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Penalties for Bad Behavior

This week Road Rules is following up on recent developments in a couple of important stories addressed in previous articles.

In July 2017, in “Crazy Speeding,” Road Rules reported the apprehension by the West Vancouver police of a West Vancouver resident, age 22, for excessive speeding when in the early hours of July 4th at the north end of the Lions Gate Bridge— a 60 kmh zone, he was clocked in his white Ferrari at 210 kmh.  On April 24th, 2018 “Y W”, now 23, pleaded guilty in North Vancouver provincial court to the charge.  The sentencing was briefly adjourned.

Following the incident, the BC Superintendent of Motor Vehicles banned the motorist from driving for 16 months—lasting now until November 2018.  The Motorist’s lawyer was quoted saying a driving ban before a finding of guilt was an unusual step, and that he didn’t know why his client was speeding at the time nor why he had previous similar charges.  “He, like many other young people, gets speeding tickets and they continue to speed. I expect now he’s been sanctioned in this way he’ll slow down significantly.”

Since October 2015, when Road Rules in “Rough Ride for Volkswagen” first reported the discovery of a ‘defeat device’ in Volkswagen’s [VW’s] diesel cars by a US non-profit, The International Council on Clean Transportation, we have followed the developments.  One of the first was the almost immediate resignation of [then] CEO Martin Winterkorn.  On May 3rd, 2018, Winterkorn, 70, was back in the news when US prosecutors unsealed a four-count indictment charging him with “three counts of wire fraud and one of conspiring with other senior VW executives and employees to violate the [US] Clean Air Act.”

If found guilty,  Mr. Winterkorn faces a five year US prison term and a US$250,000 fine on the conspiracy charge, and up to 20 years imprisonment and a US$25,000 fine on the wire fraud charges.  Media reports note that Mr. Winterkorn is the ninth person charged by US authorities in relation to the deception, two now serving jail time in the US, the other six remaining in Germany.  Mr. Winterkorn is likely to remain there too since Germany’s constitution forbids extradition of its citizens other than to another European Union state or an international court.

But Mr. Winterkorn is also under investigation in Germany on suspicion of fraud and false advertising, to which he has long protested that he didn’t learn of the problem until shortly before it was first announced in the US in September 2015.  Prosecutors are reportedly refuting this with documentary evidence of a memo addressed to him in 2014 describing the damning test results and warning that VW could not explain the increased pollution.

In noting this latest development Road Rules was reminded of Bob Lutz’s perspective, (former senior executive with Chrysler, Ford, and GM, now a consultant) offered in Road and Track magazine: “Such things come down to one powerful person saying: “You will sell diesels in the US, and you will not fail.  Do it, or I’ll find somebody who will.”

Road Rules will continue to follow these stories.

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