Category Archives: Motoring News

Tesla's Cybertruck May Not Be Legal In Europe, According To Expert

Tesla’s Cybertruck May Not Be Legal In Europe, According To Expert

Few vehicles have attracted so much attention, positive and negative, as Tesla’s Cybertruck. But it may never take to European roads due to a plethora of safety regulations…

Europe Might Not Be Going Cyber

Last November, Elon Musk presented the world with the Cybertruck; whether it wanted it or not. It was a rocky unveiling from the start, with a demonstration designed to show off the vehicle’s durability ending in broken glass. Nevertheless, despite its divisive styling, it’s managed to attract a cult following. And, if deposits are anything to go by, it should have plenty of sales to look forward to. But they won’t be coming from Europe, at least according to one expert.

‘Strong Modifications’ Needed

Stefan Teller, a German TUV safety certification expert, believes the Cybertruck will need to receive “strong modifications to the basic structure” if it wants to meet European regulations. In America, it’ll be classified as a ‘light duty truck’. This will exempt it from a number of safety considerations; including those that concern pedestrians and other road-users. This isn’t the case in Europe. Teller explained, “the front of the vehicle must not be stiff. The bumper and bonnet must be able to absorb energy to protect the pedestrians”. For type approval, Teller claims Tesla would need to follow 50 to 60 regulations.

Disintegrate And Dissipate

The Cybertruck is built for strength and durability, being composed of strong, rolled stainless steel panels; angular and aggressive-looking. This is ideal for creating a sci-fi aesthetic and looking after occupants. But when it comes to colliding with pedestrians, it’s a different story entirely. Regulations in Europe require vehicles to deform in very specific ways upon the point of collision.

For occupants, this means the car needs to disintegrate to dissipate energy. For other road-users, it must effectively cushion the blow. But as Teller says, this probably wouldn’t be the case with the Cybertruck. “nothing is deformed in the event of an impact; instead, enormous forces act on the occupants. Airbags then no longer help”, he said. He concluded, “It will not be possible to sell it in this country [Germany] as a mass-production vehicle on the basis of a type approval. It is still a big task for Mr. Musk”.

So, there you have it. We may never see legions of Cybertrucks take to the streets of London, Paris and Berlin. That said, would there even be enough space for them anyway? Try fitting one in a parking space next time you pop to Tesco…

Opinion: With The Cybertruck, Elon Musk Has Gone Too Far –

Seven Safety Features Soon To Be Mandatory For Your Vehicle –

With over 16,000 approved garages, a 24/7 support service and a host of cost-saving offers, Autoserve can keep your car moving smoothly. For any further questions please call Autoserve on 0121 521 3500.

Coronavirus Shutdowns Could Threaten EU Emissions Targets

Coronavirus Shutdowns Could Threaten EU Emissions Targets

The continued spread of the coronavirus in China could delay delivery of essential hybrid and electric vehicles, compromising emission targets…

Coronavirus And Emissions Plans

All car manufacturers have their own, individual targets to meet when it comes to their line-ups. All of them, however, will need to comply with upcoming emissions legislation in the EU and other European countries. A crucial part of meeting those targets is rolling hybrids and fully-electric cars off of production lines. Coronavirus, however, threatens to slow down their production, delivery and sale; compromising plans years in the making. This isn’t just hearsay, either, it’s a serious concern within the industry.

Emilio Herrera, Kia Europe’s chief operating officer, has emphasised the impact of the coronavirus on car manufacturing. He said, “our planning to hit the targets has been many years in the making, but coronavirus is a curveball that of course nobody has factored in”. He added, “today we don’t know the impact, but it could be that the whole industry is left in a position where it cannot fulfil the sales necessary and we have to go to the EU and plead for force majeure”.

Herrera doesn’t believe the outbreak in China is sufficient to prevent Kia, or its competitors, from meeting EU-imposed targets. Instead, he regards it as a ‘worst-case’ scenario’. As he explained, “there is a potential worst-case scenario that we have to be prepared for. I just hope we don’t have to go there”.

