The Cult of Cars, Racing and Everything That Moves You.
We may earn a commission from links on this page

Fraud Trial of Nikola Founder to Begin in New York

Nikola founder Trevor Milton has pleaded not guilty to counts of securities fraud and of wire fraud.

We may earn a commission from links on this page.
A photo of a Nikola founder Trevor Milton with a black face mask on.

The fraud trial of Trevor Milton, the founder of EV startup Nikola, begins today, striking Stellantis workers have “tentatively” agreed a new deal and Nissan extends the closure of its factory in Russia. All this and more in The Morning Shift for September 12 2022.

1st Gear: Fraud Trial of Trevor Milton Begins

Troubled EV startup Nikola is back in the news this week. Not because it has finally begun shipping electric trucks in meaningful quantities, oh no. Instead, it’s because the fraud trial of its founder, Trevor Milton, is about to begin.


Milton founded Nikola back in 2015 and went on to present several EV concepts for the startup. But, an investigation in 2019 claims that he tried to defraud investors and lied about the company’s progress. Reuters reports:

Milton, 40, has pleaded not guilty to two counts of securities fraud and two counts of wire fraud. His lawyers have indicated they will argue that Milton had no intent to defraud investors and that other top executives at Nikola, including its general counsel, approved of Milton’s statements.

Milton was indicted last year. Prosecutors said he made false statements about Nikola’s progress on developing its technology as the company joined the mounting number of tech and electric vehicle companies going public through special purpose acquisition vehicles, or SPACs.


The trial of Milton comes after Nikola agreed a settlement deal with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Last December, it was accused of defrauding investors and agreed to pay $125 million to settle the case.

Milton’s fraud trial begins today with jury selection in Manhattan federal court.

2nd Gear: Striking Stellantis Workers Agree Deal

Everyone’s on strike at the minute, it seems. VW workers in Mexico are threatening industrial action, Lufthansa employees in Germany could walk and U.S. railroad workers are also considering a work stoppage.


But, after walking off the job this weekend, Stellantis workers in Indiana have agreed a new deal with the car maker. The Associated Press reports that a “tentative agreement” has been reached by United Auto Workers union members and the Dodge owner. According to The AP:

United Auto Workers union members who went on strike Saturday at the Stellantis casting plant in Indiana have reached a tentative deal with the company.

The UAW Local 1166 bargaining committee announced a tentative agreement in a blog post, saying that a ratification vote would be held Monday.

Stellantis confirmed the tentative deal Monday.

Auto workers said the strike related to fears around health and safety at the site, which Stellantis claims is the “world’s largest die-cast facility.” The UAW said that the new agreement “addresses the issues that are most important.”


Members will vote to ratify the new deal later today.

3rd Gear: Nissan Extends Russian Factory Suspension

While Stellantis prepares to reopen its plant, Japanese automaker Nissan has extended the closure of one of its sites. The company shuttered its assembly line in Russia in March and will now extend the closure for a further three months.


Reuters reports that Nissan closed its St. Petersburg plant following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine back in March. Now, the company says it will extend the closure until late December 2022. Production had originally been slated to resume in September. According to Reuters:

Production is suspended at St Petersburg until the end of December and employees have been informed. We continue to monitor the situation closely and will take actions as needed,” a Nissan spokesperson said.

The Nissan plant suspension was extended because of continuing difficulties obtaining parts from Europe and Japan, the Nikkei daily paper reported.


As well as shuttering its operations in Russia, Nissan also offered humanitarian aid to Ukraine following the Russian invasion. In March, the company created a €2.5 million fund to support the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine.

4th Gear: Do Android Tractors Dream of Electric Sheep?

The seemingly never-ending quest to perfect the autonomous vehicle is also ongoing in the tractor world, as American company Deere has pledged a multi-billion dollar investment in self-driving tractors.


The investment is all part of the American tractor maker aims to make agricultural machinery more efficient, reports The Wall Street Journal. As such, Deere will soon begin rolling out self-driving tractors that can autonomously plow fields, as well as other “smart” machines such as crop sprayers. The WSJ reports:

Deere, which helped make satellite-guided tractors ubiquitous in the U.S. Farm Belt over the past 20 years, is investing billions of dollars to develop smarter machines that the company said will make farming faster and more efficient than it ever could be with just farmers behind the wheel.


The investment covers the creation of new farming hardware that is equipped with sensors, scanners, and other means of self-driving. Deere will also develop the software required to autonomously operate such machinery.

It has high hopes for the rollout of such tech, with John May, Deere’s chief executive, claiming that by 2026 it could have 1.5 million machines in service that rely on its software. It’s that software that could also make up 10 percent of the company’s revenue by the end of the decade.


5th Gear: Dodge Dealer Fined for Discrimination

A dodge dealership in Colorado has been fined more than $900,000 following an investigation by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Christopher’s Dodge Ram in the U.S. state has been ordered to pay $935,000 after the EEOC claimed the business “discriminated against female applicants for sales positions.”


Automotive News reports that the fine relates to one of two investigations into discrimination by the EEOC. According to the site:

The recent $935,000 agreement is the result of a process EEOC calls conciliation, which is an informal option the federal agency offers before legal action, according to its website. Another probe led to a lawsuit filed in late 2021, which is still pending in U.S. District Court in Colorado.

The EEOC said Christopher’s Dodge Ram did not hire female employees for sales positions and did not keep records at its Golden, Colo., dealership. Dealership leaders deny the allegations, said Courtney Kramer, the attorney representing the dealership in the agreement.


While the dealership’s attorney claims that the “conciliation agreement doesn’t prove wrongdoing,” the company has pledged to make changes following the fine.

The Colorado dealer has agreed to increase female representation, change its hiring records-keeping and provide equal opportunity training to all employees.


Reverse: Boat or Bridge? You Decide


Neutral: No More Takes

Like the rest of the UK, I am now in a state of national mourning. There will be no hot takes served at Jalopnik until September 21st.