Tesla Says No to Hackers

Tesla, an automotive company known for pioneering itself into the electric vehicle market, is putting its focus toward hackers. In recent events, Tesla has discovered that hackers are affecting the upper hand and monetary benefit it has with the “Acceleration Boost” for the Model 3 Dual Motor. In attempts to save face, Tesla is fighting back.

It is not unknown that Tesla offers upgrades with their electric cars in the form of software-locked abilities. For the Model 3 Dual Motor, this an “Acceleration Boost”. Starting off at $2,000, this upgrade offers an additional 50 horsepower while also taking off an extra half second when going to 0 to 60 mph.

With such benefits, it’s no surprise that it is a sought-after feature. However, no one expected there to be another option in installing this upgrade other than Tesla. That was until third party companies, particularly Ingenext, offered the upgrade. Coined as Ingenext Boost 50 module, the company offers it at the lower price of $1,433. This Boost 50 module includes other features that are specific to the company, like a “Drift mode”.

A number of Tesla consumers flocked to the cheaper option until Tesla decided to take a stance against the third-party companies. Now, whenever a consumer installs the third-party option, a pop-up screen will appear. On this screen, the dialog warns the consumer that the vehicle detects an incompatible vehicle modification. This screen does not restrict the driver from their current driving capabilities, but it can not be removed from the display.

Despite this pop-up tactic, third party companies like Ingenext still advertise its product. The Ingenext founder, Guillaume Andre, told the electric vehicle news outlet Eletrek that their update was only hindered by the newest Tesla software update 2020.32.1 and that they sent out a notification to clients not to update. Andre went further in saying that if a client did update, they shouldn’t worry. According to Andre, Ingenext is working on their own patch to help consumers enable the update without any problems.

Since Ingenext is not backing down, it is logical to question and ask: what will this mean for the update, Tesla, and Ingenext? So far, the answer is unknown. Yet, speculation is that this will start a technological war between both companies as they try to succeed in creating updates that stop the other. In such a time only one thing can be clear: Tesla says no to hackers.

Progress Toward the Future: Cars and AI

In the car industry, consumers and automotive companies alike are looking for the newest component to integrate into cars. A component that improves the experience for the customer, increases the value for the vehicle and relevantly addresses the concerns of the Coronavirus. That component today is AI or automated technology.

Automated technology has been incorporated into cars long before drivers were aware of it. Capabilities customers often take for granted, like cruise control and power windows, were the earliest examples of AI. In fact, the hand-free phone that is so common-place in vehicles today was already available back in 1988.

These obscure AI features lead to the most impressive capability to date: voice interface technology. Voice interface technology offered drivers less distractions and more time to keep their hands on the wheel. Due to these safety benefits, cars were the first mass market product to integrate the technology on a large-scale.

Since AI to date has only helped in the safety, value and convenience of both car and driver, how can it be applied to the current situation?

The Coronavirus has changed the way we buy and use transportation. According to Capgemini Research Institute, 75 percent of new car buyers are purchasing a car to get more control over their hygiene while 46 percent of consumer say they’ll use less public transportation and 40 percent of consumers say they’ll use less of ride-hailing services.

Fortunately, AI can address the concern for a safer, more hygienic ride. The answer comes through AI powered self-driving vehicles, or self-driving ride-sharing services. A self-driving system would ensure social distance and a relatively touch-free experience that drivers may find more to their liking. It could also save time that is required when manually driving a vehicle.

Although there are some self-driving capabilities in current vehicles, there is still a long way before things like public transportation can be forgotten. Manufacturers are just starting to progressively implement more AI into areas like IT; digital and mobility services; manufacturing and operations. Beyond that, manufacturers and consumers still must figure out what technology they agree is valuable. Manufacturers are likely to focus on AI features that assist with the mechanics of the vehicle while consumers are likely to focus on AI features that increase the luxury of the vehicle.

AI has been involved in the car industry ever since the introduction of itself back in the 1940s. Since then, AI has been impactful, improving multiple aspects of a vehicle such as the value, efficiency and customer satisfaction. It can even be said that it is the answer, once there is enough progress by car manufacturers, to safer travels in a post Coronavirus world.