Plant Closures  

Practically every automaker in China has been forced to close plants and facilities in light of the coronavirus outbreak. These include the likes of Volkswagen, BMW, Nissan, Honda and Ford. A number scheduled re-openings have also been cancelled, as the crisis stubbornly advances throughout the country; despite the efforts of Beijing. Ford’s CEO, Jim Hackett, recently stated that it was “too early” to determine how the virus would affect the company’s operations. Few analysts expect the final disclosure to be positive.

What the coronavirus has revealed is that the automotive industry is incredibly fragile. Many legacy automakers have become increasingly dependent on China for sales, production and supply networks. But tough market conditions have begun to eat away at notions that it’s a guaranteed cash-cow. It’s just another entry on a long list of crises wreaking havoc on manufacturers. Whether the EU will factor in the virus’ impact on emissions targets remains to be seen.

Volkswagen Is Automaker ‘Most Exposed’ To Coronavirus Impact –

You’re 25 Times More Likely To Die From Air Pollution Than Car Accidents –

With over 16,000 approved garages, a 24/7 support service and a host of cost-saving offers, Autoserve can keep your car moving smoothly. For any further questions please call Autoserve on 0121 521 3500.

Nissan Is Now Worth Less Than Subaru, Following Plummet In Share Price

Nissan Is Now Worth Less Than Subaru, Following Plummet In Share Price

Nissan shares have fallen by 9.6% to a decade low, causing its value to plunge below that of Subaru. It’s now in fifth place amongst Japanese automakers…

A Decade Low

Nissan share prices now sit at a decade low, following a cut to its annual profit outlook. It’s also scrapped its year-end dividend payout. As a result, it’s slipped to fifth place amongst Japanese car manufacturers in terms of market value; putting it behind the likes of Subaru, Suzuki and Honda. Its current market capitalisation stands at 2.17 trillion Yen; that’s just over £15 billion. The company’s stock has declined by 19% since the start of the year and follows declines of 28% and 22% in 2018 and 2017 respectively.

All of these troubles come at a time when Nissan is struggling to redefine its identity post-Carlos Ghosn. Plunged in a media storm caused by its former CEOs antics, it’s become distracted from pressing issues. These include its ailing fortunes in China and its aging line-up. It’s also shedding enormous amounts of money in its attempt to pursue electrification and autonomous technologies. Current boss Makoto Uchida has also been accused of being an ‘invisible’ executive since assuming the role in late 2019.

‘We Are Making Progress’

Uchida has attempted to reassure investors. He said, “we are making progress, but sales volumes have been weak so we need to do more restructuring than initially planned”. Part of this ‘restructuring’ consists of 12,500 job cuts globally, something it announced in July last year. It’s also pursuing legal action against Ghosn in attempt to reacquire £69 million in damages. Precisely how the coronavirus outbreak in China will affect the company remains to be seen. But it has temporarily closed five plants. “Considering that we won’t resume production until mid-February, that will have some impact”, Uchida said.

Nissan seems to be in a troubling spiral of decline and, outwardly, it doesn’t seem to be properly grasped by its decision-makers. That’s bound to have ‘some impact’ on the tens of thousands of people set to lose their jobs; and many others who, whilst currently safe, might not be for much longer.

Toyota’s Lexus Brand Sales Have Surged Globally –

A Nissan Leaf Has Set A New Driverless Car Journey Record –

With over 16,000 approved garages, a 24/7 support service and a host of cost-saving offers, Autoserve can keep your car moving smoothly. For any further questions please call Autoserve on 0121 521 3500.

General Motors Closes The Door On The Holden Brand

General Motors Closes The Door On The Holden Brand

It was once the dominant player in Australia, but years of bad management reversed its fortunes. Yesterday, General Motors took Holden off of life support…

The End of An Australian Great

Have you ever heard of Holden? Possibly not. But it was once the crown and jewel in Australia’s automotive industry; the largest-selling brand in the country, in fact, for a time. Its fortunes have been, well, unfortunate for years; but yesterday its owner, General Motors, announced that the brand (in existence since 1856) would be retired in 2021. It’s caused instantaneous anger throughout Down Under.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison didn’t mince his words. He said, “I am disappointed but not surprised. But I am angry, like I think many Australians would be”. He added, “Australian taxpayers put millions into this multinational company. They [GM] let the brand just wither away on their watch. Now they are leaving it behind”. He’s not exaggerating. The company received 1.8 billion Australian dollars in subsidiaries between 2001 and 2012 alone.

