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Musk Lashes Back Over Tesla Fire Controversy 487

Posted by timothy
from the novelty-draws-detractors dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes "A small handful of Tesla electric cars have caught fire, driving down the company's stock price, and finally prompting CEO Elon Musk to tackle the issue in a new blog posting. 'Since the Model S went into production last year, there have been more than a quarter million gasoline car fires in the United States alone, resulting in over 400 deaths and approximately 1,200 serious injuries (extrapolating 2012 NFPA data),' he wrote in that posting. 'However, the three Model S fires, which only occurred after very high-speed collisions and caused no serious injuries or deaths, received more national headlines than all 250,000+ gasoline fires combined.' Responsible journalism on the matter, he added, has been 'drowned out' by 'an onslaught of popular and financial media seeking to make a sensation out of something that a simple Google search would reveal to be false.' According to his own figures, Tesla suffers an average of one fire per 6,333 cars, versus a rate of one fire per 1,350 gasoline-powered cars. Every Tesla vehicle includes internal walls between the battery modules, in addition to a firewall between the battery pack and the passenger compartment — enough shielding, in the event of a fire, to prevent pens and papers in the glove compartment from combusting. 'Despite multiple high-speed accidents, there have been no deaths or serious injuries in a Model S of any kind ever,' Musk continued. 'Of course, at some point, the law of large numbers dictates that this, too, will change, but the record is long enough already for us to be extremely proud of this achievement.' Tesla is about to push an 'over-the-air update' to its vehicles' air suspension that will create more ground clearance at highway speeds. In theory, that could reduce the chances of impact damage to the underbody, should the vehicle roll over an object — and that, in turn, could lower the chances of fire."
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Musk Lashes Back Over Tesla Fire Controversy

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    250K gasoline car fires, yes, but how many of those cars were 12 months old???

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Xicor (2738029)
      a huge number of them.
    • by Pumpkin Tuna (1033058) on Tuesday November 19, 2013 @11:34AM (#45464275)

      How many ran over heavy, jagged pieces of metal at highway speeds?

    • by Shark (78448) on Tuesday November 19, 2013 @11:47AM (#45464413)

      I have no special love for Tesla or Musk but I think I have to agree with him there. Looking at the facts, these fires are not a very big deal, especially given the age of the (mainstream) electric car market. Sure, efforts should be made to aleviate the issue but obviously, if an accident punctures a battery there's a chance of fire just as there is one if you puncture a gas tank.

      • by mlts (1038732) * on Tuesday November 19, 2013 @12:09PM (#45464679)

        It is just statistics. More Tesla cars on the roads, the higher the chance of one of them getting hit. This is just me, but I'm still pretty impressed by their crash record.

        The one thing I'm really curious about is how many Priuses catch fire in wrecks. Priuses tend to be the mainstream vehicle, in terms of popularity, with an EV subsystem, so they should be the standard of how much damage causes a fire or not.

      • by TWX (665546)

        ...but obviously, if an accident punctures a battery there's a chance of fire just as there is one if you puncture a gas tank.

        How likely is one to puncture the gas tank though, and how much risk of fire is there if the gas tank is ruptured, compared to if a battery is ruptured?

        Don't get me wrong, I really like the idea of electric vehicles and have mulled doing a conversion on my quarter-ton pickup, but I don't like the idea of high-centering on a foreign object causing a fire.

      • by DrXym (126579)
        I agree too, but at the same time there is a very useful saying - never buy version 1.0 of anything. And that applies especially to motor vehicles regardless of their mode of propulsion. They usually suffer recalls and that's just for the critical / safety related problems that the loss adjusters say can't wait. There must be a raft of lesser but still serious issues which either cannot be fixed or only get fixed if you bring the car in for a service. Raising the suspension in vehicles sounds like a kludge
      • ...but in a good way. If Musk's figures are correct, the headlines should be saying, "Gas-powered cars catch fire 4.7x more often than Teslas".

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Mr D from 63 (3395377)
      Curious....Here's a question I don't think we've asked yet. What percentage of car fires are intentional? I know for a fact it happens as an insurance recovery scheme, but have no clue as to how often.
      • The US Fire Administration collects detailed statistics. You can check out the latest report Here [fema.gov]

        There are 7% categorized as intentional, with an additional 10% as under investigation, which may have some convincing arsons.
  • People are bad (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SecurityTheatre (2427858) on Tuesday November 19, 2013 @11:33AM (#45464247)

    People are really bad at understanding statistics.

