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Engine Maker Cummins To Repair, Replace 600,000 Ram Trucks In $2 Billion Emissions Cheating Scandal

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The Department of Justice has ordered the recall of 600,000 Ram trucks as part of a settlement requiring engine manufacturer Cummins Inc. to repair environmental harm caused by unlawfully installing emissions control software in several hundred thousand vehicles, avoiding emissions testing.

It revealed new facts about the December settlement on Wednesday.

Cummins is accused of avoiding emissions testing by employing equipment to bypass or defeat pollution controls. The engine manufacturer will pay a previously announced civil penalty of $1.675 billion to settle claims, the largest ever secured under the Clean Air Act, plus $325 million in remedies.

Cummins’ total penalty now exceeds $2 billion, which authorities from the US Justice Department, Environmental Protection Agency, California Air Resources Board, and California Attorney General described as a “landmark” in a conference call with reporters Wednesday.

“Let this settlement be a lesson: We won’t let greedy corporations cheat their way to success and run over the health and wellbeing of consumers and our environment along the way,” Robert Bonta, the attorney general of California, said.

Over a decade, hundreds of thousands of Ram 2500 and 3500 pickup trucks built by Stellantis were outfitted with Cummins diesel engines, including bypass engine control software. This includes 630,000 vehicles with unlawful defeat devices and 330,000 with unreported auxiliary emissions control equipment.

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Engine Maker Cummins To Repair, Replace 600,000 Ram Trucks In $2 Billion Emissions Cheating Scandal

Officials could not say how many of those vehicles are still on the road, but Cummins, which has stated that it has done nothing illegal, must conduct a nationwide recall of more than 600,000 noncompliant Ram trucks.

Stellantis commented on the case to engine manufacturer Cummins, which said that Wednesday’s proceedings do not involve any more financial commitments beyond those revealed in December. “We are looking forward to obtaining certainty as we conclude this lengthy matter and continue to deliver on our mission of powering a more prosperous world,” the company said.

Cummins also stated that the engines not being recalled were within emissions standards.

Cummins will compensate for any smog-forming emissions caused by its activities as part of the settlement.

Preliminary assessments suggested that the emissions bypass resulted in “thousands of tons of excess nitrogen oxide emissions,” according to US Attorney General Merrick B. Garland’s prepared statement.

The Clean Air Act, a federal law implemented in 1963 to minimize and manage national air pollution, compels car and engine manufacturers to follow emission restrictions to safeguard the environment and human health.

The transportation industry accounts for roughly one-third of total US greenhouse gas emissions, with light-duty cars accounting for most of that. Limits strive to reduce emissions, particularly from gasoline and diesel fuel combustion, which include carbon dioxide and other harmful pollutants.

Engine Maker Cummins To Repair, Replace 600,000 Ram Trucks In $2 Billion Emissions Cheating Scandal

“We are increasingly discovering that the public health effects of car emissions are truly devastating, and they are also one of our largest sources of emissions contributing to climate change,” said Jacqueline Klopp, director of the Columbia Climate School’s Center for Sustainable Urban Development.

“To the extent that vehicle manufacturers are trying to evade our emission standards that are our biggest tool for protecting us from these public health impacts and climate change, these kinds of fines for evasion are hopefully a very important deterrent,” she said. “There are profound justice and equity issues around air pollution produced by transport emissions.”

Diesel exhaust is extremely toxic to human health and a strong carcinogen. Long-term exposure to ozone-producing nitrogen oxides can result in respiratory infections, lung illness, and asthma.

Officials acknowledged Wednesday that the Cummins settlement followed many other prominent emissions cheating instances involving the car sector in recent years.

Wednesday’s announcement comes seven years after German automaker Volkswagen agreed to plead guilty to five felony counts following investigations into its use of identical defeat devices, resulting in the major emissions scandal known as Dieselgate.

Engine Maker Cummins To Repair, Replace 600,000 Ram Trucks In $2 Billion Emissions Cheating Scandal

The business inserted software in some model year 2009-2015 diesel vehicles across its brands, bypassing emissions limits and spewing up to 40 times more pollutants than those standards permit. Volkswagen says 11 million vehicles worldwide were equipped with emission controls.