The brand had actually stopped manufacturing cars back in 2017. It marked the end of automotive manufacturing in the country at large; with Toyota pulling out just before Holden and Ford leaving in 2016.

Unique Contributions

It might sound like a hard sell in convincing a Brit that what goes on with car manufacturing in Australia has lessons for us. Whilst Australians share our language, their country couldn’t be more different. It takes days to traverse it from coast to coast; not hours. It also houses radically different weather conditions. Meaning any crossing would probably involve snow tires as well as a powerful heating system. Its cars, then, at least for a time, needed to be uniquely equipped for the country’s native challenges.

A good example of this is the ‘ute’ category. Essentially occupying a space between a sedan and a pick-up, it’s become the vehicle of choice for an Australian tradesman. Other vehicles, like Holden’s Falcon GTHO (a four door option from the 70s) had more power than some contemporary Ferraris. Generally, Australian cars were big and boasted big engines, too. Not to mention broad, arguably over-emphasised side windows.

Why Did Holden Fail?

With these cars, Holden dominated the Australian market up until the 80s. From then on, cracks began to show. Australian labour rates were much more expensive than those found in nearby Asian neighbours. The Australian dollar has been, historically, relatively strong; meaning exports weren’t profitable enough.

The Australian government also abolished import tariffs (once as high as 60%) and reduced support for local manufacturing. The Button Car Plan of the 80s, produced by the Labour Party, also de-emphasised volume and encouraged widespread badge-engineering; the result was a lot of cars nobody wanted to buy. Finally, Australian buying habits changed. Modern, largely urban consumers have moved away from larger, more utilitarian vehicles for trendier and tech-savvy options from Japan and Korea; better suited to city life.

All of these reasons might make Holden’s decline sound inevitable. Perhaps it was. But Australians are convinced that General Motors accelerated its decline. Former GM Holden Motorsport PR manager, Gerald McDornan, said he “shed a tear” upon hearing the news. He said, “in 2015 they [GM] brought some people in that weren’t car people. They had people from Singapore throwing their hats into the ring telling us what was going to happen”. He concluded, “they changed the brand”.

Why We Should Care?

In the 1970s, Australia was producing around half a million vehicles annually. That put it in tenth place globally. In 2004, it still produced 400,000 vehicles. This is even more of an accomplishment when we consider that Australia’s population is below 30 million. But today it produces none. Not a single car rolls off of Australian production lines and hasn’t since Holden stopped making its own cars in 2017. An entire industry has, effectively, disappeared over the course of a generation. The consequences are thousands of jobs lost (600 to follow GM’s announcement) and a cultural icon disappearing for good.

The UK’s automotive industry isn’t healthy; that’s an uncontroversial statement. Ford is closing its plant in Bridgend. Honda is closing its Swindon plant and Vauxhall’s Ellesmere site is at risk. Jaguar Land Rover is making thousands of job cuts and Nissan has expressed concerns over its vast Sunderland plant. The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders has repeatedly warned of the risks posed by Brexit and a lack of investment. Tesla’s Elon Musk also said the country was too risky an option for a ‘gigafactory’. In other words, there are few sources of good news.

The Bottom Line

Whilst Australia’s geography and economy has its peculiarities, it’s proof that no country should simply assume that it’ll always manufacture cars. Should Brexit negotiations go sour, and tariffs are implemented, it’ll become practically unsustainable to build cars in Britain. Barring small-scale, luxury operations that produce beautiful cars that none of us can afford. Although even some of these, like Aston Martin, are in trouble.

Holden was an Australian icon. Now it’s gone. Britain should learn its lessons.

With over 16,000 approved garages, a 24/7 support service and a host of cost-saving offers, Autoserve can keep your car moving smoothly. For any further questions please call Autoserve on 0121 521 3500.