    The masses will believe that electric cars are dangerously subject to spontaneous burning as a result of this press coverage, despite the extraordinarily solid safety record of the Tesla cars.

    This is (to me) substantially similar to those people who frequently call violent crime a "growing problem" and probably comes from the same lazy, sensationalist reporters.

    • by Sarten-X (1102295) on Tuesday November 19, 2013 @11:36AM (#45464301) Homepage

      Violent crime is a growing problem.

      The perpetrators often have had problems growing to maturity as members of civilized society.

      • Re: (Score:2, Offtopic)

        by geekoid (135745)

        Wrong. Violent crimes has been decreasing for decades.
        Stop yammering on with the fear the media shoves down your throat.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crime_in_the_United_States [wikipedia.org]

        • by X0563511 (793323)

          Woosh. That was a pun, and you missed it completely.

        • by jalopezp (2622345)
          I am pretty sure the gp was being coy.
        • by cusco (717999) <brian...bixby@@@gmail...com> on Tuesday November 19, 2013 @02:10PM (#45466051)

          Can you hear the growing 'Woosh'?

    • Re:People are bad (Score:5, Informative)

      by janeuner (815461) on Tuesday November 19, 2013 @11:38AM (#45464323)

      Also people don't seek principle sources. An account from the owner of the third Tesla fire incident.

      http://www.teslamotors.com/blog/model-s-owner-tennessee [teslamotors.com] (I think this was on slashdot a couple weeks ago...)

      "This experience does not in any way make me think that the Tesla Model S is an unsafe car. I would buy another one in a heartbeat."

      I expect that the current NHTSA probe is going to end up a huge win for Tesla and Musk.

      • by geekoid (135745)

        A common person biased emotional driven narrative is worth nothing.

        • by maugle (1369813)
          Worth nothing to statistics, sure. But when it comes to people's purchasing habits, emotion is huge.
        • Re:People are bad (Score:4, Interesting)

          by JWW (79176) on Tuesday November 19, 2013 @12:28PM (#45464921)

          If the investigation is brought on by 3 fires in 5 weeks. Then this testimonial from one of the people who's Model S caught fire, represents the fact that 33% of the people who's cars caught fire do not think the fire was dangerous or a big deal and would purchase another Model S again.

          That is, in fact, for this small sample size, statistically valuable.

          • To be fair, TWO of those three people are on record saying they would buy again and don't think the fire was a big deal, given the type of impact.

            • by afidel (530433)

              And the third who drove through a brick wall at high speed and walked away is doubtlessly also impressed by the cars safety features!

              • Re:People are bad (Score:5, Informative)

                by St.Creed (853824) on Tuesday November 19, 2013 @05:43PM (#45468043)

                Yeah. I was rather amazed by this quote:

                "The second Model S car fire occurred outside Merida, Mexico on the Yucatan Peninsula. In that case, the vehicle was traveling at 100 miles per hour before the accident. During Tesla's conference call on Tuesday to discuss quarterly results with analysts, CEO Elon Musk said "The car actually sheared something like 17 feet of concrete wall, then went through a concrete wall, then smashed into a tree." The passengers, who survived what could have been a fatal accident in a less safe car, were able to flee the scene."

                If you can walk away from a collision that starts at 100 mph, you're both extremely lucky and the car was well-designed. Amazing.

      • by Andy Dodd (701)

        Based on that account, the change Tesla SHOULD be making is to be MUCH firmer about the warnings in the case of battery damage. The fire was not in any way sudden - the car was bitching at the driver for *5 minutes* before he pulled over, calmly collected his belongings, and walked away...

        (Although, without possibly some extra integrity checking circuitry such as a wire mesh through the battery case, it might not be easy to distinguish battery puncture from other failure modes.)

        • by X0563511 (793323)

          I believe they have thermal sensors in there - perhaps more than just "BATTERY HOT" could be in order - maybe some thermistors designed to register fire temperatures, and something to make the detection of such a bit more obvious. Example, in an A-10 aircraft those fire extinguisher handles [digitalcom...ulator.com] along the top light up like Christmas trees. Airliners have similar features as well [youtube.com] - why not a car?

        • by Guspaz (556486)

          It doesn't really matter what caused the failure; the sensors are telling the car that the temperature in the battery is rising slowly but uncontrollably, and that the driver needs to get out ASAP... the cause is not relevant to the driver at that point.

