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Tesla CEO Says Model S Will Support Third-Party Apps

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the don't-leave-the-updating-to-at&t-please dept.

Software 103

thecarchik writes "The electric-car maker's CEO said at a conference today in San Francisco that the much-hyped Model S electric sedan will support third-party apps and text-to-voice capabilities. With its large 17-inch touchscreen console, car fans and investors have long suspected that third-party apps might be part of the Model S plan, but Wednesday's announcement was the first acknowledgement from Musk that the company is courting a developer community."

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Yes, but... (1, Interesting)

abednegoyulo (1797602) | more than 3 years ago | (#35525990)

does it run Linux?

Re:Yes, but... (1)

iluvcapra (782887) | more than 3 years ago | (#35526102)

Yeah, why don't they just put Android on it. And airgap it from the drivetrain and power management.

Re:Yes, but... (4, Funny)

pushing-robot (1037830) | more than 3 years ago | (#35526134)

And airgap it from the drivetrain and power management.

They're way ahead of you: All the car's components communicate wirelessly!

Re:Yes, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35526468)

Funny you say airgap the main power train works via an airgap in the induction motor!

IP ftw (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35526042)

'Tesla' is an amazing trademark. And to post "CEO" and "Tesla" and "app" in a news release on a site like slashdot is just FULL of win. I applaud them.

And... (3, Insightful)

systematical (1394991) | more than 3 years ago | (#35526044)

computer car viruses were born.

Re:And... (1)

kvvbassboy (2010962) | more than 3 years ago | (#35526602)

This is a very dangerous possibility if this computer has any sort of connection with the microprocessors controlling mechanical parts of the car.

Re:And... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35529646)

Re:And... (1)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 3 years ago | (#35529842)

There is a current vulnerability where a specially crafted MP3 file can run arbitrary code in the car's player, and since some of them now have access to the general CAN bus, the possibilities are huge. Cars can be hacked with music [hackaday.com] .

Re:And... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35531556)

Everyone has access to the CAN bus through the OBD port on MANY MANY cars. I've got a good physical attack idea: cut the brake lines or hotwire the car. The attacks on cars are the same as they have been for decades now we have computers. It is still extremely difficult to steal the car using these attacks.

Re:And... (1)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 3 years ago | (#35531950)

I'm not talking about stealing. Imagine if a bunch of crafted MP3 files to e.g. disable the breaks were distributed through P2P networks.

Computer virus that can actually kill you.

Too small a customer base (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35526070)

In my humble opinion the small customer base will limit app development and/or make things expensive.

Is software really their core competency? (4, Insightful)

Sanity (1431) | more than 3 years ago | (#35526080)

Why are they coming up with their own operating system and app ecosystem, is this really the core competency of a car company? Why aren't they using Android, which already has text to voice, voice to text, GPS navigation, and almost everything else you might need in a car?

Re:Is software really their core competency? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35526152)

Because it's hard to make money selling an SDK when there is a free alternative.

I suspect that:
1. All Apps must be approved and vetted "App Store" style by Tesla
2. You will have to pay for an SDK to develop on it
3. It will be a poorly done rehash of Android/iOS about 2 generations ago and will have lots of bugs.

Android and other alternatives will not be used in the name of "Security"

Re:Is software really their core competency? (2)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 3 years ago | (#35529900)

You could do all that with Android, just change the default store in the code to Tesla's and disable the possibility of installing apps from any other source.

And instead of charging for the SDK, charge for registering an account to sell the apps in their store, it works out the same.

Re:Is software really their core competency? (1)

ashvagan (885082) | more than 3 years ago | (#35526162)

because it's more ... secure?

Re:Is software really their core competency? (4, Insightful)

eln (21727) | more than 3 years ago | (#35526178)

I agree with your assertion that developing their own app ecosystem is the wrong approach, but I disagree with your conclusion. In my mind, trying to transform an electric car into basically a smart phone on wheels is a horrible idea, and their approach (much like your "use Android" solution) is simply wrong-headed.

At this stage, the aim of electric cars should be proving that they are a viable alternative to gasoline-powered cars, at least following the 80/20 rule. Getting sidetracked by bells and whistles now is counterproductive. Tesla should be concentrating on making a car that's capable of serving at least 80% of the needs a standard sedan meets (short trips, daily commutes, cruise control, capable of seating 5, etc) while costing at best a small premium over gasoline-powered competitors. Encouraging the development of apps that will draw power and reduce the range or carrying capacity of the vehicle is silly.

At this point, consumers interested in electric cars, outside of the rich folks who are looking to buy Tesla's roadster model, only really want to know that an electric car can handle their daily needs without running out of juice and that it won't cost a fortune. Giving it the ability to play Angry Birds is simply a distraction.

Re:Is software really their core competency? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35526228)

Tesla already has their prototype, production facilities, media promotions, deals with other car companies, good name, roadster etc. The car pipeline for the next 5 years is probably full. I'm guessing that they're looking at the "after the S series is wildly successful" period and the boss is talking about the not-so-near 'potential' future developments of Tesla motors.

It's a good old fashioned rant like all successful creative people make when their brain fills up.

They are working that is why they are opening it (4, Insightful)

bussdriver (620565) | more than 3 years ago | (#35526322)

They are working on the car, this is a side thing that will bring in things from the outside. You can't work on the car but you could add cool things to it and contribute to it in that way. It also means they may have some great new ideas that SELL the car to people who are less interested in going green. If they get a community going around this aspect they can free up resources.... like if the linux people take over the system and save MS taxes so later the smaller car can be cheaper.

