Find personal data from your old car on eBay

[An amateur] researcher, who described himself as a “Tesla tinkerer that’s curious about how things work,” recently gained access to 13 Tesla MCUs — short for media control units — that were removed from electric vehicles during repairs and refurbishments. Each one of the devices stored a trove of sensitive information despite being retired. Examples included phone books from connected cell phones, call logs containing hundreds of entries, recent calendar entries, Spotify and W-Fi passwords stored in plaintext, locations for home, work, and all places navigated to, and session cookies that allowed access to Netflix and YouTube (and attached Gmail accounts)…

“It looks like some service center employees sell intact units on the side instead of returning them…the researcher said in an interview. “I know some people running salvage yards that say that’s one source of units they have for sale.”…

[His] discovery reveals a risk posed not just to Tesla owners but drivers of virtually any vehicle that has onboard devices that store personal data or provide remote tracking. A man who rented Ford vehicles from Enterprise Rent-a-Car reported having the ability to remotely start, stop, lock, and unlock the vehicles long after he returned them not just once, but a second time four months after the first. As is the case with Tesla MCUs that make it back onto the market, the failure of rental companies to mandate that employees fully wipe infotainment systems of all previous customers’ data represents a safety and privacy risk that could easily be avoided.

I know you can’t selectively destroy recording systems in a car you’re selling or trading-in; but, at a minimum you should do a factory reset. I’m not a fanatic about privacy (yet); but, I see no reason to skip utilizing the procedures built-in to maintain some level of security.

Wall St worries about broken glass, BladeRunner Tesla pickup truck

❝ Tesla’s…launch of its futuristic Cybertruck pickup suffered a setback when its “armored glass” windows shattered, but it was the overall look of the electric vehicle that worried Wall Street on Friday, driving the automaker’s shares down 6%.

In the much-anticipated unveiling to cheering fans late on Thursday, Tesla boss Elon Musk had taken aim at the design, power and durability of mainstream trucks, only to be shaken when his boast about his new vehicle’s windows backfired…

❝ Some Wall Street analysts praised the launch on Friday, but others doubted the futuristic design’s mass appeal…“Musk has been enthusiastic about his Blade Runner-inspired design for months, but we were still surprised how futuristic he went with this one and believe it may shatter his dreams,” Cowen analysts wrote…

“While we are pleased to see Tesla enter the most profitable segment of the North American passenger car market, we do not see this vehicle in its current form being a success.”

The comparison to Blade Runner is apt, appropriately futuristic. Our household liked Blade Runner for more than the cultural politics. Same goes for the Tesla pickup. Quoting “car guys” who hate the look is like Road & Track mag’s hatred of modern racing-level automatic transmissions. Which keep on winning all the important races on traditional courses.

The comparison with Fords is also appropriate. They usually lead the pack though Rams received the same rap when introduced in 1994…and ended up often challenging and beating Ford sales. My ’94 Ram has had only 1 major repair in 25 years – tranny replacement – and the speedo quit several years ago at 211,000 miles.

Most interesting engineering comment came from an engineer with specialized glass qualifications…who learned Tesla bounced the 1kg steel ball off the windows 5 times the day before. He felt they never considered cumulative microfractures and should have done the demo with unimpacted glass.

Estimate of pre-orders by the end of the evening was 200,000.

Coppers adopting TESLA Model 3

❝ The Bargersville, Indiana, Police Department is updating its fleet to Tesla Model 3s after they figured out that they will save a lot of money on gas, and that the Tesla Model 3s don’t compromise performance compared to the Dodge Chargers…

❝ The Luxembourg Police converted two Model S sedans to patrol cars, and the largest fleet of Tesla police patrol vehicles is in Switzerland…

❝ As for cost, Model 3 is the clear winner. The Standard Range Plus version that they bought is a little more expensive at ~$41,000, but they expect gas savings of about $6,000 per year, which means that the Model 3 will almost pay for itself over its lifetime (they expect six years as a police vehicle).

And here’s another one of those changes resulting from our recent Great Recession. People realized they didn’t need a new car as often as previous. Lots of folks bought new cars as things got better into the Obama years. Then slooowed way down below new purchase cycles of earlier generations.

VW, BMW, Ford to build charging network as part of the growing matrix of electric vehicles

❝ Ford Motor, Volkswagen Group, BMW Group and Daimler today said they plan to set up charging stations for electric vehicles along major highways in Europe. The move will be an important step toward facilitating the mass-market adoption of EVs, the companies said in a joint statement.

❝ The companies have signed an initial agreement to create the charging network in what they said is an “unprecedented collaboration.” The goal is to quickly build up a sizable number of stations in order to enable long-range travel for battery electric vehicle drivers.