    • Re:People are bad (Score:5, Insightful)

      by brxndxn (461473) on Tuesday November 19, 2013 @11:42AM (#45464377)

      People are really bad at understanding statistics because the Mainstream Media purposely skews reporting to maintain current power structures. If the media did a halfway accurate job of reporting how well the Teslas perform compared to traditional cars, you would have a ton of lawmakers, lobbyists, power brokers, and other old-money individuals all 'making phone calls' to get those involved removed. Real journalism has died. Instead, we have 'mainstream journalism' and 'fringe journalism.' The truth is found more often in fringe journalism.

      It's just like watching an NFL game on TV and trying to figure out who the announcers are rooting for.. Guess what? They're rooting for a close game and whatever team has the momentum. If Tesla gains enough 'momentum' and mainstream acceptance (industry is large enough to gain its own power brokers), you will start seeing sensational articles about how great the Tesla is.

      • by Jeremi (14640)

        If Tesla gains enough 'momentum' and mainstream acceptance (industry is large enough to gain its own power brokers), you will start seeing sensational articles about how great the Tesla is.

        I hate to ruin a beautiful theory with facts, but we've already seen plenty of sensational articles about how great the Tesla is.

      • by DaveV1.0 (203135)

        People are really bad at understanding statistics because the Mainstream Media purposely skews reporting to maximize ratings.

        FTFY

    • Re: People are bad (Score:4, Interesting)

      by O('_')O_Bush (1162487) on Tuesday November 19, 2013 @11:50AM (#45464451)
      As others on other news sites have pointed out, Elton's statistics are really bad. Car fires tend to happen in about 1% of auto accidents, while in the Tesla Model S, it has happened in 3/20.

      For investors trying to bank on the Tesla stock bubble, this is a very real concern given what happened to Fisker over battery fires.
      • by jasenj1 (575309)

        That's an interesting statistic.

        If you get in an accident in a gas powered car the likelihood of it catching fire (and presumably doing extensive damage to the vehicle) is low. But in the Tesla the chances of your car burning up are much higher?

        But that assumes the amount of damage caused by a fire is catastrophic. Now we need stats on how much damage is done by fires to know how bad catching fire really is.

        - Jasen.

        • by Splab (574204)

          Also, you need to adjust for speed of collision. Since there are a lot more gasoline powered cars on the road, chances are they are way more represented in low speed accidents, which most likely has lower chance of causing fire.

          • Since there are a lot more gasoline powered cars on the road, chances are they are way more represented in low speed accidents

            That's not how statistics works....

    • Re:People are bad (Score:4, Insightful)

      by sl4shd0rk (755837) on Tuesday November 19, 2013 @11:58AM (#45464521)

      People are really bad at understanding statistics.

      You give them too much credit. A good portion of the population _chooses_ ignorance over logical and rational conclusions. The only explanation is that when it comes to educating oneself, many people say it's "too hard" which basically equates to "I don't f#cking feel like it". (other factors, such as blind fundamentalism, is another matter)

      • by CycleMan (638982)

        Yes, people often choose ignorance. But most of the time, most people do so rationally. Does each of us know who won each college football game this past weekend, and which players contributed what to the results? We could ... but odds are, many of us "don't feel like it," and are therefore ignorant about who's up or down in the BCS standings.

        If you want to talk about the educated populace, scientists often choose to stick with what they know or believe, as documented in Thomas Kuhn's "Theory of Scientif

    • by abigsmurf (919188)
      You don't understand the stats either.

      Musk is comparing a population of new, low milage , well maintained cars driven short distances by caring owners to the general population of cars including 10 year old 80,000 mile rustbuckets driven by teens who haven't had it serviced in years.

      If you are not comparing like for like, you cannot draw any sort of reliable conclusion from your stats
    • by T.E.D. (34228)

      This is (to me) substantially similar to those people who frequently call violent crime a "growing problem" and probably comes from the same lazy, sensationalist reporters.

      That's actually a matter of reporters reusing stories and bits of stories completely unchanged from the 80's, when it was a growing problem. Thirty years of writing the same story over and over again. That's a whole different level of lazy.

