Is That New Swanky Car Really Ours?

Elon Musk and Tesla have been pioneers in introducing over-the-air upgrades to cars. Connectivity has a number of advantages. It enables manufacturers to deploy new software to cars that are already on the road, keeping them as technologically advanced as the cars that are now rolling off the production line.


It removes the requirement for owners to schedule an appointment with a local dealer to have an issue repaired or new software installed. OTA updates are often performed overnight when the vehicle is parked.

What could be more convenient?

The word “convenient” is a cunning devil. We now happily share our personal information with advertising, hackers, and government snoops in the name of ease. Our phones monitor us everywhere we go, and now our cars do as well.

Your car can be programmed to spy on you in order to establish you were there at a protest against the government or a crime scene. It might serve as the key prosecution witness against you in court.

Connectivity also has a far darker side. Manufacturers have concluded that while their customers own the wheels, seats, and windows in their new vehicles, they do not own the software that controls them.

The most recent incident may appear little, yet it is a portent of things to come. BMW is allowing consumers in South Korea to subscribe to activate seat warmers, heated steering wheels, and other options.

This has given rise to a new breed of hackers who, for a charge, would unlock software-restricted functions or remove limits that vehicle manufacturers may have set.

The concept of purchasing a car is becoming outdated. You buy a chassis, pay a loan for it, pay taxes and insurance on it, and repair it when it breaks.

However, you only obtain a license to use the software that runs it. The manufacturer retains ownership of the program and grants you permission to use it as long as you pay specified fees and do not breach any of the licensing restrictions.

Manufacturers have discovered that they can sell you a car and charge you extra for features that you thought you were receiving anyhow.

Reference- The Guardian, Inside EVs, Clean Tehcnica, EV Obsession, Jalopnik