VW ready to takeover from Tesla

❝ Volkswagen AG is about to find out whether consumers will back its 30 billion-euro ($34 billion) strategy to topple Tesla Inc. as the electric-car leader.

❝ The German auto giant is now taking 1,000-euro deposits to secure one of the first in a new range of battery-powered models. The new ID.3 hatchback — which VW hopes will be the electric-car successor to the iconic Beetle — will start at less than 30,000 euros, roughly the same level as the diesel variant of its best-selling Golf hatchback.

We are not playing,” VW sales chief Juergen Stackmann said at an event in Berlin launching the reservation program. “This is the car to beat for the future, for all our competitors…”

❝ In a sign of its growing marketing rivalry, Tesla sent an email to prospective German customers on Wednesday, trumpeting its Model S and Model X as having the best range of electric cars in series production. Volkswagen is slated to start mass assembly of the ID.3 late this year, with the first deliveries in mid-2020…

VW opened up orders for their 1st production all-electric car going into the weekend. They received orders for over 10,000 cars in the first 24 hours.

When English isn’t your first language…

A dealership in Rochester, NY had a brand-new, German-built Volkswagen arrive for its pre-sales inspection, and with it came a little message. A message that wasn’t exactly grammatically correct, but the meaning behind it was unmistakable. The message? “Welcome Fuck of USA.”

I’m pretty sure the message-enterer wanted to say “Fuck off USA” instead of “Fuck of USA,” but I think we get the gist either way…I’m pretty sure this message will be changed before any potential customers get a chance to even look at the car.

Unless it’s not the only one.

Har.

Computer scientists expose security flaw suppressed by Volkswagen

A major security flaw in more than 100 car models has been exposed in an academic paper that was suppressed by a major manufacturer for two years.

Flavio Garcia, a computer scientist at the University of Birmingham, and two colleagues from a Dutch university were unable to release the paper after Volkswagen won a case in the high court to ban its publication.

The research team discovered car manufacturers including Audi, Citroën, Fiat, Honda and Volvo, as well as Volkswagen, had models that were vulnerable to “keyless theft” because a device designed to prevent the vehicles from being stolen could be disabled easily.

After years of formal and informal negotiations, Volkswagen has agreed to the publication of the paper after accepting the authors’ proposal to remove one sentence from the original manuscript.

Garcia and his colleagues Roel Verdult and Bariş Ege, from Radboud University in Nijmegen, said they found several weaknesses in the Swiss-made immobiliser system, called Megamos Crypto. The device works by preventing the engine from starting when the corresponding transponder – embedded in the key – is not present.

But the researchers showed it was possible to listen to signals sent between the security system and key, making the vehicles vulnerable to “close-range wireless communication” attacks

The RAC said electronic security systems have improved car security as vehicle theft has fallen 70% in 40 years. However, the overall decrease hides a rise in electronic hacking of vehicles, which featured in four out of 10 car thefts in London last year.

The point of any hack like this is lies with manufacturers revising their security. Sounds like VW was more interested in trying to keep the hack quiet instead of a fix.

Don’t fear that killer Volkswagen robot

Headlines rang out across the internet…that a robot killed someone in Germany. Beneath the sensationalist surface, there was a tragic truth: an industrial robot at a Volkswagen plant in Germany had indeed killed a 22-year-old worker who was setting it up. Coverage notwithstanding, this didn’t seem like the start of a machine-led apocalypse–I wanted a second opinion before heading to my backyard bunker. Ryan Calo is a law professor at the University of Washington, and he’s published academic works on our coming robot future, and the interaction between robots and cyberlaw.

Here are some of the questions…paired with his responses:

Popular Science: Yesterday Twitter was all abuzz about an industrial robot killing someone. You said at the time “this is relatively common.” What did you mean by that?

Ryan Calo: In the United States alone, about one person per year is killed by an industrial robot. The Department of Labor keeps a log of such events with titles like “Employee Is Killed When Crushed By Robot” (2006) or “Employee Was Killed By Industrial Robots” (2004).

You’ve written before about the potential for unique errors from autonomous machines. In future “robot kills man” stories, what characteristics should we look out for that make something go from “industrial accident” to “error with autonomy”?