The Data-Driven Approach to Your Favorite Cars

A multitude of data can be pulled from a vehicle analysis. Automakers hold millions of reports about produced cars that often encourage future automotive developments. If automakers choose not to analyze their collected information, they sacrifice opportunities for not only revenue but also increasing the safety and satisfaction of drivers.

Data-driven companies are popping up worldwide intending to enable​ new services for the industry. If Original Equipment Manufacturers chose to fulfill these tasks themselves, they would have to come up with their own AI machines to analyze data. Therefore, the companies are looking toward outside organizations to execute the research and tools for them.

Specifically, one machine learning startup that raised $11 million. Now the company will give insight to automakers about vehicles. The company plans to use artificial intelligence by way of machine learning.  Timing is an issue; to aid clients, companies need to face leveraging asynchronous time-series data. After all, gathering and analyzing this type of data is no simple task.

One interesting approach these companies are taking is instituting an assessment of estimated component failure risk. Therefore, before mass producing and releasing vehicles, companies can gauge the likelihood of needed to issue a recall. This can save billions of dollars per year in production for automakers.  Additionally, vehicles now contain sensor updates that are sent to manufacturers. This data can now be leveraged.

After a quick analysis of ongoing reports, automakers can alter vehicles in the production process. This information allows for crucial changes to be made early on in the release of new models.  In the Auto industry, the data-driven approach has only just begun to make an impact; However, manufacturers, machine learning startups, and consumers will benefit from companies leaping toward the future of auto analysis.

Auto Plant Projects Are On The Rise

For more than a century, the auto industry has been no stranger to economic struggles and recessions. When the pandemic forced auto plant shutdowns and stalled production, none could foresee the economic impact the shutdowns would have on the industry months later. However, the industry currently shows an exemplary trajectory in the face of the ongoing pandemic.

Notably, several large-investment projects are advancing during the summer months. Industry leaders have walked a fine line for the past few months, balancing reopening production and ensuring the health of workers. The continuity of these large-investment projects signals optimism within the industry. Some of the projects began before the pandemic hit. Others are beginning throughout the summer to make an impact post-pandemic.

“The industry has been cautious for a while,” observed Bernard Swiecki, director of the Automotive Communities Partnership, an auto project-monitoring program associated with the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Mich. “A number of projects have been walked up to the point of making a final commitment, but then put into suspended animation. So there is a bit of pent-up investment just waiting to get a green light of confidence.

“But there are also a number of companies that just can’t wait for that green light,” he said. “They need to position themselves to gain maximum benefits when the recovery comes.”

As noted by Swiecki, many companies see the current pandemic as an opportune time to invest in the future. The companies can invest and capitalize on growth in a particular segment or hire additional workers to raise production levels at existing plants. With the full economic impact of the pandemic and its shutdowns still unknown, funding projects for the future may aid companies in the long-term.

The North American marketplace’s angle differs. Shutdowns gave factory workers much time off, but even their returns to work did not indicate optimism. Within one week of re-openings, auto plants were sending employees home due to cases of the virus emerging within factory walls. This has left millions of Americans without work.

Fortunately, though, industry leaders are confident in a vast revival of the auto industry following the pandemic. The last major recession of 2008-09 caught the auto industry with severe manufacturing overcapacity. Plants closed in 2009. “This time around, we’re much leaner, and manufacturers have even been straining to meet demand,” Swiecki said. “The industry sees this year’s crisis as not being permanent.

“And even where there is a cash shortage at a company, and an automaker can’t support everything in its plan, you’ll see projects that are related to trucks and SUVs receive priority. The last project you’re going to delay right now is a truck factory.”

Some projects remain full speed ahead.

