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Ford starts probe of mileage, emissions

Ford Motor Co. has launched an investigation into whether it overstated gas mileage and understated emissions from a wide range of vehicles.

The company said Thursday that in September, a group of employees reported possible problems with a mathematical model used to calculate pollution and mileage, prompting the company to hire an outside firm to run tests. Testing will start with the 2019 Ford Ranger small pickup truck, and if problems are found, the company will start looking at models dating to 2017.

Ford said it has no evidence yet that mileage or pollution numbers are wrong, but the investigation has just started. The company says it's too early to tell how many and which models might be involved.

Depending on what is found, Ford could be required to restate the mileage on EPA-approved window stickers as well as reimburse owners for the mileage difference. The company could also face penalties from the government agencies.

"At Ford, we believe that trust in our brand is earned by acting with integrity and transparency," Kim Pittel, the company's vice president for environment and safety engineering, said Thursday.

 

Google to end forced arbitration

Google said Thursday it will no longer require that its workers settle disputes with the company through arbitration, responding to months of pressure from employees.

The change will take effect March 21 and will apply to current and future employees. Employees that have settled past disputes won't be able to re-open their cases.

Google said last year it would end forced arbitration for sexual harassment and assault cases, and Thursday expanded that practice to all worker disputes. Google's parent company, Mountain View, California-based Alphabet Inc., has its nearly 100,000 employees.

Mandatory arbitration requires employees to settle their disputes with the company privately and outside of court. The practice, widespread in U.S. employment contracts, can lend itself to secrecy and has faced criticism recently.

 

Zion's injury hits Nike stock

Soon after Zion Williamson's shoe ripped apart, Nike's stock price took a hit.

The freak injury during one of the college basketball season's marquee games immediately sparked debates about everything from the shoe manufacturer to insurance issues and whether the likely NBA lottery pick should risk his professional future by continuing to play for the top-ranked-for-now Blue Devils.

Williamson is day to day with a mild right knee sprain and is progressing as expected, team spokesman Mike DeGeorge said Thursday night.

By Thursday morning, Nike, which manufactured the shoes Williamson was wearing, also was feeling the impact of the injury. The company's stock price was down about 1 percent, or 89 cents, to $83.95 in trading Thursday as the sportswear manufacturer became the target of ridicule on social media. A spokesman said Nike has begun an investigation into what it called an "isolated" event.

"Shoes have failed before, but not as visibly," said Matt Powell, a senior industry adviser for sports for the NPD Group, a market research firm.

 

Mortgage rates dip to 12-month low

U.S. long-term mortgage rates dipped this week to the lowest average in more than a year, providing a possible boost to the start of the Spring homebuying season in March.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac says the average rate on the benchmark 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage declined to 4.35 percent from 4.37 percent last week. The key 30-year home borrowing rate averaged 4.40 percent a year ago. This week was the lowest average since the week of February 8, 2018.

The average rate this week for 15-year, fixed-rate loans declined to 3.78 percent from 3.81 percent.

 

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