Right. Industrial robots tend to do the same thing again and again, like grabbing and moving, and cannot generally tell what it is they are working with. That’s why factories establish “danger” or “kill” zones that people have to stay out of while the robot is operating…

Initial reports attribute the death to human error. At what point do you think having a human “in the loop” for an autonomous system constitutes a liability, instead of a safety feature?

In industrial robotics, that ship has long sailed. You couldn’t have a person in the loop and maintain anything like today’s productivity. Rather, you have to try to make sure — through protocols, warnings, etc. — that people stay out of the robot’s way

RTFA for more of the same sensible discussion guaranteed never to make it into your local newspaper.

BTW, Professor Calo says he wouldn’t guarantee that Atherton’s questions weren’t being answered by a robot. 🙂

Here’s another smartly-designed Euro car that gets 125 mpg we’ll probably never get to buy in the United States

We first saw Volkswagen’s plug-in petrol-electric hybrid Cross Coupé concept at the Tokyo Motor Show. Now there’s a new Cross Coupé concept to be shown at the Geneva Motor Show this week that use a turbodiesel direct injection engine (TDI) and two electric motors to achieve 1.8 liters per 100 km (around 125 usmpg) with CO2 emissions of just 46 g/km.

The Cross Coupé is proof that achieving 125 mpg is not just the realm of asthmatic shopping trolleys as the 225 kW Cross Coupe has a top speed of 137 mph and a curb weight of 4,096 lb.

The article is from the UK so it notes over 150 mpg. Those are imperial gallons and I’ve converted it to US gallons.

Unfortunately, everyone who builds diesel anything still suffers from the few years that GM offered cars with the worst diesel engines ever made in the history of motor vehicles. They leaked, smoked and drove like crap. German manufacturers have slowly overcome the lousy history – and still only bring in a fraction of the diesel power they’re capable of, that demand requests.

Yes, they sell out everything they offer – but, like everyone else – they don’t have a boatload of confidence in American consumers figuring out the difference.

Shanghai Motor Show threatens to make New York redundant

It wasn’t all that long ago that the Shanghai Convention Center was little more than a rice paddy, but this week, the sprawling facility will play host to what has rapidly become one of the world’s most important auto shows.

By a quirk of the calendar, this year’s big Chinese car show not only overlaps but threatens to overwhelm the New York Auto Show and its ability to garner valuable media time – a development that echoes the rapidly transformation occurring in the global automotive business.

Michael Dunne, the founder of Automotive Resources Asia – today a part of J.D. Power and Associates – recalls his first trip to China, barely two decades ago, when the roads were ruled by bicycles, motorbikes and buses, and the sight of an automobile was enough to draw everyone’s attention. Today, the most populous nation on Earth is also the biggest automotive market, having surpassed the U.S. two years ago, never to look back.

There will be a number of major launches that might have, until now, been steered to New York. Yet few could have anticipated that boom…Even as recently as 2007, skeptics wondered just how much more growth the Chinese car market could support. But that year was a milestone for a number of reasons. One that many initially missed was the decision by several major Western automakers to stage significant global previews at the Shanghai Motor Show for the first time. That included the debut of the BMW CS Concept car – which would only eventually return to the U.S. and a domestic preview at New York’s Jacob Javits convention center…

Few will downplay the significance of the 2011 Shanghai Motor Show. By one estimate, as many as 100 different electric vehicles will be displayed by the scores of manufacturers participating in the event. That’s no surprise considering the Beijing government’s increasing emphasis on battery power to help it overcome the country’s endemic pollution problems – and to reduce the Chinese dependence upon foreign oil…

But there’s no question that the days when the U.S. and Europe dominated the auto show circuit are over – much as the old, industrialized markets are no longer the drivers of automotive sales growth.

For Americans there even was a time back in the day when the European auto shows were meaningless. Volkwagen and Volvo changed that forever. The last people to respond were the Detroit Big 3.

This time around give credit where credit is due. Detroit iron – especially General Motors – were quick to respond and even quicker to profit from demand in China that still looks to the United States for economic guidance. Recognizing the difference between what’s good and what’s bad – but, not rejecting the knowledge from either.