In 2017, the manufacturer agreed to pay a $2.8 billion criminal penalty and $1.5 billion in separate civil settlements.

Fiat Chrysler faced similar sanctions in 2019 for failing to disclose defeat devices used to cause vehicle pollution control systems to perform incorrectly during emission tests. Over 100,000 EcoDiesel Ram 1500 and Jeep Grand Cherokee models were sold in the United States with unapproved software.

To settle charges of cheating on emission tests in 2019, the manufacturer agreed to pay a $305 million civil penalty.

Daimler, Mercedes-Benz’s parent company, consented to a civil penalty of $857 million in 2020 due to disclosure errors and Clean Air Act violations.

“There’s a lot of sunk money into diesel engines and people making profits off of diesel engines,” Klopp, who hails from Columbia, added. “Unless you give them a really high fine and a really big deterrence, they’ll pay the fines to keep the profits. That is incredibly terrible because it prioritizes profits over the health of our communities.”

SOURCE – (AP)

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Walmart To Acquire Smart TV Maker Vizio For $2.3 Billion In Bid To Boost Its Advertising Business

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Walmart is paying $2.3 billion for smart TV maker Vizio to boost its quickly growing advertising business and compete with Amazon.

If the purchase is completed, Walmart will gain access to Vizio’s SmartCast operating system, allowing the retail juggernaut to offer its suppliers the opportunity to display adverts on streaming devices.

Walmart Connect, which provides marketers with access to Walmart’s large consumer base, has helped the company grow its media and advertising business. Walmart reported on Tuesday that its global advertising business increased by nearly 28% to $3.4 billion last year.

The developments follow Amazon’s announcement last month that it will begin charging Prime members $2.99 per month to keep their films and TV series ad-free, in addition to the $14.99 per month or $139 per year Prime price.

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What does Walmart stand to gain from a television manufacturer?

Vizio’s SmartCast technology has 18 million active accounts and has increased 400% since 2018. The firms claim that Vizio’s platform has over 500 direct advertisers and that ads now account for most of the company’s gross profit.

In recent years, makers of streaming gear, such as Roku and Vizio, have moved their focus to advertising revenue. Vizio established its Vizio Ads business unit in 2019, claiming to be “one of the few connected TV companies with the device penetration, consumer opt-in, and infrastructure to deliver meaningful scale.”

Walmart saw Vizio’s growing consumer base and grabbed the opportunity to develop its Walmart Connect business.

“We believe the combination of these two businesses would be impactful as we redefine the intersection of retail and entertainment,” said Seth Dallaire, executive vice president and chief revenue officer at Walmart U.S.

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Who else is ramping up screen advertising?

Other large streamers, such as Netflix and Disney, have embraced the dual model, allowing them to generate revenue from commercials while simultaneously allowing customers to opt-out for a higher charge.

However, in the ever-changing streaming industry, whether consumers are prepared to pay more to see fewer commercials when they already pay subscription fees, frequently for numerous providers, remains to be seen. Many consumers “cut the cord” and ditched cable TV because they were frustrated with their ever-increasing fees.

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How did the companies’ shares fare?

Vizio stock rose about 15% in the afternoon, reaching $10.96 per share.

Walmart’s stock jumped 3.1% to $175.66 per share after exceeding Wall Street’s expectations with its sales and profit on Tuesday.

Roku, one of Vizio’s primary competitors, saw its stock drop 6.4% by midday.

SOURCE – (AP)

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Sacked Twitter Staff In Ghana Finally Get Pay-Off

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X, then known as Twitter, has finally paid out the employees it fired from its African offices more than a year ago, according to the agency that represents them.

Most had just been with the social media network in Ghana’s capital, Accra, for a few months before they were let go in November 2022.

They had threatened to sue X for failing to pay the redundancy money they said they were promised.

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Sacked Twitter Staff In Ghana Finally Get Pay-Off

The corporation has yet to respond.

X previously stated that it had paid ex-employees in full.

