Volkswagen’s Dieselgate Settlement Will Cost A Whopping $15 Billion: Report

Volkswagen’s Dieselgate settlement with American owners of its cheaty diesel cars will cost the company more than $15 billion, or five billion dollars more than was originally reported, according to Bloomberg. More than $10 billion of that is slated just to go to Volkswagen owners.

The reported settlement also leaves less than $3 billion left over in Volkswagen’s initial Dieselgate fund for pending legal actions and investigations in the rest of the entire world.

Here are the financial details of how it will work:

Car owners will get a total of $10.03 billion, which covers both the value of their vehicles before the scandal became public last September and compensation payments of as much as $10,000 apiece, two people familiar with the negotiations said. Those figures could rise if VW misses certain repair deadlines.

The compensation figure jumped over the past few days, these people said, as the parties changed their estimates on what it would take to get some 85 percent of owners to trade in their vehicles under the settlement.

The rest of the settlement includes $2.7 billion for the Environmental Protection Agency and the California Air Resources Board, and an additional $2 billion for research into clean-emissions technology, Bloomberg reported.

There’s a further settlement with individual states as well, possibly to the tune of another $400 million. There’s also no exact timetable yet for when any of this will come to fruition, or how VW owners will be able to make a claim for their cars.

But as we said earlier today, this is definitely not the end. There are still multiple lawsuits pending in many different countries, along with pissed off shareholders and regulators. Not to mention any lingering depression in sales that can be attributed to the scandal.

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In an attempt to assist drivers in ignoring their phone while driving, Irish student Andrew Irwin has designed an app which can mute your mobile and auto-reply to texts on your behalf.

Drive Safe is a free app currently available to download from the Google Play store which uses your phone’s accelerometer to detect when you’re driving and automatically put your phone on silent. By doing this the app helps reduce the temptation to check a text you receive while driving, while also allowing drivers to enable an auto-reply feature which alerts anyone who tries to ring or text you while you’re driving that you are unavailable.

By using the phone’s accelerometer instead of GPS tracking battery and data usage is minimised while the app is active, with the app also offering a built-in emergency feature ensuring that you won’t miss urgent matters. After a third consecutive call from the same person the app is de-activated, allowing the phone to ring at normal volume and alert the driver to the importance of the call.

Drive Safe creator Andrew Irwin, a 23-year-old student of Computing in Software Development in Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology, believes the app could make an immediate difference in changing driver behaviour. “Simply the goal is to save lives. With one tap Drive Safe could help prevent fatalities and serious car accidents attributed to mobile phone usage while driving,” he said.

“I’ve always strived to keep the app as simple as possible, so that anyone of any technical ability or age can use the app first time, with ease. I have also tried to keep as much language out of the app as possible, as Drive Safe is a global app, used all around the world.”

Since its launch the App has been a global success, having been downloaded over 30’000 times in 116 countries and boasts users from Barbados to Letterkenny. In the last 30 days alone drivers in 71 different countries have used the app to encourage safer driving habits.

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Second in National Tow Truck Photo Contest

Michael's Towing 2015 Ford F450

Michael’s Towing 2015 Ford F450

By Susan Larson. Photo provided by Michael’s Towing & Recovery

Fredericksburg, Virginia — Michael’s Towing & Recovery won second place for Light-Duty Tow Truck in the national Shine ‘n Star Tow Truck Photo Beauty Contest, hosted by Tow Times magazine and Ford Trucks.

The winning photo features a 2015 Ford F450 with Jerr-Dan MPL 40 eight-ton recovery boom towing equipment. It sports a custom green and white vinyl wrap, with hand-applied door jam striping. The Ford F450 winning tow truck also boasts a bumper extension for a Warn 12,000-lb. winch, aluminum wheels, visor, and stainless steel on the rear deck.

The photo was chosen from 550 entries submitted in five categories.

“The annual Shine ‘n Star Tow Truck Photo Beauty Contest taps into towing operators’ pride in their fleet, providing an opportunity to show off the beauty and brawn of their equipment,” said Tow Times’ Publisher Clarissa Powell.

Michael’s Towing was the Grand Prize winner in the 2014 Shine ‘n Star Tow Truck Photo Beauty Contest for a Kenworth T800 twin steer with a Century 1140 rotator.

Michael Powell is owner of Michael’s Towing & Recovery, which is located at 10934 Houser Dr. in Fredericksburg.

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Snow emergency prompts massive towing

City plowing

A big citywide tow is typically 100 to 150 vehicles. The first snow emergency of the 2016-17 winter sent a whole lot more to the impound lots.

“We issued 335 snow violations and actually towed 332,” City Manager Pat Hentges told the City Council on Monday.

