Regulators released a warning this week that a flaw in some BlackBerry software (you remember BlackBerry, right?) could make the cars that use it vulnerable to hackers. A determined criminal could exploit the bug to overwhelm the software and cause it to crash or freeze. BMW, Ford, and Volkswagen use the software in question to help power their cars’ driver assistance systems. Regulators say they are not aware of any instances in which BlackBerry’s system has been exploited, but count this as a reminder to keep your eyes on the road, even if you think your car is watching the road for you.
This Week in Sheetmetal
Nissan finally unveiled the production version of its new Z sports car, and we’re happy to report that it is almost indistinguishable from a prototype we saw last year. We once thought Nissan would call this rear-wheel-drive two-seater the 400Z, but while it will make 400 horsepower from its twin-turbo V-6, it’ll go by plain Z. And yes, it will have a manual transmission.
General Motors announced that it will reveal the Corvette Z06 in full on October 26. GM released a new photo of the flat-plane-crank monster along with the announcement, which marks our first look at the car without the camouflage that has obscured its design details in previous spy shots.
Genesis showed pictures of a jellybean-like EV hatchback it’s calling the GV60. We don’t know much about the car yet, but based on its purported size, we’re guessing it’ll ride on the same E-GMP platform as Hyundai’s Ioniq 5 and Kia’s EV6. Genesis says the new model will go on sale sometime next year.
We caught a glimpse of the next-generation Honda CR-V in testing, though camouflage and body cladding stopped us from getting a clear view. From what we could see, the new CR-V will have a clean front-end design and may be slightly larger than the current-gen car. We expect to get our first real look at the car sometime next year.
If Elon Musk had it to do over again, he might have tried to avoid scheduling Tesla’s Artificial Intelligence (AI) Day in the same week that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced it is launching a safety investigation of Tesla’s Autopilot driver assistance system. But Musk has never been one to let a federal probe slow him down, so Tesla’s planned event went off anyway. In addition to a video demonstration of Level 2 autonomy that showed a Tesla navigating traffic and turns without human help, Tesla also showed off a proprietary semiconductor design and, for some reason, used a human dancer in a robot costume to announce plans for a forthcoming humanoid robot intended to take over “dangerous, repetitive, and boring” tasks from people who would rather not perform them. We’re just glad the robot will be humanoid instead of whatever kind of oid they’re building at Boston Dynamics.
You may recall that only a few short weeks ago, signs pointed to an ease in the microchip shortage that has been plaguing automotive manufacturers for almost a year. But that was then. This week, Ford said it would pause production at the Kentucky plant responsible for its high-profit-margin F-150 for a week. Ford is also cutting production at one of its European plants. Volkswagen said it was preparing for semiconductor supply to be “volatile and very tight” in the third quarter, and announced production cuts at its Wolfsburg, Germany, plant. Even Toyota, which has so far escaped the worst of the shortage thanks to a healthy stockpile of semiconductors, has now announced it will shut down each of its 14 Japan plants for varying periods of time over the next month, and that it will cut production forecasts for September by 40 percent.
Three U.S. Senators sent a joint letter to a Taiwanese diplomat urging Taiwan-based chip manufacturers to ramp up supply to help ease the shortage. But the manufacturers say increasing supply of the microchips is difficult because of the complex facilities and precise processes needed to produce the chips, and they cite fickle demand from the auto industry as disincentive to invest heavily in new manufacturing capacity.
Read about the return of (some) spectators to the 24 Hours of Le Mans after a fan-free 2020 race, reported by the New York Times. Or, also in the Times, profiles of some of the teams of drivers that will compete there.
Reuters has a report this week on another way that an EV revolution would change the car world: by causing a surge in orders for the massive manufacturing machines that will be used in the factories built to assemble EVs.
And for a reminder on why the EV revolution is (supposed to be) happening in the first place, read about the news that NHTSA is preparing to reinstate fines for automakers who miss emissions targets.
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