Tesla claims engineer stole secrets just days into the job

A former Tesla Inc. software engineer was ordered to appear before a federal judge to face allegations that three days into his job, he started stealing confidential files and transferring them to a personal storage account.

During his two-week employment ending Jan. 6, Alex Khatilov stole more than 6,000 scripts, or files of code, that automate a broad range of business functions, Tesla argues in its trade-secret theft complaint filed in U.S. District Court for Northern California.

Tesla convinced U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers in Oakland, Calif., that the threat posed is serious enough that she granted a restraining order Friday requiring Khatilov to immediately preserve and return all files, records and emails to the company and appear before her, remotely, on Feb. 4.

Elon Musk’s EV maker has aggressively pursued lawsuits against other former employees and rival companies that it has accused of poaching engineers and stealing proprietary data.

A software automation engineer, Khatilov was hired as one of a “select few Tesla employees” to have access to the files, which the company says were unrelated to his job. Tesla says it had to sue because Khatilov lied about his theft and tried to delete evidence of it.

Khatilov said he was surprised and shocked by Tesla’s lawsuit. He said in an interview that after he was hired on Dec. 28, Tesla sent him a file containing information for new hires. He said he transferred it to his personal Dropbox cloud account to use later on his personal computer.

“Nobody told me using Dropbox is prohibited,” Khatilov said. “I don’t know why they claim it’s sensitive information, I didn’t have access to any sensitive information.” Companies wanting to maintain protection over files normally block their improper installation, he added.

Days later, Khatilov said he showed Tesla the information in his Dropbox when security asked, and deleted the data at the company’s request. A few hours later Tesla called to tell him he was fired.

According to Tesla, after investigators found thousands of confidential files in Khatilov’s personal storage, the engineer said he forgot about them and tried to destroy the data at the start of the interview. Tesla says it doesn’t know if he previously copied or sent the files to other locations. Khatilov said in the interview that he didn’t send them to anyone or anywhere.

“The scripts are extremely valuable to Tesla, and they would be to a competitor,” the company claimed in the lawsuit. “Access to these scripts would enable engineers at other companies to reverse engineer Tesla’s processes to create a similar system in a fraction of the time and with a fraction of the expense.”

The New York Post reported on the case earlier.

J.D. Power III, founder of influential car quality survey, dies at 89

James David Power III, who turned a scrappy home business that tracked customer satisfaction with new-vehicle quality into a giant global market research firm that today monitors everything from consumers’ experience with new-car sales and service, to auto lenders, airlines, health care providers, homebuilders and hoteliers, died Saturday.

He was 89 years old. He died Saturday of natural causes at his home in Westlake Village, Calif., son James David Power IV said by telephone.

J.D. Power, today headquartered in Troy, Mich., was launched in the family kitchen with automotive customer surveys that measured and ranked new-vehicle quality.

The company’s annual initial quality survey, which measures problems with new vehicles in the first 90 days of ownership, and a separate study that tracks long-term dependability, are perhaps the most closely watched performance benchmarks for reliability in the auto industry.

The company entered the auto market with its first client, Toyota Motor Co., in 1969.

It has expanded to include company rankings across a diverse range of industries, including electronics and appliances, fitness and recreation, media and entertainment, technology, software and more.

Power’s early automotive surveys helped detect consumers’ budding preference for front-wheel drive and the woes that prompted automakers to abandon the rotary engines favored by Mazda.

“He created a measurable standard,” Bob Lutz, former head of product development at General Motors and Chrysler, told Business Week in 1996. “For that, he deserves our utmost respect.”

Power, a former financial analyst at Ford who later represented General Motors as a marketing research consultant for Marplan, launched J.D. Power and Associates in 1968 in the family’s kitchen in Calabasas, Calif.

His wife, Julie, was co-founder, and their three children at the time were the associates.

Julie handled tabulations while their kids stuffed questionnaires and cover letters into envelopes, attaching quarters using tape as an incentive for recipients to return the survey.

It wasn’t until Julie noticed reports of Mazda breakdowns caused by defective O-rings while she was tabulating surveys in 1973 that J.D. Power and Associates gained distinction. Power wasn’t a car expert. He and Julie didn’t even know what an O-ring was, but they knew it was hurting the engine.