  • I am sure Tesla will continue to find ways to improve their design in areas of safety and others, as you would expect from any newer technology. Of course, media attention forces the irony of making design changes while claiming there are no issues of concern. I feel for him, its a no win situation. He should be more up-front though, as we have already discussed at length the misuse of the statistical comparison.
  • by Thud457 (234763) on Tuesday November 19, 2013 @11:38AM (#45464313) Homepage Journal
    If Elon Musk and KAOS really wanted you DEAD , do you really think they're going to piddle around with setting your overpriced %1'er golfcart on fire?!!
  • by noh8rz10 (2716597) on Tuesday November 19, 2013 @11:40AM (#45464349)

    tfs:

    Every Tesla vehicle includes internal walls between the battery modules, in addition to a firewall between the battery pack and the passenger compartment — enough shielding, in the event of a fire, to prevent pens and papers in the glove compartment from combusting

    so, in case of a fire we should crawl into the glove box?

  • With cheap, longlasting oil on the horizon how dare they sell beautifully made 'lectric cars already now?

    Check out my favorite electric car, a Mercedes SLS Electric Drive - a fantastic drive! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IElqf-FCMs8 [youtube.com]

  • Financial media (Score:5, Insightful)

    by korbulon (2792438) on Tuesday November 19, 2013 @11:49AM (#45464445)

    Now there's an institution that doesn't get enough scrutiny, especially the financial news channels. Bloomberg and their ilk aren't so far removed from Fox and Sky (or CNN) in terms of the actual product they deliver, which is sensationalist tripe, delivered by eye candy.

    What passes for journalism today is often little more than a series "factoids" carefully chosen to fit a particular narrative - pro bono omnium hominum.

    • It's the modern version of blame the messenger. Chris Rock said it best when addressing how people blame the media for the "portrayal" of race and crime - "When I go to the ATM money machine at night, I am not looking over my shoulder for the media."
      • by korbulon (2792438)
        So you're saying there is a genuine, substantive story to report with these Tesla fires - enough to warrant all this coverage - and not some drummed-up panic designed to get eyeballs on websites? What then, in your estimation is the real issue in this particular case, if indeed the media is merely a reflection of an underlying reality?
  • More TSA thinking (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JustNiz (692889) on Tuesday November 19, 2013 @11:51AM (#45464461)

    >> Tesla is about to push an 'over-the-air update' to its vehicles' air suspension that will create more ground clearance at highway speeds.

    This is probably all a stupid kneejerk reaction. The suspension was likely already at the ideal height as determined by a lot of windtunnel etc research. Doing this will certainly create more lift under the car and so quite a lot less efficiency all in the name of being seen to be doing something visible (but actually pointless and only negative) in response to a microscopically small chance of another similar accident.

    It just occurred to me that this is a whole lot like the retarded thinking behind the creation and continued existence of the TSA.

    • by timeOday (582209)
      Exactly. But can't this sort of thing be overridden by the end-user? I would hope so, but probably not.
  • by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland AT yahoo DOT com> on Tuesday November 19, 2013 @11:52AM (#45464475) Homepage Journal

    so you need to compare all the miles driven between gasoline and electric cars, not just their numbers.

    Sine gasoline care drive about 3 Trillion miles a year in the US, and the total Tesla mileage. probably isn't even a million limes yet, it paint a different picture, doesn't it Elon?

    Miles driven before incident is the measure that's used, not how many are on the road.

    • by swb (14022) on Tuesday November 19, 2013 @11:58AM (#45464519)

      The age of the cars matters as well, as does the relative state of maintenance.

      It's a reasonable assumption/statement that all Tesla Model S cars are essentially new and likely to be in near perfect maintenance condition.

      If the gasoline car fire numbers were adjusted to only include cars within the age range of Tesla Model S cars and (if possible) the number of cars still within factory warranties, I would imagine the number of gasoline car fires would be significantly lower.

      • by tgd (2822) on Tuesday November 19, 2013 @03:43PM (#45467029)

        The age of the cars matters as well, as does the relative state of maintenance.

        It's a reasonable assumption/statement that all Tesla Model S cars are essentially new and likely to be in near perfect maintenance condition.

        If the gasoline car fire numbers were adjusted to only include cars within the age range of Tesla Model S cars and (if possible) the number of cars still within factory warranties, I would imagine the number of gasoline car fires would be significantly lower.

        If you're going to take that route, then you need to exclude from both lists the cars that have had fires as a result of impacts. Now you're at some number of gas cars and zero Tesla vehicles. Because once you get into an impact, the age of the car is largely irrelevant.

