Dagenham made diesel V6s ready for shipping to Australia when Ford was still building the Territory SUV. We learned this week a similar English engine now goes into the US F-150 truck

Dagenham made diesel V6s ready for shipping to Australia when Ford was still building the Territory SUV. We learned this week a similar English engine now goes into the US F-150 truck

Will any top level Volkswagen executives ever go to prison, as happened to a couple of sacrificial lambs thrown early on to US prosecutors? It's a question which comes to mind following the unexpected revelation last night that the US Justice Department has filed criminal charges against former VW CEO Martin Winterkorn, accusing him of conspiring to cover up diesel emissions cheating. Filing charges is one thing - getting the good Herr Winterkorn across the Atlantic to a US court room is the tricky bit.

As the Reuters news agency noted, so far, the US has been able to successfully prosecute only two relatively low ranking VW officials (and one of those was nabbed only because he had, rather foolishly since being reassigned back to Germany, returned to the US for a holiday in Florida). No one was charged at either Toyota Motor (in connection with unintended acceleration) or at General Motors (for an ignition switch defect alleged to have caused many deaths and hundred of serious injuries). German officials are still only 'investigating' various dieselgate allegations and no VW Really Big Cheese has yet faced a judge at home in Germany, let alone in the US. Somehow, I don't think Winterkorn will be aboard a US-bound plane anytime soon to hand himself over voluntarily and, anyway, there's no extradition deal in place to allow him to be forced abroad.

What would be interesting, in these current tariff-war times: President Trump threatening German automakers with vested interests in the US (such as several southern state assembly plants exporting worldwide) unless VW presents Winterkorn's head to Justice. Imagine the tweets. Which is probably where that idea would begin and end. To be fair, VW settled criminal charges with Justice last year and agreed to a US$4.3bn payment. It also agreed to spend over $25bn in the US to address claims from owners, environmental regulators, states and dealers and is buying back about 500,000 polluting US vehicles. Many are now stored in places such as desert airfields around the country. It has also set up Electrify America to install a network of EV recharging stations across the US. We've been keeping an eye on VW's 'diesel issue' for quite some time now and our coverage is neatly packaged here if you fancy a backgrounder.

I was intrigued to learn this week the new diesel engine option for Ford's top selling, US market F-150 truck comes from Olde Englande. Specifically the Ford engine plant at Dagenham, relaunched a while back as a JV with PSA primarily to build diesels. With former captive customers Jaguar Land Rover and Volvo Cars steadily weaning themselves off Ford engines, developing their own lines of petrol and diesel I4s, I imagine the extra business, especially at the rate the F-150 sells (896,764 in the US alone last year, up 9.3%; 73,104 in 2018 to the end of last month, up 3.5%, our US statistician Bill Cawthon says), will be welcome. Dagenham also used to ship diesel V6s to Ford Australia for its Territory SUV but that ended with Australian manufacturing a while back.

April was the first month of Ford's US arch-rival General Motors not providing quarterly sales statistics so the aforementioned Mr Cawthon relegated them to 'other' in his latest report which, with GM's results estimated, suggested the market is holding up fairly well four months in.

Tesla seems to always be in the news and this report, from the UK for once, suggests the odd driver may be over-estimating the ability of Autopilot, something that is under scrutiny in the US after a couple of high profile and, sadly, fatal crashes. Meanwhile, Elon Musk did himself no favours by being petulant with analysts on a conference call and paid the price with an almost instant drop in the share price. Reportedly, he's losing over US$22,000 a car.

Management moves, or, more trendily, 'changes of leadership', are always interesting and, this week, we learned Tata-owned Jaguar Land Rover's Grant McPherson is to join the board as executive director, manufacturing, replacing the retiring Wolfgang Stadler. McPherson, currently director of quality and automotive safety, starts in the new role on 1 July reporting directly to CEO Ralf Speth. He will be responsible for more than 20,000 people working across the company's UK and global manufacturing operations and logistics teams. Big job in my favourite part of the industry - gathering in the bits and bashing out the metal.

Have a nice weekend.

Graeme Roberts, Deputy Editor, just-auto.com

Auto market intelligence
from just-auto

• Auto component fitment forecasts
• OEM & tier 1 profiles & factory finder
• Analysis of 30+ auto technologies & more