And that was before the special downtown snow emergency occurred late Monday night and early Tuesday morning. The downtown snow emergency that ended at 6 a.m. Tuesday added another 24 cars to the impound lots.

Along with a $25 parking citation, violators were facing a nearly 50 percent increase in impound fees from two years ago — to $107.88.

Combined, that means Mankato wallets will be $47,305 lighter after the last citation is paid and the last vehicle is collected from impound lots operated by Affordable Towing and All American Towing.

“We certainly don’t want to see the towing of that many cars,” Hentges said. “But it essentially allows us to get these streets plowed in a safe and effective manner.”

Kent Reeves, owner of All American Towing which handles city towing south of Main Street, said he wasn’t sure why so many more were towed following the weekend snowfall, which totaled about 6 inches.

“That’s a good question,” Reeves said. “I did talk to a number of the people who were towed. A lot of them, this was their first snow emergency.”

That lack of familiarity with the rules, particularly in a college town that attracts thousands of newcomers each fall, is the reason the first snow emergency of the season results in more towing. After paying $132.88, most people learn their lesson and pay close attention to subsequent snow emergency announcements.

Another explanation is that Mankato became a lot more efficient at towing starting a year ago when it split the city between the two towing companies. In the past, one company was granted the city contract and had to cover the entire city.

And Council member Jason Mattick wondered if the day of the week was the problem. The snow emergency was announced early Sunday morning, warning people that ticketing and towing would begin at 10 p.m.

“Not that it’s your fault, but I think a lot of people were just in a Sunday lull — Vikings or whatever,” Mattick said. “So it caught a lot of people off-guard. It’s unfortunate.”

Finally, Reeves said he noticed towing of some vehicles that city streets department officials might have let slide in previous years. The vehicles were those that had been parked on streets where plows had already made a pass or two. In the past, those cases might have been forgiven with towing focused on cars that had been parked throughout the snowstorm and were surrounded by unplowed snow.

Hentges agreed that some people mistakenly believe they can resume parking on a street once they deem it’s been plowed “curb to curb.” That’s the rule in some cities and was once the rule in Mankato, but the restrictions were simplified to prohibit parking until the snow emergency ends.

“We did have a few people confused on that,” he said. “But that’s been the case the last three years.”

Along with the current practice of notifying the media of snow emergencies, posting the information on the city’s website and using social media, Hentges said the city has persuaded Minnesota State University to forward the notifications to students. And, starting next year, snow emergency information will be given to landlords to pass on to renters.

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Welcome to Australia! Foolish backpackers get their soft roader stuck trying to drive on a beach then SMASH into 4×4 trying to rescue them


  • Tourists got their car stuck on the beach after driving a Subaru onto the sand 
  • The driver then reversed into a four-wheel drive that was towing them out 
  • Car was badly damaged and most of the rear of the vehicle had caved in 

A group of backpackers who got their car stuck on a beach thought they were in luck when a 4×4 owner offered to tow them out of the sand.

But the travellers were left with an even bigger headache after they failed to apply the brakes – and ended up smashing into the back of the Land Rover.

A series of hilarious videos show the Good Samaritans slowly dragging the Subaru out of the sand after it got bogged down at Inskip Point on Rainbow Beach in south east Queensland.

Tourist smashes into 4WD that was towing him out of sand
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A group of backpackers who got their car stuck on a beach thought they were in luck when a 4x4 owner offered to tow them out of the sand

A group of backpackers who got their car stuck on a beach thought they were in luck when a 4×4 owner offered to tow them out of the sand

But the travellers were left with an even bigger headache after they failed to apply the brakes - and ended up smashing into the back of the Land Rover

But the travellers were left with an even bigger headache after they failed to apply the brakes – and ended up smashing into the back of the Land Rover

But as the Land Rover comes to a gentle stop after pulling the Subaru for a few metres, the car driver fails to notice and continues to reverse.

‘Brake, brake’, a woman shouts as the car plows into the back of the four-wheel drive with an almighty crunch.

Two people in the rear of the shot can be seen with their heads in their hands, but others seem to see the funny side.

‘No one’s hurt guys, it happens,’ one man is heard saying.

No serious damage appears to have been done to the 4X4, but the same cannot be said for the car.

The rear of the Subaru has caved in, while the bumper and rear window look damaged.

As the Land Rover comes to a gentle stop after pulling the Subaru for a few metres, the car driver fails to notice and continues to reverse into it

As the Land Rover comes to a gentle stop after pulling the Subaru for a few metres, the car driver fails to notice and continues to reverse into it

The driver of the car (right) looks distinctly glum as he clambers out of the wrecked car

The driver of the car (right) looks distinctly glum as he clambers out of the wrecked car

‘Landy hasn’t got a mark on her,’ one man remarks.