Britain’s Hand Car Wash Industry Branded A ‘National Disgrace’

Britain’s hand car wash industry has been branded a ‘national disgrace’ for its labour abuses and for openly flouting taxation and environmental regulations…

A National Disgrace

Labour violations are “endemic in the hand car washing industry”. Those are the words of Matthew Taylor, the government’s interim director of labour market enforcement. He was speaking at Resolution Foundation, a labour market enforcement event held in Westminster. There he called for a “specific action and plan” in dealing with problems within the industry.

A recent report in the Financial Times suggested hand car washes have gained a significant amount of market share; largely from machine car washes. These are dominated by tiny operators, largely relying on labour from Eastern Europe. Problems concerning the mistreatment of labourers, environmental issues and health and safety failures all riddle hand car washes.

Research conducted by the Car Wash Association (CWA) discovered that less than 5% of 10,000 third-party hand car washes are located on functioning forecourts. As a result, they usually operate on car parks, brownfield sites and disused forecourts. A study in Nottingham and Leicester looked at 45 local hand car washes. It discovered a number of unsuitable locations, free-flowing dangerous chemicals and staff that weren’t equipped with safety equipment.

Practical Measures

The chairman of the Petrol Retailers and Car Wash Associations, Brian Madderson, is ‘excited’ that the government is taking action. He said, “we are excited that government, through the Office for Labour Market Enforcement, is at last proposing practical measures to combat the fast growing, mostly illegal, trade of non-compliant hand car washes”. He added, “it is a national disgrace that the UK has become the ‘go to’ country in Europe for non-compliant hand car washes; that openly flout tax, labour abuse and environmental regulations”. Madderson also emphasised how particular these problems are to the UK; being largely non-issues in the likes of Germany and the Benelux countries. There regulations are much more rigorous.

The Home Office has stated that it will ‘continue to work closely with law enforcement partners; such as the GLAA (Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority) and businesses to prevent modern slavery and bring perpetrators to justice’. Anyone who suspects someone of exploiting workers can contact the GLAA here.

The Dark Side Of Your Local Hand Car Wash –

How To Make Your Car Look Brand New With These Cleaning Tips –

With over 16,000 approved garages, a 24/7 support service and a host of cost-saving offers, Autoserve can keep your car moving smoothly. For any further questions please call Autoserve on 0121 521 3500.

Waymo: People Are Doing Drugs In Driverless Cars

Waymo: People Are Doing Drugs In Driverless Cars

Driverless cars are the gift that keeps on giving. That is if by ‘gift’ we mean problem after problem. Waymo employees are reportedly finding hypodermic needles in the company’s autonomous vehicles…

Driverless Drugs?

Back in 2018 Google-owned Waymo launched Waymo One; an Uber-like rideshare service. The difference was the vehicles involved would be autonomous, relying on driverless technology. By December 2019, it had upped the ante by offering rides in its vehicles without an on-board human safety driver. But what would otherwise be a technological leap has been mired by a rather sordid discovery. People are doing drugs in the vehicles and leaving their needles behind.

Unhappy Workers

As you might expect, Waymo employees aren’t best pleased by the trend. They claim they’ve been forced to clear the needles without proper training and that, ultimately, the company isn’t doing enough to protect them. One insider told the Verge that “I know a lot of the times [the workers are] just told to pick it up and clean it out and go on with their day when, you know, that’s a needle“.

However, a Waymo spokesperson brushed off the allegation. They said the company was, “only aware of a few incidents where needles were found in cars and that supervisors had been trained for those situations”. They also went on to suggest that the needless that had been discovered may have contained ‘harmless’ substances like insulin.

This isn’t the first time Waymo employees have been exposed to danger. Tests in Arizona have been met with pronounced hostility from locals. Some have aggressively driven around the autonomous vehicles and others have attempted to ram or obstruct them. Rocks have been thrown and one man even pointed a gun at a Waymo operator. Employees have claimed that no training protocols or literature have been offered in dealing with these situations, something the company denies.