The projected ultra-fast high-powered charging network with power levels up to 350 kW will be significantly faster than the most powerful charging system deployed today…

The buildup is planned to start in 2017. An initial target of about 400 sites in Europe is planned. By 2020 the customers should have access to thousands of high-powered charging points…”The charging experience is expected to evolve to be as convenient as refueling at conventional gas stations,” the automakers said.

❝ The network will be based on Combined Charging System standard technology. The planned charging infrastructure expands the existing technical standard for AC and DC charging of electric vehicles to a higher level of DC fast-charging capacity with up to 350 kilowatts. EVs engineered to accept 350 kW of power will be able to recharge in a fraction of the time as today’s EVs.

Here it comes. The historic auto truism hasn’t changed. Just about every advance in the auto craft starts in Europe.

Pentagon testing Toyota, Ford, trucks for warfare


Pentagon will figure out how to make these cost $300K

No other country in the world spends $600 billion on its military. The Pentagon, giant hub of the most advanced and most expensive war-fighting apparatus ever known, spends a lot of money on new, advanced, and expensive vehicles, from stealth fighters to stealth bombers to bomb-resistant troop carriers to aircraft carriers. Yet what if there was a versatile, flexible weapon of war, used the world over, that combines discretion with horsepower?

Technically, there is, and U.S. Special Operations Command is about to test them out.

SOCOM is ordering Toyota and Ford SUVs and trucks, with options to improve their armor and add-on other features that turn the civilian vehicles into covert military machines. Known collectively as “technicals,” civilian vehicles converted for war use are so common there’s even a Twitter account documenting them under the name “Toyota Wars.”

SOCOM’s current deal is with Ohio’s Battelle Memorial Institute to modify up to “556 vehicles — 396 armored and 160 unarmored” over five years, according to Military Aerospace, for a total payout of up to $170 million. At roughly $300,000 apiece, that makes the vehicles about half the cost of the heavy, IED-resistant MRAP troop carriers sent to Iraq and Afghanistan. Unlike MRAPs, however, converted trucks have one modest edge: until the shooting starts, they don’t stand out as explicitly military vehicles, which is an advantage special operations forces are likely to use to their advantage.

Leave it to the GOUSA to figure out how to make something terrorists build for peanuts cost more than middle class housing. Small nations – and not-so-small nations roll these things out for less than six figure$ all the time.

But, Uncle Sugar has to come up with designs that suit the number one priority of our military-industrial complex: Big Profits!

Jordan’s Desert Iris – In production for a decade-and-a-half

Ford F-150 reports for police duty

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Click to enlarge

Having launched police versions of its Taurus and Explorer, Ford has taken America’s best selling truck and given it the police treatment, too. The F-150 Special Service Vehicle takes a regular Ford truck and strips it out to handle all the donuts and coffees America’s police officers can throw at it. Oh, and we’re sure it’ll be able to deal with criminals, too.

Because of the extra on-board equipment police and government agencies need to run, the first change Ford has made to the F-150 is a 240 volt high-power alternator. There’s also easy wash rear seats, just in case your nightly patrol turns messy and the vinyl needs to be hosed out…

…Missing are the 2.7-liter EcoBoost and non EcoBoost V6 options…The 5.0-liter V8 and all-wheel drive can still be had, though. There is also a semi-skim 3.5-liter EcoBoost motor available, as well as two-wheel drive.

Plenty of rural coppers are better served by pickups instead of SUVs. The halo effect of an F-150 on police sales is obvious. Though the opposite route seems to be happening — the addition of a Taurus Interceptor surely seems to be increasing sales of the civilian version in my neck of the prairie.

China’s environmental goals are reshaping global car design


BMW I3 electric testing by the LAPD

For global automakers, China is becoming the new California.

The U.S. state grabbed the lead a few years ago in establishing fuel-efficiency standards to clean up urban smog. Now, as China struggles with its air-pollution crisis, Beijing increasingly influences the models and technology Detroit, Europe and Japan sell around the world.

In response to government rules and incentives that have spurred electric-car sales in China, automakers are beefing up their global electric-vehicle and plug-in offerings. General Motors Co. plans to make a plug-in hybrid version of every Cadillac model. Ford Motor Co. has budgeted $4.5 billion to develop 13 new EVs and plug-in hybrids by 2020, and China is a big reason for both automakers. Daimler AG’s Mercedes-Benz is selling five plug-ins in China, two of which also sell in the U.S. Similarly, BMW AG is engineering plug-in hybrids it sells worldwide to meet China’s electric-drive mandates.

❝“Originally we started with California rules, so the starting point for us was clearly the U.S.,” said Klaus Froehlich, BMW’s global head of product development. “Now, China is a key market. It is very important and the regulations are quite difficult.”