Elon Musk, who took over the corporation in 2022, launched a large global workforce layoff, dismissing almost 6,000 individuals. He said he was losing more than $4 million (£3.5 million) daily.

The African contingent, which numbered fewer than 20, had only recently relocated to X’s new office in

Accra after eight months of working from home during the COVID-19 outbreak.

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Sacked Twitter Staff In Ghana Finally Get Pay-Off

Agency Seven, the organisation providing legal representation to the workforce, stated that it had successfully obtained a redundancy settlement and repatriation fees for foreign employees but did not indicate the payout size.

“They are very pleased to finally be able to get their due, put this behind them, and look forward to the future,” Agency Seven Seven spokesperson Carla Olympio told the BBC.

Last year, terminated employees told the BBC that their treatment at X had impacted their mental health and money.

“It’s difficult when it’s the world’s richest man owing you money and closure,” one of them stated.

They claimed they were initially assured that they would be paid to work for one more month while their contracts were being terminated. However, they were instantly shut out of their emails, and no more wage payments were issued.

Since then, the crew has reported a difficult battle for compensation.

Some had migrated from adjacent nations, such as Nigeria. Their contract was terminated, leaving them and their families stuck in Ghana.

In a rare interview with the BBC last April, Mr Musk revealed that the social media powerhouse had 1,500 staff, down from just under 8,000 when he bought the company.

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Sacked Twitter Staff In Ghana Finally Get Pay-Off

When the news of Mr Musk’s extreme workforce reduction broke, he tweeted that laid-off employees received three months’ severance compensation.

However, staff members in the Africa office claim they still need this.

According to Agency Seven Seven, X only started negotiating with the terminated African staff after the BBC publicised the news.

Last year, ex-employees filed a complaint in a California court accusing X of failing to pay at least $500 million in promised severance benefits.

SOURCE – (BBC)

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TikTok Faces European Union Scrutiny For Possible Breaches Of Strict New Digital Rulebook

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Why Buying TikTok Views is the Best Way to Maximize Followers

LONDON — The European Union announced Monday that it is investigating whether TikTok violated the bloc’s harsh new digital standards for cleaning up social media and keeping internet users secure.

The European Commission, the EU’s executive department, said it has “opened formal proceedings to assess” whether TikTok violated the Digital Services Act, which went into effect last year.

The DSA is a comprehensive collection of regulations to keep internet users safe online, including measures to make it easy to flag dangerous or unlawful content such as hate speech, provide users with alternatives to algorithmic suggestions, and prohibit adverts targeting children.

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TikTok Faces European Union Scrutiny For Possible Breaches Of Strict New Digital Rulebook

The commission is looking at whether TikTok is doing enough to address “systemic risks” posed by its design, such as “algorithmic systems” that may promote “behavioural addictions.” It added measures such as age verification software to prevent children from accessing “inappropriate content” may not be “reasonable, proportionate, and effective.”

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TikTok Faces European Union Scrutiny For Possible Breaches Of Strict New Digital Rulebook

“Minor protection is the DSA’s primary enforcement priority. TikTok, as a platform that reaches millions of children and teens, must completely comply with the DSA and plays an important role in the protection of minors online,” said Thierry Breton, the EU’s internal market commissioner, in a news statement. “We are launching this formal infringement proceeding today to ensure that proportionate action is taken to protect the physical and emotional well-being of young Europeans.”

TikTok has “pioneered features and settings to protect teens and keep under 13s off the platform, issues the whole industry is grappling with,” the business stated in a statement. “We’ll continue to work with experts and industry to keep young people on TikTok safe, and look forward to now having the opportunity to explain this work in detail to the Commission.”

The commission also looks into TikTok’s minor privacy policies, ad transparency, and whether researchers can access data.

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TikTok Faces European Union Scrutiny For Possible Breaches Of Strict New Digital Rulebook

The EU has designated nearly two dozen of the largest internet and social media companies, including TikTok, deserving the most intense scrutiny under the DSA and heavy fines if they fail to comply. The bloc is already probing Elon Musk’s X, formerly known as Twitter, for breaches such as failure to control the dissemination of illicit content.

SOURCE – (AP)

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