Sharing Driverless Cars

Whilst the experiences of Waymo employees are concerning, the discovery of needles in driverless cars raises its own problems. Companies like Waymo, Uber and Tesla are working towards vast fleets of driverless taxis being rolled out in major towns and cities. Why? Because eliminating the need for drivers eliminates a major source of expense in the form of their wages. However, this does essentially mean that the interiors of these vehicles are, potentially, unmonitored. This presents the opportunity for questionable characters to use them in improper ways.

Think about the state of public toilets in many of Britain’s urban centres. They’re not exactly pleasant, are they? Well, driverless cars are at risk of going the way of public toilets; potentially becoming a refuge for illegal and questionable behaviours. A recent BMW advert emphasised the amorous potential offered by driverless cars. It seems to have overlooked the fact that people probably won’t like the idea of riding in a vehicle recently used by a couple lost in the moment. They certainly won’t want to be sat next to (or worse, on) a hypodermic needle.

Questions Of Privacy And Safety

The reality is that driverless cars, circulating all day and night in heavily populated areas, will be used by questionable characters; offering them an impersonal space in which to do as they please, with little thought of who might be using the vehicle next. The only way around this, conceivably, is extensive monitoring within the vehicle itself and regular check-ups by a team of human cleaners and inspectors. The former will raise enormous privacy concerns and the latter will be costly; eliminating the purpose, perhaps, of removing drivers from the equation.

Making a car driverless means making it drive as well as, or better than, a human. That’s extraordinarily difficult, as legacy automakers and tech companies alike have discovered. But making them safe and pleasant to ride in may be just as big of a challenge…

Driverless Cars: Hackers Will Be Able To Gridlock Entire Cities –

Would You Use A Driverless Car? –

With over 16,000 approved garages, a 24/7 support service and a host of cost-saving offers, Autoserve can keep your car moving smoothly. For any further questions please call Autoserve on 0121 521 3500.

Should We Really Be Placing A Ban On Plug-In Hybrids?

Should We Really Be Placing A Ban On Plug-In Hybrids?

Recently, the government shocked the nation by announcing that it’d be bring forward to the ban on new diesel and petrol car sales to 2035. Even more surprising was the plan to ban plug-in hybrids…

Plug-In Hybrids Under Fire

By 2035, it’ll be illegal to buy or sell a new diesel or petrol car. This ban was originally intended for 2040, but has been brought forward by the government. It’s also suggested that it’s open to bringing the date forward further still, pending further consultations. But whilst the role of plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) was once ambiguous, it’s now known that they’ll also fall under the ban. But is this the right move? Based on their environmental impact, a case can definitely be made.

As the name suggests, plug-in hybrids possess both an on-board engine and battery; meaning that, as well as combustion, it can also travel limited distances on electrical power alone; which can be topped up via an external source of power; much like a fully electric vehicle. For consumers, this means they can usually cover around 30 or so miles on electricity alone, all whilst enjoying the range of a diesel or petrol equivalent. This means, in theory, cheaper fuel bills and fewer emissions being pumped out into the atmosphere. The problem is that, ultimately, this theory is losing support.

‘Real-World Conditions’

The ‘green’ credentials of plug-in hybrids are now in doubt. This is because recent research has suggested that they emit three-times their stated figures for CO2 emissions and consume as much as three-times as much fuel in ‘real-world conditions’. When testing vehicles, figures are differentiated between lab-based conditions and those on the open road. The latter, involving a greater degree of variables, often produces worse figures than those in labs. Why? Because different temperatures, road conditions and driving styles all have an impact. For plug-ins, however, the difference is stark rather than novel.

The Miles Consultancy (TMC) has conducted research suggesting that the most popular PHEVs can triple the severity of their stated emissions and fuel consumption figures. An investigation by Emissions Analytics also found that they, when not charged, have ‘alarmingly’ high rates of fuel consumption and fuel emissions. This, in of itself, also draws strength from the fact that many hybrid drivers have been found to never charge their cars; instead opting for them purely for tax benefits.

What’s To Blame, Technology Or Human Error?

