Thanks to "consent" buried deep in sales agreements, car manufacturers are tracking tens of millions of US cars

Millions of new cars sold in the US and Europe are "connected," having some mechanism for exchanging data with their manufacturers after the cars are sold; these cars stream or batch-upload location data and other telemetry to their manufacturers, who argue that they are allowed to do virtually anything they want with this data, thanks to the "explicit consent" of the car owners -- who signed a lengthy contract at purchase time that contained a vague and misleading clause deep in its fine-print. Read the rest

This is what happens when you fill a car's gas tank with Coke

I have never once asked myself what would happen to my vehicle if I poured liters of Coca-Cola into its tank. But YouTuber TechRax did. Watch as he fills his 2003 BMW 325i wagon with Coke and then drives it. I have no words. (The Fresh Toast) Read the rest

California's record poverty and real-estate bubble are creating a "wheel-estate" boom of people with good jobs living in their cars

Extreme housing prices in California -- driven by a combination of speculation, favorable legal/tax positions for landlords, foreclosures after the 2008 crisis, and an unwillingness to build public housing -- has created vast homeless encampments, but there's a less visible side to the crisis: working people in "good jobs" who have to live in their cars. Read the rest

German VW exec is going to US prison for seven years for his role in Dieselgate

Oliver Schmidt, the general manager of Volkswagen's Michigan environmental and engineering office, is going to jail for his role in Dieselgate, the company's criminal conspiracy to trick regulators about the emissions from their diesel cars, allowing them to emit lethal levels of NOx on roads all over the world. Read the rest

Hackers can force airbags to deploy

Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures number 2017-14937: in unspecified post-2014 passenger car models, the explosive charge that deploys the airbag is controlled by an instruction that is secured by one of only 256 keypairs, and there is no rate-limit on authentication attempts over the CAN bus. It gets better! "In addition, at least one manufacturer's interpretation of the ISO 26021 standard is that it must be possible to calculate the key directly (i.e., the other 255 key pairs must not be used)." Read the rest

Russian van comes with Tetris built into the dashboard

Some models of Russian GAZelle Next commercial vans and trucks have Tetris integrated into the instrument cluster as an Easter egg. Here's the Google translation of the YouTube poster's instructions of how to bring up the game:

1) Turning the ignition on 2) Start a car 3) Three times the right turn signal 4) Two times distant 5) Five times on the clutch 6) raise the speed to 2000 and at that moment we light the arrow to the left

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Defect in Subaru keyless entry system makes it trivial to sniff and clone your car-keys

Subaru's wireless keyless entry protocol uses a system of "rolling codes" that jump from one value to another in a way that is supposed to be impossible to predict without possession of a cryptographic secret, shared by both the keys and the cars' firmware. Read the rest

On the road with America's post-homed nomads

Housing costs Americans more than at any time in history, and it's only getting worse as foreclosures open the door to market-cornering by inconceivably vast hedge funds who buy all those "distressed properties" and turn then into bond-coupon factories where the rent ratchets higher and higher, well ahead of inflation, wages, or affordability. Read the rest

Tesla's demon-haunted cars in Irma's path get a temporary battery-life boost

Tesla sells both 60kWh and 75kWh versions of its Model S and Model X cars; but these cars have identical batteries -- the 60kWh version runs software that simply misreports the capacity of the battery to the charging apparatus and the car's owner. Read the rest

Calgary airport regrets converting disabled parking spaces into "Lexus only" parking spaces

The Calgary airport authority has apologised for a botched marketing campaign in which it sold Lexus on the idea of designating some of its parking places as "Lexus only" and then, unbeknownst to the car company, used disabled parking spots for the purpose (presumably, they were luxuriously spacious). Read the rest

Desperate Nissan goes on an all-out dirty anti-union blitz in Mississippi

The workers at the Nissan plant in Canton, Mississippi are attempting to organize under the United Auto Workers, but Nissan is fighting the "nastiest anti-union campaign" in modern history, breaking the law so egregiously that even Trump's National Labor Relations Board has filed a series of complaints against the company. Read the rest

Britain's preferred car-loans are incomprehensible financialized garbage: what could go wrong?

Thinking of buying a car in the UK? Good news! You can get a personal contract purchase (PCP) and it will cost you less to buy a new Merc than it would to buy a used Ford Focus. Read the rest

Audi's top-of-the-line models implicated in Dieselgate

The hits keep on coming for Volkswagen, whose crimes have not yet been fully detailed, it seems. The EPA discovered Dieselgate emissions-cheating software in 2015, and then a German team found more in 2016, and now, a year later, the German Transport Ministry is recalling 24,000 Audi A7 and A8s for the same reason. Read the rest

Chess set made from car parts

It started when an anonymous Imgur user found an "old Integra cylinder head laying around the shop, collecting dust," which they "dis-assembled and decided to put it to use again." Read the rest

How iPhones helped Elon Musk crush Detroit

Way back in 2011, major American automakers were slow to realize that "companies in Silicon Valley have for some time been looking at cars just like another mobile device or app." When the disruption, hit, it hit hard, writes Nick Bilton: Read the rest

Securing driverless taxis is going to be really, really hard

Charlie Miller made headlines in 2015 as part of the team that showed it was possible to remote-drive a Jeep Cherokee over the internet, triggering a 1.4 million vehicle recall; now, he's just quit a job at Uber where he was working on security for future self-driving taxis, and he's not optimistic about the future of this important task. Read the rest

The self-driving cars wars have triggered vicious shenanigans over top engineering talent

With companies like Uber betting billions on self-driving cars, amid competition from Apple, Google, Tesla and the major automakers, the shortage of qualified engineers is sparking vicious legal battles. Read the rest

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