When the The Wall Street Journal reported Mazda’s engine problems, based on J.D. Power’s study, the company gained nationwide recognition and became a leading voice of customer data.

“Lo and behold we were in nearly every newspaper in the world and on the radio in 24 hours,” Power recalled in an interview with The Boston Globe in 2014. “The name J.D. Power started to get a lot of recognition.”

Power sold J.D. Power and Associates to McGraw-Hill in 2005. London-based XIO acquired J.D. Power from S&P Global Inc., formerly McGraw-Hill, in 2016 for $1.1 billion. It merged with Autodata Solutions in 2019, putting it under the ownership of Thoma Bravo, a private equity firm with offices in San Francisco and Chicago.

It was a radical thought in 1968, but with a simple mantra — “the customer’s opinion matters” — Power slowly began to win over each automaker: Mazda and Toyota early on, forging on to General Motors, followed by Volvo, Hyundai and Mitsubishi.

In 1976, Power launched a dealer attitude survey that detailed retail and distributor issues and helped establish a strong rapport with auto retailers. That study preceded the National Automobile Dealers Association’s own Dealer Attitude Survey.

Power’s research and findings, often critical of the Detroit 3, weren’t always welcomed.

He was booed at a 1980 auto industry conference in Detroit when he described his ways of measuring new-vehicle defects. Many in the audience jeered and heckled Power, with his family in attendance, as a meddling outsider.

“The hostility of the crowd was just unbelievable,” Power told Time magazine in 1993. “In another century they would have burned us as heretics.”

During the 1984 Super Bowl telecast, Subaru became the first automaker to advertise its J.D. Power rankings by running a commercial during the game.

Now more than 200,000 TV commercials and more than 2 billion print ad impressions refer to J.D. Power awards annually.

Power caused an uproar in 2003 when he published an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal calling for more efficient ways to sell automobiles than the current dealer franchise system.

He suggested retailers build multibrand megastores — the automotive equivalent of Walmart — because it is a better way to satisfy customers. He blamed state franchise laws that allow dealers to act as barriers to efficient distribution.

“Today, there is a hefty price for those artificial and anachronistic controls,” he claimed in the column, “and they add 30 percent to the base cost of a manufactured automobile.”

While several dealers protested by withdrawing from the Power Information Network, launched in 1990 to collect retail sales data from thousands of dealerships, the company emerged largely unscathed.

The company continued to grow and expand and acquired the NADA Used Car Guide in 2015 and NADAguides.com in 2017.

James David Power III was born on May 30, 1931, in Worcester, Mass.

He graduated from College of the Holy Cross in 1953 and earned an MBA at the University of Pennsylvania in 1959.

Power served as a Coast Guard officer for four years in the mid-1950s and made three voyages to the Arctic and one to the Antarctic, relaying data to scientists for a better understanding of the polar regions.

Power applied lessons learned from his Coast Guard stint to his startup.

“You have to be true to yourself, true to everyone else that you run into,” he told the Coast Guard Compass in 2012. “I really learned teammates count and that you have to have the environment where everyone trusts everyone else.”

He worked as a financial analyst at Ford Motor Co. before joining Marplan as a marketing research consultant for General Motor’s Buick and GMC Truck and Coach divisions.

He also served as marketing research executive for construction and farm equipment manufacturer J.I. Case Co. and director of corporate planning at McCulloch Corp., a Los Angeles-based engine manufacturer.

He received the Automotive Hall of Fame’s Distinguished Service Citation in 1992, which is awarded to seven of the industry’s most accomplished leaders each year, and the Lone Sailor Award in 2012, which is given to sea service veterans who have stood out in their careers while carrying on the Navy’s core values of honor, courage and commitment. Power was inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame in 2014.

Julie Power died of multiple sclerosis in 2002. The Power family started the Kenrose Kitchen Table Foundation, which supports organizations honoring the memory of Dave and Julie Power, including the National Coast Guard Museum, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and College of the Holy Cross.

He is survived by his wife, Joan, whom he married in 2003, four children, their spouses, two step-daughters and numerous grandchildren.