Paul Hollock, TMC’s managing director, has spoken frankly about the behaviour of PHEV drivers. He said, “on the evidence of our sample, one has to question whether some PHEVs ever see a charging cable. In a lot of cases, we see PHEVs never being charged, doing longer drives and this is not a good fit for a lot of car users”. Nick Molden, chief executive of Emissions Analytics, has spoken of the problem of assuming how PHEVs are used. He said, “the problem is the official figures are very sensitive to assumptions about how PHEVs are being charged and driven”.

If plug-in hybrids are never charged, they’re effectively diesel or petrol cars; just with additional weight achieved via a battery and its infrastructure. The result is that these cars are more polluting, at least in practice, than conventional options. This why Kia, in a statement, claimed ”responsibility lies with the owner, but used correctly, a PHEV will improve fuel economy and reduce tailpipe emissions”. But there are more and more questions being raised about the weight of the vehicles in general, even if they are used correctly. The sheer weight of the vehicles increases fuel consumption and emissions from tyres and braking systems.

Are Hybrids Redundant?

The strongest argument in favour of PHEVs is that they represent a good way of transitioning to zero-emission vehicles. They subtly introduce drivers to the charging process and using charging infrastructure. But if most hybrid drivers aren’t charging their cars at all, this theory falls flat on its face. In addition, given the improving range of fully-electric options, their appeal seems to be waning; especially as the charging network improves. Many popular hybrids have also been excluded from the plug-in grant and fully-electric cars will face 0% Benefit in Kind (BiK) rates from April.

Hybrids, judging from the behaviour of their owners, aren’t less-polluting. Even when they are correctly used, they can also still be more polluting than even conventional diesel and petrol options. With improvements being constantly made to EVs, their appeal continually diminishes. In this sense, then, they’re arguably on the wrong side of history. What remains to be seen, however, is whether EVs will be accessible and practical enough for mass-adoption by 2035. Many people remain, not unjustifiably, sceptical.

The question, then, isn’t ‘is the government right to ban hybrids?’ Instead, it’s more like ‘can the government make EVs a viable option by 2035?’

Hybrid Vehicles Explained –

EVs And Hybrids ‘Increasingly Suitable’ For Commuting –

With over 16,000 approved garages, a 24/7 support service and a host of cost-saving offers, Autoserve can keep your car moving smoothly. For any further questions please call Autoserve on 0121 521 3500.

These Are The Five Most Unreliable Cars In Britain

These Are The Five Most Unreliable Cars In Britain (There’s A Trend)

Some cars never let you down, even after covering tens of thousands of miles. Others, however, seem to spend more time in the garage than on the road network. Here are the five most unreliable cars in Britain…

The Most Unreliable Cars In Britain

WhatCar’s Reliability Survey has revealed the most unreliable cars available in Britain. Over 18,000 drivers reported on how dependable their cars had been over the last 12 months. Faults were divided into 14 categories and rated by seriousness. Respondents were also asked about how long their vehicles were off of the roads for and how much repairs cost. The result was a ‘reliability score’ being generated for 218 models from 31 brands.

But what’s most striking is that the most unreliable vehicles all seemed to share something in common; they’re SUVs. More importantly, many of them were ‘premium’ models and practically all of Jaguar Land Rovers models made the list…

Range Rover Evoque (2011-2019)

The Evoque scored just 78.4% on its reliability, making it the 5th most unreliable vehicle available in Britain. Owners faced difficulties with 13 of WhatCar’s 14 categories; with only steering being unaffected. Half of the affected vehicles were out of action for over a week and approximately 10% couldn’t be driven at all. Repairs cost between £101 and around £1500.

Range Rover Velar (2017 on)

A staggering 48% of Velar owned reported to have faced problems with their cars. Some 33% of them reported non-engine electrical faults. But there were also issues with bodywork, the sat-nav and interior trim. All of these Velars were repaired for free, but half of them took more than a week.

Jeep Renegade (2015 on)

If you own a Renegade and haven’t faced serious electrical faults, count yourself lucky. Half of the respondents reported at least one issue with the likes of the radio and dashboard displays. However, most of the cars could still be driven and repairs usually only took a day to carry out. That said, fees ranged between £51 and £1500.