‘Landy’s good to go,’ another replies.

While they seem in high spirits, the driver of the car looks distinctly glum as he clambers out of the wrecked car.

The man, who says he does not have an Australian driving license, appears to be a tourist and was travelling with surfboards on the top of his car.

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2017 Honda Ridgeline Towing Review

Towing 5,000 pounds isn’t what it used to be. The weight of steel and wood hasn’t changed but the towing capabilities and capacities of the vehicles responsible for moving them sure have.


Towing and Hauling

Providing motivation for the Ridgeline is a transversely-mounted 3.5-liter V6 that makes 280 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque. Power is sent to the front wheels as standard, while all-wheel drive can be had for $1,800 (Canadian Ridgelines get all-wheel drive as standard equipment). GM manages to squeeze 305 hp and 269 lb-ft from its 3.6-liter V6, while Toyota gets slightly less hp and a little more torque from its 3.5-liter.

Spec for spec, Honda’s small pickup is about on par with the competition on most fronts, though it is the tow rating that falls short. Even if you’re not pulling the limit every time you tow, having that extra capacity means that you’re not stressing your truck as much when you pull.

So can the Ridgeline actually pull at its 5,000-pound limit with confidence? Seeing as towing confidence is never really a yes or no answer, let’s explore. We hitched up a large four-place snowmobile trailer that weighs in just shy of 5,000 pounds to dig deep into the truck’s capability and see how the little Honda handled being truly stressed.

Easily the best part of the towing experience with the Ridgeline is the way the suspension soaks up all the weight with little issue. Despite the rear end squatting, the front wheels didn’t feel light and the nose wasn’t pointing straight up into the air. Side-to-side movement felt controlled, and the even the trailer’s weight couldn’t push the truck around.


This translates into the cabin with nice, planted steering feel and little to no torque steer thanks in part to the all-wheel drive.

If the towing experience ended there, the Ridgeline would leave with a stellar report card. Unfortunately there are other parts of the package that are important as well, namely the brakes and the engine.

Not Quite Enough Engine

The V6 needs to be constantly revved to keep it in the power band, and even at full tilt, it felt small with the big trailer behind it. Part of the problem is the lack of a proper tow/haul mode. Honda offers a ‘D4’ button on the gear shift, which will lock out the top gear and also slightly adjust the shift points, but you cannot manually choose which gear you’d like your truck to be in. For engine braking there is also an ‘L’ (low) gear which keep the truck first through third only and tries to stay in the lowest gear possible. This setting does help when descending, but it cannot replace the ability to shift your own gears, an especially important feature when towing.

However, the biggest weak point in our test was the brakes, but there is a caveat here. Our trailer was equipped with trailer brakes, but the Ridgeline does not include an integrated brake controller.

An aftermarket brake controller would be the answer for anyone towing big weight with the truck and would go a long way to making towing safer. Because without trailer brakes, which is how we tested it, this rig takes some serious time to stop.


If you’re towing this kind of weight, a trailer brake controller is absolutely essential, and it’s actually the law in many states and Canadian provinces.

So what’s the takeaway from all of that? If you plan to tow 5,000 pounds every day the Ridgeline will do it, but you’re better off getting a half-ton or a more capable midsize pickup to keep things comfortable. I would say the comfortable max limit for the Ridgeline is around 3,500 pounds. Any more, and this little Honda starts to feel undersized.

So it may not be the heavy lifter among its peers, but there is one aspect of the Ridgeline that is second to none: unladen driving dynamics. Thanks to a combination of factors including its unibody construction and independent suspension, the Ridgeline drives like a big Honda Accord on the road, offering absolutely none of the stiff, choppy ride most body-on-frame trucks have.



Those shopping for a Ridgeline will have to spend at least $30,375 for a basic front-wheel drive Ridgeline, while the top-trim all-wheel drive Black Edition tops out at $43,770. The Ridgeline is only offered as a crew cab with a single bed length, but even when you look at comparable trucks from Toyota and Chevy, the Honda is at least a few thousand dollars more expensive.

In Canada, the Ridgeline starts at $36,590, which includes all-wheel drive as standard. At the top end, customers will spend $48,590 for the Black Edition, once again starting at more than the competition and ending with a higher price tag, too.

The Verdict: 2017 Honda Ridgeline Towing Review

The Honda Ridgeline is a quandary to truck buyers because it offers the ride and handling of a car, with some pickup truck capability. If you’re willing to live in the middle between those things, where the Ridgeline spends most of its time as a car and is occasionally needed to move a very heavy load, the truck will work wonders. But buying the Ridgeline in anticipation of a life filled with big trailers and heavy loads, you’ll wish you bought a bigger truck.

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