        The cold hard fact is, though, that Musk is right -- there's vastly more energy that wants to burn in a gas tank and associated fuel lines. An accident can easily rupture them, as can age corrode through them. (Even ignoring the added corrosion of ethanol these days.)

    • by kencurry (471519)

      Sine gasoline care drive about 3 Trillion miles a year in the US, and the total Tesla mileage. probably isn't even a million limes yet, it paint a different picture, doesn't it Elon?

      Miles driven before incident is the measure that's used, not how many are on the road.

      How many limes to the gallon?

  • by SuperBanana (662181) on Tuesday November 19, 2013 @11:55AM (#45464495)

    I read a story early this morning talking about Musk's posting, and the author described the three car fires as "engulfed in flames" [forbes.com]. Similar language was used in early October; engulfed, erupted, etc.

    In one case, the car provided dashboard cautions immediately after collision with road debris, then warnings, then the driver pulled over a couple of minutes later, the pack was smoking, he was able to get his belongings, etc. The interior of the car remained accessible and intact.

    Meanwhile, I've witnessed, fought, and heard from friends who had car fires. It typically goes something like this: smoke from somewhere. Seconds, maybe 30 if you're lucky, there are flames. Within a minute or two the car is unsalvageable. In a crash in a gasoline car, the car can be on fire within seconds, and it can be a massive fire; rear collisions break up the fuel systems, front crashes cause both oil and gasoline to leak all over hot engine exhaust parts.

    Firefighters generally don't rush to car fires because by the time they got the dispatch call, the car was already gone anyway; they're there mostly to put it out so the wrecker can collect it. Seriously, go look on youtube at car fires. Within the space of a minute or two, the car is well past the point of no return.

    The hyperbolization here is amazing. Years ago Bose had a little problem with their car audio systems; the electrolytic capacitors would leak the electrolyte, which would then drip down the circuit board. In some cars, the amplifier board was positioned such that this would cause a short that would at the least cause smoking, and caused several fires.

    One owner described driving down the highway, hearing the stereo crackle and drop out, looking in the back window and seeing smoke, racing over to the breakdown lane and getting out and the back shelf was already in flames; he barely had time to stop the car and escape an INTERIOR PASSENGER COMPARTMENT FIRE. In a less-than-a-year-old Audi. Reportedly Audi's regional rep inspected the burned-to-the-ground car and the customer got a replacement car.

    Audi, Infiniti, Corvette, and a couple of other companies were affected; recalls were made for everyone except Audi; a bunch of Audi owners banded together when Audi refused to fix the damaged speakers, and kept selling defective units to replace failed ones. nhtsa refused to discuss with us whether they had reports of other fires or failures and refused to allow owners to speak to the person handling the investigation; Audi USA repeatedly claimed they hadn't ever heard of any malfunctions or fires, when we knew they'd paid for replacement vehicles a decade prior, and continued to claim as such even after other owners had sent in registered mail complaints and received confirmation.

    Lo and behold, nhtsa finally got interested and Audi revised the amp board and did a voluntary recall. Presto, no more failures. They spent years milking owners (the amps would last a few years at most before failure.)

    Then there's all the exotic cars that go up in flames; car enthusiast sites cover them routinely. Funny how Ferrari and Lambo never seems to get mentioned in the press as having a lot of car fires, huh? That's what the best money in PR gets you: shit swept under the rug fast.

  • by jasenj1 (575309) on Tuesday November 19, 2013 @11:59AM (#45464537)

    The negative stories in financial press are designed to drive down the stock price. Then the buddies of the press - or the people the analysts really work for - can pick up shares on the dip. Or they can warn their buddies that a negative story is coming out and work the options angle.

    - Jasen.

  • by gurps_npc (621217) on Tuesday November 19, 2013 @11:59AM (#45464549) Homepage
    Fires per car is worthwhile information, but to be honest, we really need fires per miles driven information.

    That is, if the fires per tesla car is 1/6,000, with a total of 6 billion miles driven, and the fires per gas car is 1/1,300 with a total of 12 billion miles driven (because people drive gas cars much further), then tesla would still be more dangerous than a gas car.

    Note, I personally believe that a Tesla car is safer and less prone to fires than a gas powered car, but the statistic we really need has not been given.

    • by tgd (2822)

      Google can answer that question pretty easily, at least roughly.