Nissan X-Trail (2014 on)

If you think SUV, you probably think ‘tough’ and ‘sturdy’. Think again, this just a product of clever marketing. Making a car bigger doesn’t make it stronger and the X-Trail is a good example of this. 39% of owners faced problems and these concerned 11 of the 14 fault categories. Roughly half of these were repaired in a day, but the rest were out of action for a week or more. Again, repairs cost up to £1,500.

Range Rover (2013 on)

The Range Rover is an iconic vehicle. Today, however, it’s also the most unreliable one available to British motorists. Its most common problems concern its battery, but it also faces miseries with its suspension and gearbox systems. Half of these repairs were free, but a third cost at least £1,000. A third of all Range Rovers were also immobile for more than a week. In other words, Jaguar needs to get its act together.

The Ford Fiesta Was The Nation’s Best-Selling Car Of 2019 –

Opinion: Ten Reasons Why You Really Shouldn’t Buy An SUV –

With over 16,000 approved garages, a 24/7 support service and a host of cost-saving offers, Autoserve can keep your car moving smoothly. For any further questions please call Autoserve on 0121 521 3500.

Tesla Remotely Disables Software Autopilot On Used Model 3 After It Was Sold

Tesla Remotely Disabled Autopilot Software On A Used Model S After It Was Sold

Tesla owners can regularly look forward to over-the-air software updates. But there’s another side to a car manufacturer having real-time control over its vehicles, as one Tesla customer found out…

Remotely Disabled

A man known only as ‘Alec’ recently purchased a used Model S from a third-party dealer. It was advertised as possessing “Full Self Driving Mode” and “Enhanced Autopilot”. However, Tesla has decided that Alec “did not pay” for the features and has therefore remotely disabled them; preventing him from using either. Even the dealer was unaware of this, as Tesla had conducted what it calls a ‘software audit’ of the car after selling it and disabled the advanced features in a December ‘update’.

Not best pleased, Alec naturally contacted Tesla’s customer support service and received the following statement: ‘Tesla has recently identified instances of customers being incorrectly configured for Autopilot versions that they did not pay for. Since, there was an audit done to correct these instances. Your vehicle is one of the vehicles that was incorrectly configured for Autopilot. We looked back at your purchase history and unfortunately Full-Self Driving was not a feature that you had paid for. We apologise for the confusion. If you are still interested in having those additional features we can begin the process to purchase the upgrade’.

For a bit of perspective, the self-driving features Tesla refers to cost around $8,000. Alec purchased the car based on a advertisement that listed these as being included. The claim, then, that he didn’t purchase these features is a curious one.

‘Messing With Owners Heads’

In 2018, it was reported that the braking distance of the Model 3 was worse than Ford’s F-150. Elon Musk, Tesla’s CEO, acknowledged the fault and before long an over-the-air software update improved the Model 3’s braking distance by 19 feet. More recently, an update temporarily increased the range of cars in the vicinity of Hurricane Irma; the rationale being that this would make it easier for drivers to reach safety. This sort of technology has crept up on consumers and its ramifications are only just starting to be properly scrutinised and deliberated upon.

The delay in people taking note of the power of Tesla’s software updates is probably due to the fact that, in many cases, they’re incredibly positive; delivering popular new features to customers and making their cars ‘better’ without the need to visit a service centre. The problem is that, ultimately, Tesla can change your vehicle on a whim; and not always in ways customers want.

A scan of Tesla’s forums reveal a number of puzzled enquires. One driver, for instance, is convinced that his car has become “slower off of the mark” overnight. Explanations vary from claims that the poster has activated a ‘chill’ feature to conspiracy theories that Tesla is attempting to widen the gap between its cheapest and more expensive trims; many posters seem to have had similar experiences though.

Unanswered Questions

Tesla’s over-the-air updates raise all kinds of questions about ownership, property rights and proper business practices. Not too long ago, if you bought a car with four-wheel drive (or indeed any hardware upgrade) that was it; the feature was yours and it was there to stay; unless you paid to have it removed or swapped. You knew where you stood. Now, however, our cars are going to have an ongoing relationship with manufacturers that exists beyond the say of drivers themselves. After you’ve made your purchase, things can be added and removed on a whim; sometimes without any kind of opt-in or consultation.

