, I would really like a set of gunmetal C7 Z06 wheels, but the offset on those is significantly different and requires stupidly large spacers – so I’ll need to figure out a better way to push the actual hub surface of the wheels out that far instead.

  7. I’m really jonesing for some ROUND wheels for my car. Maybe even with tires on them…. Actually, its stock steelies seem round enough, so I’ll defer new wheels ’til I buy a new car.

    Criminal penalties for the manufacturers who allegedly cheated on diesel emissions strike me as just being a quicker and easier way to tax the companies, while at the same time putting them in a bad light. It’s our version of “mordida,” and doesn’t do the average citizen any good, at least in my view.

    As for GM wanting to put the squeeze in “flippers:” I’m all for it. However: to be really fair, they’d have to lay in some fine print on this policy exempting the buyers who got charged those “demand pricing” markups by greedhead dealers. It’ll hurt BaT, though…..

  8. This FCA/Stellantis emissions issue is a bit odd – I do not remember it being anywhere near as malicious as Dieselgate. From what I recall, the software itself was update – specifically the portion that involved the behavior of regens and what not. The updates made were well within EPA regulations to do, however they were not *communicated* to the EPA – for whatever reason. By doing this, they were no longer compliant, but had they followed standard protocol, they would have been.

    Knowing that – they did not really pollute any more than they would have if they did it “the right way”. In an effort to speed things up, in all likelihood, it made it illegal, though nothing is different in how the vehicle operates.

  9. “Speaking of rolling, I have a question for you: what’s a set of wheels you’ve been lusting after lately?”

    I’m trying to get better about noticing wheels. They’re always the last part of a car that I pay attention to. Whenever I check out the comments of a car blog that say “Ew, I love everything but those garish wheels!” or “I love the rims on that one!” I always have to scroll back up to take a second look at the pictures to see what all the fuss is about. I pay attention to swoopy bodywork, headlights, taillights, fenders, spoilers, even side mirrors and door handles; I just don’t notice the wheels for whatever reason. On the one hand, it’s one less thing for me to be tempted by when I’m buying a new car; on the other hand, I’d like to be part of the conversation.

  10. Wheels I’m lusting after:

    93-95 Ranger Doe Track wheels:
    https://www.wheelcollision.com/store/H3074-03074AXXX-RANGER.htm

    I’d love that style of wheel in larger sizes and different finishes for anything truck-ish. When I had a Bronco on order, I was looking at a way to get them in a compatible size. Similar aesthetic to slotted wheels, but just a little different. I don’t really have a target vehicle to put them on anymore, but I’ve always liked how they look. I’m probably the only one though.

  11. Texas should suspend commercial vehicle weight limits permanently. They are unfair to Texas truckers because, well.. everything is bigger in Texas.

    Wheels, it kind of bothers me that my black steelies don’t always match, but not enough to spend money on fixing. It’s more important to me that I have a full size spare and five matching tires to rotate properly.

  12. I’m constantly looking for good deals on vintage turbine wheels, of course, as with anything cool, they’re hard to find, and with anything hard to find they’re usually expensive. I passed on a set a while ago because I didn’t want to spend the couple hundred bucks and I regret it. I’d love to find some in modern sizes but the only thing available is from Halibrand at 20″ (would prefer 18″), and Chevy 6 lug pattern, which would require adaptors for my F-150. They’re also really expensive.

  13. ”You will be ineligible to place vehicle reservations or place a sold order with a dealer for certain high demand models (as identified by GM) including but not limited to future Corvette Z06.”

    Worse than the warranty thing (which doesn’t affect the flipper once the car is sold), getting blacklisted is probably more detrimental.

    1. Don’t think that not having to buy a GM product is the punishment you think it is.

      I (and a lot of people I know) have been doing it my whole life, and every time I get into a GM rental I’m reminded how lucky I am.

      You can’t threaten me with a good time 🙂

  14. I don’t understand how a manufacturer thinks they have the right to dictate how I dispose of my property? Yeah, flippers are a problem in a lot of industries – house rehab, ticket scalpers, etc. – but if I own it it’s mine to do with as I please and if the market says I can take a $10k profit on something I own then whoever built it has no right to limit me.

    1. Except that’s not how basically anything in the modern world actually works. They’re selling you something that comes with reams of legal agreements that you’re opting into and an expectation of continued support. I’m not necessarily saying it’s right, but this seems less problematic to me than some arbitrary IP restrictions in the market. You’re free to flip the car and then provide your own warranty support, after all.

      1. To me this is just like Apple in the early days of the iPhone. They played fast and loose with people’s phones after they were purchased, removing apps that Apple deemed unsafe, taking steps to prevent owners from opening the phone and replacing batteries, bricking anything that was jailbroken. Once I own an item it’s my choice what I do with it. It is perfectly legit to say that certain actions void warranties – it’s not fair to hold the manufacturer responsible if I put a new battery in backwards and fry the phone – but the choice to void a warranty is entirely mine. Simply reselling an object should not be any of the manufacturer’s concern. Either they stand behind their product or they don’t, ownership be damned.

  15. I’m actually trying to decide what to do about the wheels on the MG. The tires will be aging out in the next year or two, and I’m trying to decide if that’s a good enough excuse to swap the rusty Rostyles for something a little different. Maybe the knockoff Panasports that Moss sells, but everybody does those. It’s a hard car to fit wheels to, though, with a 4×4-1/2″ bolt pattern and weird offset. Early Datsun/Nissan 14″ alloys fit, but I’ve already had too many people mistake it for a Datsun.

  16. The two vehicles in my profile are in need of better wheels.

    I want some Citroen BX alloy rims for the electric Triumph GT6. The ones with the smooth covers. Another possibility is some alloy rims from Jigsaw Racing *IF* I can find them, but I don’t think that company is around anymore. I’m going to go full-retard on the aero with this car with the goal of getting energy consumption down to around 120 Wh/mile at 70 mph.

    For the custom electric microcar/tricycle/velomobile thing, I’m in the process of building up some 16×1.4″ DOT spoked rims with 12ga spokes. The spokes are getting custom wheel-disc covers to reduce drag, and I’ve got some Mitas MC2 low rolling resistance tires to fit on them when I’m done assembling the wheels.

  17. I don’t want to see manufacturers punishing flippers.

    I want to see manufacturers adopt delivery date pricing. High MSRP early, perhaps even extremely high, then falling over time.

    Or early production auctions, auctioning them to dealers, with the dealers often acting as commissioned agents for early buyers.

    Those who make the cars should be able to claim additional profits when they do especially good work.

    Voiding warranties is not a good way to address this. It interferes with the free market, and doesn’t reward the automaker for building something especially desirable.

    Flippers are taking a calculated risk in a free market, and should still get some reward when it goes well.

    1. Thank you,this is what ive been saying for years! Auction the cars until demand settles down.

      How is it that such big businesses in the most capitalist of countries are leaving money on the table??

  18. Everything about this Z06 situation sucks. People who didn’t get on lists 3 years ago or who aren’t friends with dealer principals now have no way to get a car at all. The flippers are distasteful, but they are providing a service.

    The whole way this has been handled has just left a bad taste in my mouth. A dealer near me will order me a CT5 Blackwing at sticker with no waiting list and I think I’m going to go that direction instead.

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