Business Digest: Waymo escalates legal battle with Uber


TRANSPORTATION

Waymo escalates legal battle with Uber

SAN FRANCISCO — A self-driving car company founded by Google is presenting new evidence to support allegations that a former manager stole technology sold to Uber to help the ride-hailing service build its own robot-powered vehicles.

Waymo, a project hatched by Google eight years ago, wove its tale of deceit in sworn statements filed Friday in a San Francisco federal court.

The documents try to make a case that former Waymo manager Anthony Levandowski conceived a scheme to steal key secrets before leaving the company last year to launch an autonomous vehicle startup that he had been discussing with Uber.

It’s the latest salvo in a battle that started last month when Waymo sued Levandowski and Uber for alleged theft of the technology for “LiDAR,” an array of sensors that enable self-driving cars to see what’s around them so they can safely navigate roads. Experts say an effective LiDAR system typically takes years to develop.

After leaving Waymo, Levandowski started a self-driving truck company called Otto that Uber bought for $680 million to accelerate an expansion into autonomous vehicles.

Uber called Waymo’s claims “a baseless attempt to slow down a competitor.”

MANUFACTURING

Caterpillar denies skirting tax laws

WASHINGTON — A week after its headquarters and other facilities were raided by a number of federal agencies including the Internal Revenue Service, Caterpillar denied that it had broken any federal tax laws.

“The IRS has challenged Caterpillar’s taxes for years 2007 - 2012,” the company said Friday. “We disagree with the IRS’ position, have cooperated for requests for information, and believe that we are compliant with tax laws and stand by our financial reporting.”

Caterpillar has been challenged for some time by federal agencies in regard to its accounting practices and last week the company said that the raids may have been related to a Swiss business, called CSARL.

In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission last month, Caterpillar said that the IRS had informed the company that it owed $2 billion in additional taxes for the years 2010 to 2012 because of profits from that Swiss unit.

“Caterpillar takes very seriously its obligation to follow tax law and pay what it owes,” the company said Friday.

AUTOMAKERS

BMW adds 134,000 SUVs to recall

DETROIT — BMW is adding nearly 134,000 SUVs to a 2016 recall to fix driveshaft joints that can fail and could cause the vehicles to stop moving.

The expanded recall covers certain X5 and X6 SUVs from the 2011 to 2014 model years in the U.S. and Canada.

The company recalled about 21,000 of the vehicles last year. It decided to expand the recall after getting more warranty claims.

BMW says some front universal joint seals were manufactured wrong and can let water and dirt into the joint. That can cause faster wear and potential failure. The company says in government documents that it has no reports of crashes or injuries.

BMW will replace the front driveshaft at no cost to owners starting on April 24.

AIR TRAVEL

Southwest says traffic rose in February

FORT WORTH, Texas — Southwest Airlines said its passenger traffic in February grew 1.1 percent as it increased its network capacity by 1.2 percent.

The Dallas-based carrier said its load factor was flat at 79.0 percent.

Southwest also revised its unit revenue estimates for the quarter, telling investors it will decline in the two to three percent range as it lost traffic with the heavy rainfall in California.

“In addition, there was unexpected softness in close-in demand in the second half of February that has since rebounded in March. Bookings and unit revenue trends beyond first quarter 2017 remain encouraging,” the carrier said.

Shares of Southwest were down $1.72 Friday morning, trading around $54.64.



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