Decisions made in Beijing already are affecting cars people drive in Dallas and Los Angeles. That’s because automakers tend to design new models to sell in multiple regions — and China is the world’s largest auto market…

Even gasoline engines are getting a global tweak to meet Chinese fuel-efficiency standards: Cadillac specifically designed the most powerful engine in its CT6 sedan, a twin-turbo 3 liter, to avoid stiff Chinese taxes on any engine over 3 liters…

While China wants to boost sales and become a key destination for global automakers to sell new models, it also wants cleaner air. So it now requires that agency- and government-owned companies’ fleets consist of at least 30 percent plug-in hybrids or electric cars. If they don’t comply, they risk losing important subsidies for utilities such as electricity and water. The subsidies can be the difference between profit and loss, said Michael Dunne, president of Dunne Automotive…

The country already sells far more electric-car models than the U.S., with 30 available now. That will rise to 80 by 2020, though many of them will come from China’s small domestic producers, according to IHS Automotive. The U.S. has just a handful of models now; 44 will be available in 2020…

“The Chinese government will do whatever is possible to make people feel comfortable with EVs,” Dunne said.

The American government will do whatever is possible to make people feel comfortable with lots of guns.

Aside from my cynicism, the article makes me pleased that an alternative to the short-range stupidity of the American market exists. Like anyone concerned with environmental issues I get to stand back in awe of the blank brains of my fellow citizens who look ahead at a couple years of lowered gasoline prices and rush right out to buy the biggest SUV on the block.

No thought about environmental impact. No consideration for what cars add to the sum of a deteriorating climate. Not even a trace of reflection about what it will cost to feed and maintain the beast when oil prices get back up to the “standards” fossil fuel barons from Saudi Arabia to Texas require to support their own addictions.

Previous fallbacks existed in a vacuum. Now the world’s economics are shifting and Uncle Sugar no longer is the only game in town. Manufacturers who want to be profitable on a global scale will have to design products for a global market.

Heinz and Ford research turning tomato scraps into car parts

It might seem that tomatoes and cars have nothing in common. But researchers at Ford Motor Company and H.J. Heinz Company see the possibility of an innovative union.

Researchers at Ford and Heinz are investigating the use of tomato fibers in developing sustainable, composite materials for use in vehicle manufacturing. Specifically, dried tomato skins could become the wiring brackets in a Ford vehicle or the storage bin a Ford customer uses to hold coins and other small objects…

Nearly two years ago, Ford began collaborating with Heinz, The Coca-Cola Company, Nike and Procter & Gamble to accelerate development of a 100 percent plant-based plastic to be used to make everything from fabric to packaging and with a lower environmental impact than petroleum-based packaging materials currently in use.

At Heinz, researchers were looking for innovative ways to recycle and repurpose peels, stems and seeds from the more than two million tons of tomatoes the company uses annually to produce its best-selling product: Heinz Ketchup. Leaders at Heinz turned to Ford…

…In recent years, Ford has increased its use of recycled nonmetal and bio-based materials. With cellulose fiber-reinforced console components and rice hull-filled electrical cowl brackets introduced in the last year, Ford’s bio-based portfolio now includes eight materials in production. Other examples are coconut-based composite materials, recycled cotton material for carpeting and seat fabrics, and soy foam seat cushions and head restraints.

Someday we may be able to scrounge our way through a junkyard – and make pizza.

Now, what part of a car can we make from anchovies?

Ford and Coca-Cola team up to make renewable fabric for cars

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Click to see the show car

A refreshing research vehicle unveiled today by Ford in partnership with Coca-Cola that uses pop-bottle technology to make fabrics for automobiles.

Ford has outfitted a Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid vehicle with an interior of renewable fabrics developed using Coca-Cola’s PlantBottle technology, introduced in 2009 for plastic bottles. Up to 30% of the normally petroleum-based materials are replaced with plant-based materials.

The research car, which will be on display at the Los Angeles auto show that opens to the media next week, uses the new fabric in the seat cushions, backs and head restraint as well as the headliner and door panel.

This is the first use of PlantBottle outside of pop bottles and stems from a collaboration announced in June 2012 for companies such as Ford, Coca-Cola, Heinz and Nike to work on plastic substitutes not based on fossil fuels. The goal is to find a substitute for PET, or polyethylene terephthalate, which is the plastic used in water bottles, fabrics and carpets.

Ford created a fiber that can be woven into automotive-grade PET fabric. The fabric has the same look and feel as the material it replaces. The automaker will test its durability for an undetermined time period before deciding whether it will go into production.

Ford says if the process were used in interior fabrics across much of its lineup, it would replace 4 million pounds of petroleum-derived materials and save the equivalent of 295,000 gallons of gasoline and 6,000 barrels of oil. It complements other efforts such as using soybeans for seat cushions.

Corporate efforts at designs aiding recycling are praiseworthy. Maybe some of it will rub off on the company creeps who only concern themselves with exploiting natural and human resources.