I’d come to St. Louis to be Miller and Valasek’s digital crash-test dummy, a willing subject on whom they could test the car-hacking research they’d been doing over the past year. The result of their work was a hacking technique—what the security industry calls a zero-day exploit—that can target Jeep Cherokees and give the attacker wireless control, via the Internet, to any of thousands of vehicles. Their code is an automaker’s nightmare: software that lets hackers send commands through the Jeep’s entertainment system to its dashboard functions, steering, brakes, and transmission, all from a laptop that may be across the country.
General Motors has chutzpah, that’s for sure. Its Chevrolet division, that hidebound, prat-falling purveyor of contemporary civilization’s most inexcusable and outdated “consumer” product, dares to use “Find New Roads” as its main marketing slogan.
Now, GMC is preparing to sell its pick-up trucks to suburbanites by suggesting how handy they might be for facilitating the use of the exact, supremely rational and even sublime machine killed off by cars-first transportation: the bicycle!
Pitching its “premium mid-size truck,” GM says its “2015 GMC Canyon Carves a New Path” by means of “[c]ustomer-focused technologies” that “complement active lifestyles.” Here is a picture of GM fluffers getting ready to show such “lifestyle-supporting accessories” to the professional mouthpieces journalists at the 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show:
GM is even bold enough to admit that “not everyone needs full-size capability.” Yes, not everyone.
Actual use of Tesla’s $90,000 jalopy has apparently changed Consumer Reports‘ views. Per Automotive News:
Consumer Reports, which last year gave top marks to electric carmaker Tesla Motors Inc.’s Model S sedan, now says the car it owns has had “more than its share of problems.”
Consumer Reports, which anonymously buys the vehicles it tests from auto dealerships, said Monday the Model S it owns now has traveled nearly 16,000 miles. Its 2013 Model S was purchased for $89,650 in January of that year.
“Just before the car went in for its annual service, at a little over 12,000 miles, the center screen went blank, eliminating access to just about every function of the car,” the magazine said in its statement.
Tesla fixed the issues on the magazine’s Model S under warranty. The repairs included a “hard reset” to restore the car’s functions after its center screen went blank and problems with the automatic retracting door handles, which were occasionally reluctant to emerge.
CR isn’t the only one:
The issues highlighted by Consumer Reports follow a report by Edmunds.com, an automotive data and pricing company in Santa Monica, Calif. It reported problems last month with its Model S that included replacing the main battery pack after incidents in which the car stalled; a frozen touchscreen; a creaky steering wheel and difficulties opening the car’s sunroof.
As always, Elon Musk responds to these reports like the petulant six-year-old who just broke the family lamp:
Tesla CEO Elon Musk said last month the company continues to review customer reports to ensure all known flaws with the car are fixed.
“We definitely had some quality issues in the beginning for the early serial number cars, because we were just basically figuring out how to make the Model S. I think we’ve addressed almost all of those for current production cars,” Musk told analysts on a July 31 conference call. “Every week I have a product excellence meeting which is a cross-functional group, so we’ve got engineering, service and production and we go over all the issues that customers are reporting with the car and the action items that have to be addressed to get the car ultimately to the platonic ideal of the perfect car.”
DbC hereby proposes a new National Museum of Late-Capitalist Insanities. The NMLCI will be dedicated to the collection, preservation, and display of items and ideas characteristic of our epoch, with an eye to allowing a) the presently sane, b) future generations, and/or c) future extraterrestrial archaeologists to contemplate just how far out of touch our overclass and our culture have become.
Given the massive irrationality yet absolute political-economic centrality of the effort to perpetuate cars-first transportation in the face of obvious, directly associated impending disasters, there could be no better first NMLCI exhibit than the object at right, the 1,200-pound, “safe as possible,” 3-d “printed” Urbee car.
The rank pipedreams preserved in this pet project of Canadian engineer-capitalist Jim Kor are truly NMCLI-worthy:
For starters, the sales slogan is “Urbee: The Natural Way to Drive.” What could possibly be more un-natural than using immensely intricate and wasteful, 95% idle machines to accomplish mundane intra-village locomotion?
The rest of the proposal is about ecological conservation. Once again, what could possibly be more ecologically idiotic than using immensely intricate and wasteful, 95% idle machines to accomplish mundane intra-village locomotion? Without even mentioning fuel and manufacturing issues, you can get 40 bicycles for 1,200 pounds of final mass, and bicycles are orders of magnitude simpler and easier to repair and preserve.
As for “safe as possible,” who wants to ride in this glorified golf cart with moped wheels on American roads, around all these SUVs and delivery trucks? Hands?
The fact that such elementary realities are missed by an engineer speaks tomes about the prevalence of magical thinking in our doddering profit-driven social order.