Trucking news and briefs for Monday, Oct. 4, 2021:
Shareholders okay spinoff of Daimler TrucksShareholders of Daimler AG, the parent-company of Daimler Trucks North America, Mercedes-Benz and others, approved by an overwhelming margin Friday realignment of the company, which will include spinning off the company's truck and bus business.
A vote in favor of the measure was 99.90%, clearing the way for Daimler Truck Holding AG to become an independent company on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange. Two current members of the Daimler Supervisory Board, Marie Wieck and Joe Kaeser, will step down from their positions and join the Supervisory Board of Daimler Truck Holding AG.
Shareholders approved, also with an overwhelming majority of 99.89% of the votes cast, renaming Daimler AG to Mercedes-Benz Group AG effective Feb. 1, 2022. The new name, the company said, emphasizes the future focus on cars and vans of the brands Mercedes-Benz, Mercedes-AMG, Mercedes-Maybach and Mercedes-EQ.
The two measures must now be entered in the Commercial Register.
Former fleet owner faces 100 years in prison
The owner of several Southern California-based trucking companies has pleaded guilty to five felony charges, admitting he engaged in an array of criminal conduct, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California.
Carl Bradley Johansson, 63, of Newport Beach, California, pleaded guilty Sept. 29 to two felony counts in relation to a tanker explosion – one count of conspiring to make illegal repairs on the cargo tanks and to defraud the United States Department of Transportation, and one count of welding without required certifications.
He also pleaded guilty to one count of tax evasion, one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and one count of bank fraud. Johansson admitted that he committed the bank fraud offenses stemming from a COVID-19 Paycheck Protection Program scam while he was on pretrial release in the gasoline tanker explosion case.
Johansson controlled and operated two Corona, California-based trucking companies: National Distribution Services Inc. (NDSI), which operated from about 2000 through 2015, and NDSI’s successor company, Wholesale Distribution Inc. (WDI), which does business as Quality Services. He established NDSI following a 15-month federal prison sentence he served after one of his welders was killed in a similar tanker explosion in 1993. Johansson created WDI to take over NDSI’s operations so he could continue to operate cargo tanks that were ordered out of service after two more welding explosions at NDSI in 2012 and 2014, according to court documents.
Despite NDIS not being certified to conduct in-house welding repairs on its cargo tanks, Johansson and his shop manager, co-defendant Enrique Garcia, discussed directing two NDSI workers to repair a cargo tank on May 5, 2014, and the following day, Garcia ordered the welding repairs. Because the tank had not been completely purged of its fumes and crude oil, the sparks from the welding caused an explosion, killing one worker and seriously injuring the other.
He also admitted that, from May 2014 to April 2018, he and other NDSI and WDI employees conspired to obstruct a federal investigation into the explosion.
In April 2020, while free on bond in the tanker case, Johansson directed another trucking company he controlled, Ontario, California-based Western Distribution LLC, to apply for a $436,390 PPP loan. He then immediately spent the PPP funds, largely on non-payroll expenses, and instead laid off most of the company’s employees before rehiring them later in 2020.
In March 2021, Johansson caused Western Distribution to repeat the same fraudulent representations concerning its employee lists and payroll numbers to obtain another PPP loan of $231,527. The total loss in the COVID-relief fraud matter is approximately $667,917.
United States District Judge Virginia A. Phillips has scheduled a May 9, 2022, sentencing hearing, at which time Johansson will face a statutory maximum sentence of 100 years in federal prison.
Locomation partners with firm to align insurance industry with autonomous tech
Autonomous truck tech developer Locomation has partnered with Aon, a professional services firm that provides a range of risk, retirement and health services.
Through the partnership, Aon will work with Locomation and insurance providers to assess the autonomous technology risks and align them with insurance industry best practices.
The collaboration will also aim to support one of Locomation’s long-term goals of reducing customers’ operating costs through lower insurance rates for carriers, shippers, truck manufacturers, and others using Locomation’s autonomous truck technology.
Volvo hosting online event addressing transition to electric
Volvo Trucks will host a global online event to address the transition to electric trucks.
The goal for the event is to show how companies can go electric and inspire trucking companies to get started.
“With this initiative we want to encourage transport buyers and hauliers to take their first important steps towards electromobility. Offering fossil free transport will be a key to staying competitive,” says Roger Alm, President Volvo Trucks.
The event will be held at 10 a.m. Eastern on Tuesday, Oct. 12. Registration is available online here.
Pride Transport boosts driver pay
The most recent pay increase, which took effect Friday, Oct. 1, joins the previous two pay increases from July 2021 and December 2020 for a total of 10 cents-per-mile pay increase for the year.
The company says its average truck driver will now be expected to make $70,000 in earnings annually, an increase of over 20% from pre-pandemic levels.
The new pay rate range for a solo over-the-road driver at Pride is now between 51 cpm up to .75 cpm. A $10,000 sign-on bonus is paid out at a rate of $100 per week during the first two years of employment.