      Tesla: 1 fire per 25 million miles (approx. 3 in 75 million)
      Others: 1 fire in 865000 miles (approx. 290,000 in 250 billion)

      So, you're 4.6 times more likely to have a fire in a non-Tesla vehicle.

    • by mdielmann (514750)

      First, you need to look at the criteria you use to determine what you want to learn.

      If the question is: What are the odds that a random vehicle being driven today will catch fire, broken down by Tesla vs. non-Tesla?, then Musk has given the correct figure with the data we have.

      If the question is: How many miles does a vehicle have to be driven, on mean, before it catches fire, broken down by Tesla vs. non-Tesla?, then Musk hasn't given us enough information to determine. Depending on data collection, it

  • by srussia (884021) on Tuesday November 19, 2013 @12:00PM (#45464559)
    That's what you get for using DC in a car named after me, Elon!
  • It's falling because the stock price got way ahead of the company's prospects, which Musk himself has previously acknowledged. The fires were only a catalyst that reminded investors of the systemic, secular, and event risk associated with any company, and in particular for a company that is valued for perfection by the markets.
  • by edibobb (113989) on Tuesday November 19, 2013 @12:07PM (#45464649) Homepage
    Sure, there have been a few fires, but that's no reason for Elon Musk to lash his own back. Poor guy.
  • by bledri (1283728) on Tuesday November 19, 2013 @01:10PM (#45465435)
    From Tesla's blog entry by Elon Musk: [teslamotors.com]

    Third, to reinforce how strongly we feel about the low risk of fire in our cars, we will be amending our warranty policy to cover damage due to a fire, even if due to driver error. Unless a Model S owner actively tries to destroy the car, they are covered. Our goal here is to eliminate any concern about the cost of such an event and ensure that over time the Model S has the lowest insurance cost of any car at our price point. Either our belief in the safety of our car is correct and this is a minor cost or we are wrong, in which case the right thing is for Tesla to bear the cost rather than the car buyer.

    I think it is clear that the Tesla is more likely to have a fire if you hit something hard enough to puncture the vehicle's armor plating and pierce the battery pack. It's a specific mode of failure and I don't know how common of an event this will be in the long run. I also don't think it's as big of a deal as the media is making. It doesn't "explode" or unexpectedly burst into flames that engulf the passenger compartment. A cluster of events does not define a trend in my mind.

    I really like the low center of gravity, the balanced fore-aft weight distribution and the ridiculous amounts of trunk space the "skateboard" design allows. It makes for a great handling car, which improves safety. It also means huge crumble zones to absorb kinetic energy in a crash, which also improves safety. To me, it's a design trade-off. The real measure of the trade off will be whether people are safer, on average, or not. So far there have been no deaths or serious injuries, but the sample size and time frame is small for that to be really meaningful. But I'm hopeful, and if I could afford one, I'd buy one.

  • by acidblue (716452) on Tuesday November 19, 2013 @01:26PM (#45465601) Homepage

    "Tesla is about to push an 'over-the-air update' to its vehicles' air suspension that will create more ground clearance at highway speeds"

    That just sounds awesome. To be able to tune something on a car without taking it into a dealership or have a mechanic (including yourself) touch the thing is just cool.

  • by Animats (122034) on Tuesday November 19, 2013 @01:41PM (#45465741) Homepage

    Tesla is about to push an 'over-the-air update' to its vehicles' air suspension that will create more ground clearance at highway speeds.

    Now that scares me. The suspension can be updated remotely? What could possibly go wrong? Just how good is the security on that? Who has access to the keys? Are you sure? How are the download servers secured? Is the update system protected against cut-and-paste attacks?

    That kind of update could be used as an assassination weapon.

    When Tesla was talking about automatic driving, I suggested that there must be a second processor, with completely different software, checking the main system for sanity (like "not approaching obstacle at high speed") and able to force a stop. The backup system should have its program in ROM, and changing that program should require breaking seals and physically plugging in a new program module.

    Flight control software for airliners works like that. For the Airbus line, the backup software was written by a different team for a different kind of CPU in a different programming language, to avoid any possibility of a common mode failure.

    • by AaronW (33736)

      Some of the cars have active air suspension which is able to raise and lower the car. It is controllable by the touch screen. Normally when driving at highway speeds the car will lower itself. They have disabled this and promised that in a future software update that this feature will be user configurable as to whether or not the car lowers itself.

      I have received several software updates to my car and they have added some major features from those updates. They also have changed things like the last softwar

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