For a man linked so directly to the review and reputation of hundreds of nameplates over the years, from minivans to luxury sedans to SUVs to sports cars, his favorite was somewhat peculiar.

Power told The Boston Globe in 2014 he coveted most the car he was driving at the time — a 2003 Mercury Marauder, a high-performance version of the Grand Marquis, mostly because of its simplicity and ease of operation.

“It’s the police package and looks like a police car. It’s rear-wheel drive. It has exceptional acceleration and steering,” Power told the paper. “I’ve had it for 10 years now, and I’ve only got 50,000 miles on it. I like it because it doesn’t have all those fancy push-buttons and touchscreens and all that. I just get in, turn the key, and drive off.”

Additional reporting by Jamie Butters.

Who’s who at Stellantis

Executives from PSA Group make up a slight majority of the Stellantis leadership team announced last week, though Fiat Chrysler Automobiles executives are in charge of the company’s finances, marketing and North American business.

Mark Stewart remains North American COO under Mike Manley, the former FCA CEO who is now head of the Americas. There are two design chiefs: FCA’s Ralph Gilles and PSA’s Jean-Pierre Ploue, with their duties divided by brand.

See the entire roster of top 43 executives, with photos, titles and their roots to either PSA or FCS by clicking here.

Latest James Bond Film, “No Time to Die”, Postponed to October 2021

Latest James Bond Film, “No Time to Die”, Postponed to October 2021

Update: This post, which was originally published on December 5, 2019, has been updated to reflect the latest release date for “No Time to Die”. The film is now due to hit theaters on October 8, 2021.

James Bond is the quintessential spy. The orphan turned assassin likes to work alone, but frequently shares the silver screen with some pretty hot sheet metal. The second trailer for the latest Bond film, No Time to Die, gives us a more thorough look at the 25th Bond film that’s been postponed (again) and is now due to hit the big screen on October 8, 2021.

Like the first one, the newest trailer is packed with action. Once again, we see Bond’s Aston Martin DB5 with miniguns in its headlamps, as well as a number of Land Rover Defenders racing about off-road. This is the fifth and likely final James Bond film Daniel Craig will headline, and we decided to put together a list of the cars that have starred alongside the most recent incarnation of the legendary British spy. Check out the latest trailer below and read on for a look at almost all the James Bond cars Craig has piloted through the years.

Casino Royale

The first installment of the Craig-led Bond film era features a 2006 Aston Martin DBS that is eventually rolled at the Millbrook Proving Ground in Bedford, England. Toward the end of the film, Bond is thrown into the back of a Jaguar XJ8 of the same vintage. The bad guys always drive Jags.

Quantum of Solace

The second Bond film to feature Craig has the most “eclectic” assortment of cars on its roster. After Bond almost completely destroys his black DBS in the opening minutes of the film, the cars take a turn for the less exciting. Bond ends up driving a retro Land Rover and a black Ford Edge—powered by hydrogen—throughout the film. Quantum of Solace does feature a 1970s Volkswagen Beetle, though!

Skyfall

Skyfall doesn’t feature many vehicles, but M (Judy Dench) and Bond take a long road trip to the orphanage where Bond was raised in an Aston Martin DB5. In their last stand against Silva (Javier Bardem), the DB5 is sadly destroyed. But I guess that’s Q’s problem, not ours.

Spectre

Spectre featured a host of sweet sheet metal. Bond pilots an Aston Martin DB10 concept—into the Tiber River in Rome—while being pursued by Hinx (Dave Bautista) in a Jaguar CX-75 supercar. Sadly, neither of the two cars ever made it to production, but it’s a chase we’re happy to have seen played out on the big screen. The previous generation Land Rover Defender also makes an appearance in a snowy action sequence in which Bond chases a de-winged propeller plane down a mountain.

No Time to Die

The newest installment in the Bond franchise isn’t set to be released until October, but a few sweet cars have already been revealed in the initial teaser trailer. The new Land Rover Defender, which made an appearance at the L.A. Auto Show, an Aston Martin DBS Superleggera, and an ’80s Aston Martin V-8 Vantage that Bond will be piloting through London can be seen in the trailer.