These updates don’t just concern little nuances, either. They can affect the entire driving experience. But there’s another dimension to this, too. In most Tesla cars everything that’s required for advanced or premium features is already in the vehicle. When you pay for them, Tesla simply flicks a switch and they activate. Is this really ethical? Should software cost thousands, especially when it’s already ready to go? This is a wider industry trend and we find it in video games, apps and a host of other products and services. A product is released which is ‘feature complete’ but we have to pay extra to activate all of them.

The Bottom Line

Alec’s story is an unfortunate one. He legitimately purchased a vehicle based on how it was advertised. After he discovered that a number of claimed features weren’t present, he’s told by the car’s manufacturer that he hasn’t paid for them. Surely this dispute exists between Tesla and the third-party, not the law-abiding, well-intending consumer? More importantly, how much control should Tesla (or any automaker) have over our cars once we’ve purchased them? In addition, what rights do we, or should we, have in deciding what software updates are made and when?

This is the flip side of over-the-air updates. Businesses can subtract as well as they can add. This means, at least in some cases, more power for them and less for consumers.

Jaguar I-Pace To Receive FREE Range Boost And ‘Over-Air’ Software –

Data Without Telematics: What You Need To Know –

With over 16,000 approved garages, a 24/7 support service and a host of cost-saving offers, Autoserve can keep your car moving smoothly. For any further questions please call Autoserve on 0121 521 3500.

Toyota's Lexus Brand Sales Have Surged Globally...

Toyota’s Lexus Brand Sales Have Surged Globally…

Toyota’s luxury brand Lexus made double-digit sales gains last year, making its 30th year anniversary with a surge in Europe and China…

Lexus’ 2019 Sales Surge

2019 was a good year for Toyota’s Lexus brand, with it making double-digit sales gains around the world. The brand, which made its debut in 1989, grew by 10% and sold 765,330 units. This was driven by the RX SUV and UX subcompact crossover. In China, sales rose by an impressive 25% to 202,000 vehicles. The European market (including Russia) grew by 14% to 87,000 vehicles. Demand in America, however, has stalled. Toyota says sales there were “level with prior year”.

Lexus’ shift towards smaller cars and hybrid technology has made the brand popular in China and Europe; where demand for ‘cleaner’ and more fuel-efficient vehicles is increasingly pronounced. In America though, an aging model lineup has been a cause for lost momentum. For consumers there, ‘bigger is better’ stubbornly remains the mantra.

A Global Brand

Toyota has worked hard to render Lexus a truly global brand. Growth has been sluggish for years but, at long last, it seems to be making headway in key markets. Spokesmen for the company have reiterated that they haven’t given up on the United States. After all, Toyota once dominated it. It hopes to regain lost territory with new and updated models. They can’t come soon enough. Sales feel by 0.1% last year to 298,114 vehicles. This means the brand has been in a steady state of decline since 2013.

Nevertheless, Toyota has reason to be pleased. With 10 million annual Lexus sales under its belt, it’s way ahead of Infiniti’s and Acura’s worldwide totals of 2.6 million and 5.4 million, respectively. Still, it’s got a very long way to go until it can reach the levels of BMW, Mercedes and Audi. Whether a Japanese manufacturer will ever be able to take on a German equivalent when it comes to luxury cars remains to be seen. Still, it’ll wouldn’t be unwelcome. Lexus has developed a reputation for precision engineering and elegant design. They’re ‘good’ cars, just ask customers in China and Europe…

Toyota’s $500 Million Investment In Uber Demonstrates Faith In The Inevitability Of Driverless Cars –

Rolls-Royce: How Personalisation Options Are Causing Profits To Soar –

With over 16,000 approved garages, a 24/7 support service and a host of cost-saving offers, Autoserve can keep your car moving smoothly. For any further questions please call Autoserve on 0121 521 3500.