  • Tesla Inc. said last month it will spend $1 billion to construct a pickup factory in Austin, Texas, a project that will require the electric vehicle maker to hire 2,000 people in the next 24 months. But the construction plan represents a major product initiative for Tesla: electric trucks. And there is little time to lose in that category, because competitors see the same gold that Tesla does. General Motors and Ford Motor Co. intend to produce electric pickups. So do startups Rivian and Nikola.
  • Mazda Motor Corp. and Toyota Motor Corp. are midstream in a project to build a $1.6 billion joint-venture assembly plant in Huntsville, Ala., announced in January 2018. Mazda badly needs to increase its portfolio of crossovers and has no U.S. capacity. And Toyota is capacity-constrained to meet its future North American growth forecasts.
  • Ultium Cells LLC is the 50-50 joint venture between GM and the global battery maker LG Chem. Construction of a $2 billion manufacturing center in Lordstown, Ohio, launched this summer. This plant, expected to employ about 1,000, is no mere production-capacity play. The batteries it will produce will be the cornerstone of a new electrified vehicle strategy for GM in the next three years.
  • SK Innovation, the South Korean EV battery maker, began construction last month on its second EV battery manufacturing facility in Jackson County, Ga., as it completes its first one at the site. The combined $1.67 billion project will allow SK to produce enough batteries for 310,000 EVs a year, with Volkswagen as it initial U.S. customer.
  • Nikola Corp. broke ground last month on a $600 million plant in Coolidge, Ariz., where it will produce zero-emission Class 8 semitrucks and create thousands of jobs, according to Coolidge Mayor Jon Thompson. Nikola is a startup that intends to build hydrogen fuel cell-powered commercial trucks for large fleet customers, as well as electric pickups.
  • Ford Motor Co. said at the end of last year that it will invest $750 million in and add 2,700 new direct jobs at its plant in Wayne, Mich., this year and next year. Ford is launching production of the all-new Bronco and Ranger and creating a vehicle modification center at the location.

Post-COVID Trends in the Auto Industry

In late 2019, when news of a rapidly spreading virus first surfaced, most failed to consider the long-term effects of the virus. Almost no one knew the severity of the virus and the fact that it would become a global pandemic and alter the future of the world. In the Auto Industry, factory shutdowns began around March. Jobs were lost and production slowed, but still, most people did not realize the extent to which the pandemic would change the industry. The following are notable trends within the auto industry that may actualize following the coronavirus pandemic.

Subscription Services Are on the Rise: A number of vehicle companies, such as BMW and Audi, offer subscriptions that allow drivers to switch between vehicles each year. Though not generally the most affordable option, consumers love car subscriptions because of the flexibility it offers and its inclusion of insurance and maintenance repairs. Subscriptions offer freedom to choose and a taste of luxury, no matter your location.

Vehicles Impacting Health:  New Health, Wellness, and Wellbeing  (HWW) features are being implemented in cars ​like ionizers and ozonizers that purify in-vehicle air. Self-cleaning features for car surfaces will also become commonplace.

Reinvented Styles: The hatchback could make a comeback. The 2020 VW Golf is sparking the trend of the style. If a pandemic has prompted anything, it’s a desire for change. Whether driven by the immobility of a pandemic or Gen Z’s style ideas, changes will occur.

Financial Differences Worldwide: The auto industry is recovering at different rates in different regions. Notably, the car industry grew in China in the months of April and May but declined in Europe and India.

Remote Work: Now that remote work has been attempted, many companies will choose to continue working remotely, despite where the pandemic’s numbers may lead. Workers who are no longer required to commute to work will decrease personal mileage tremendously, and if remote work remains prevalent, the decreased mileage could have not only individual but global effects. This trend could affect the future of the automotive industry. Sales would decline, and lower commuting miles will be felt in lower aftermarket sales.

Cars as a Marketplace: It is probable that everything related to on route mobility will take place in a car within the next few years. Soon, customers will be able to pay for tolls, refuel, and purchase services, all from the interior of their vehicles. This will largely transform cars from vehicles to lifestyles.

IoT Platforms: Operating systems will soon be standard for vehicles. Automotive producers will offer hundreds of options to customize car features. Connected cars will be dominant in the auto industry within high-end cars.

Shifting Online:  Online car sales have already started to shift, with cars readily available for rent and purchase through sites. The online method limits human interaction, one of the most valuable things currently.

Product Lifestyle to Grow: Car companies are selling more than just physical cars. The sale of new technological and stylistic features is certain. People want to customize as much as possible, and companies are looking to deliver that.

Used Cars Take the Stage: The used car market will have a strong rebirth. Auction prices for used cars are currently on the rise. Used car companies are even seeing increasing customer satisfaction rates.

COVID has certainly impacted the auto industry, but the future is not destined to be negative. Automakers are adapting to current times, and trends stemming from the pandemic are promising.