Ford’s Edsel Was a Loser, but Its 410 V-8 Engine Was Awesome

Ford’s Edsel Was a Loser, but Its 410 V-8 Engine Was Awesome

If you look at any “Worst Cars Ever LOL” lists around the internet (or even in books), you will inevitably find a photo of the Edsel’s schnoz featured prominently. Many remember Ford’s failed marque solely as a failure for sundry reasons, but few remember the details of the Edsel lineup itself. That includes the 410 cubic-inch Edsel-475 V-8 in the top-range Corsair and Citation models, which is worth a few words.

We won’t spend a whole lot of time talking about why the Edsel failed, but the year-long “slam dunk” marketing campaign that anticipated the car’s release flopped. You can read entire books about that if you want, but the engines designed for the Edsel’s 1958 release played a central part in how Ford hoped it would appeal. Yeah, it’s a stretch to call the Edsel aesthetically beautiful, but a factory engine option with 375 horsepower and 475 lb.-ft. of torque was something pretty grand in 1958.

That option for the larger Corsairs and Citations displaced 410 cubic inches. While it wasn’t the largest engine in Ford’s inventory—Lincoln and Mercury had a 430—the big Edsel option did give real power to a brand name that was supposed to sit between Ford and Mercury in the company hierarchy.

The 410 made good power and feature advanced engine-idle controls, but it lasted even less time than the Edsel nameplate itself. The big-displacement 410 disappeared from the order sheet for 1959 while Ford shifted away from horsepower and toward economy, offering a straight-six, a 292 cubic-inch Y-Block, and the “Super-Express” 352 instead.

Ironically, the Edsel’s engine legacy is not the 410, but rather the downmarket 361 (called the Edsel-400 in the marketing lingo), the Express 332, and the Super-Express 352. Those engines were early versions of Ford’s FE (“Ford-Edsel”) V-8, which was totally unrelated to the Edsel 410. The early Edsel FEs would become the basis for many of Ford’s most memorable engines, include the single-overhead camshaft (SOHC) 427 and the 390 found in many classic Ford muscle cars.

Ford built approximately 100 427-powered Thunderbolts in 1964.

By 1960, Edsel had thrown away the horrendous horseshoe grille and made an attractive car, but it was too late by then. There were no ’61 Edsels. Like most historical oddballs, the Edsel is celebrated as a collector and a classic today. It’s hard to know exactly what its legacy is, aside from a blueprint for what not to do with a new car.

This article originally appeared on Roadkill.com.

Tiny Nissan e-NV200 Camper Concept Is One Cozy Little Van

Tiny Nissan e-NV200 Camper Concept Is One Cozy Little Van

In the near future, could your adventure van be electric? Seems like it’s going that way. And while its early days yet to get the sort of raw energy density necessary to, say, overland for a month off the grid, a tiny electric camper such as this e-NV200 Winter Camper Concept van might be great for brief excursions in the not-so-remote countryside.

Nissan Europe is exploring this idea with this camperized version of its tiny electric van, which is similar to the NV200 cargo van sold in the United States, except for the fact that it uses a battery-electric drivetrain. Anyone who’s seen one of these things in person can agree that it’s just the right size for smaller commercial vehicle use, but it appears to be a bit claustrophobic for camping duties—as these official pictures reveal. On the other hand, you can’t help but cozy up with what we’d hope is a very close companion on your winter camping adventure, so maybe it’s better that there’s not enough space to do anything else.

Mechanically, this electric van appears mostly unaltered. That said, its ride height is raised slightly to clear a set of off-road-oriented tires, and it sports extra spotlights for visibility in bad weather. The camping gear includes a pop-top and a rechargeable power pack (presumably for shore power functions) that is tied to a roof-mounted solar panel. A small integrated kitchen and folding beds provide a modicum of creature comforts.

Upfitters are already turning e-NV200s into campers, so it’s not clear if this is just a fun concept from Nissan or a preview of a factory conversion. We’d bet on the former. If you want to make your own tiny Nissan e-camper, then you better head to Europe where the brand sells the little electric van that serves as this concept’s base.