Its not just about batteries - which they don't do - its about getting an affordable CAR that people can buy and actually drive. It has to be expensive, so they went with the high end sports car and now they've worked down to the expensive car next they can work down to a mid-level car. Its harder to get the cheap affordable car so their approach to appeal to the top and work down is a WISE MOVE and helps dispel the myths of electric that have been around for so long. The sports car did a great job showing all that PR was lies- the problem is range but they don't have to be weak ugly little cars like the stereotype. This is just a step towards an electric we can all afford (pending battery tech which isn't really their thing.)

The average American need more than just a smart electric car like the Aptera - sure they don't ACTUALLY need more most of the time but the problem is that they don't believe that.

Re:They are working that is why they are opening i (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 3 years ago | (#35528070)

like if the linux people take over the system and save MS taxes so later the smaller car can be cheaper.

One tank of fuel's worth of cost difference on a $50,000 car is hardly a big deal.. I don't see why they'd go with MS on this anyway.

Re:They are working that is why they are opening i (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35528900)

I'd buy an Aptera if:

1) They'd sell one to me - if you aren't in California, you can't even make a reservation.
2) There was a seating configuration with a back seat for the kids. 2+1, 1+2, etc. would work great.

Meanwhile, my 2001 Prius keeps ticking along at 172k miles on its 2nd HV battery. The engine in that thing sounds like it only has 80k - these things last for a *long* time if the battery is kept up. I'd like to have an Aptera for my daily driving and use the Prius for trips > 100 miles. Alternatively, I would buy a new turbo diesel hybrid if it had a minimum fuel economy of 72 mpg and could seat 5. Good luck getting diesel or a manual transmission in the US...

Re:They are working that is why they are opening i (1)

Illicon (1588477) | more than 3 years ago | (#35529010)

I'm confused a little about the whole motivation behind electric cars. Maybe someone with a little more knowledge on the subject can fill me in.

I like the idea of eliminating or at least reducing our dependence on foreign oil for political purposes. I'm not so sure I like the idea of replacing our petroleum-based transportation with what will essentially be coal-based transportation. I personally don't think there's much we can do about global warming, and I'll admit I'm not 100% convinced that we're even causing it. That being said, from the perspective of a AGW fanatic, wouldn't this switch from gas to coal be undesirable?

Re:They are working that is why they are opening i (1)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 3 years ago | (#35529924)

Maybe AGW fanatics also support nuclear generation of electricity?

Re:They are working that is why they are opening i (1)

Illicon (1588477) | more than 3 years ago | (#35532030)

Bingo! ...and I do as well.

The problem is that not all AGW fanatics support nuclear energy. In fact, I would wager that most don't, and this will worsen in the coming months. Some seem to think that by driving an electric vehicle they are helping reduce greenhouse emissions, but in most areas, they aren't. In reality, they are contributing more. Electric cars will not help reduce greenhouse emissions until coal use is significantly reduced. Solar and wind will help a small amount, but electric cars and nuclear energy are a package deal.

Re:They are working that is why they are opening i (1)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 3 years ago | (#35533434)

Hydro, solar, wind, wave and geothermal already account for 45% of our electricity here in Portugal. Of course we pay heavily for that, with one of the highest electricity rates in the EU, in a country with one of the lowest average wages.
The lack of competition in the distribution to residences doesn't help:|

Re:They are working that is why they are opening i (1)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 3 years ago | (#35533480)

By the way, we pay heavily for that because for now the government is subsidizing the construction of wind farms, solar panels, etc.

Supposedly we should pay less in the future; but with the way the economy is going, we'll be bankrupt before that.

Re:They are working that is why they are opening i (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | more than 3 years ago | (#35531244)

I like the idea of eliminating or at least reducing our dependence on foreign oil for political purposes. I'm not so sure I like the idea of replacing our petroleum-based transportation with what will essentially be coal-based transportation. I personally don't think there's much we can do about global warming, and I'll admit I'm not 100% convinced that we're even causing it. That being said, from the perspective of a AGW fanatic, wouldn't this switch from gas to coal be undesirable?

How about we ask the other question - is it easier to clean up millions of cars, or thousands of coal plants? Or, put another way, is it easier to mandate that all cars have some sort of emissions control mechanism or to have all coal power plants do same? Or is it easier to control the emissions of millions of tailpipes or thousands of smokestacks?

Short of requiring all vehicles go through some sort of emissions and efficiency inspection annually (and have everyone complain about the cost of emissions checks, how the efficiency ratings screw the sportiness of cars, etc), it'll be pretty damn hard to ensure that all those vehicles are working at peak efficiency.

Re:They are working that is why they are opening i (1)

Illicon (1588477) | more than 3 years ago | (#35532110)

Peak efficiency or not, gasoline is much cleaner to burn than coal. You can clean up coal plants all you want, but you can't change that. By trading your internal combustion engine for a car that runs on electricity produced by burning coal, you are making the situation worse.

Re:They are working that is why they are opening i (1)

cthulhu11 (842924) | more than 3 years ago | (#35539408)

You totally don't understand Tesla's target market, do you?

apps and computers don't drain the car (1)

spage (73271) | more than 3 years ago | (#35527882)

Encouraging the development of apps that will draw power and reduce the range or carrying capacity of the vehicle is silly.
What's silly is having so little numeracy and common sense to think that even a 100 W touch screen computer (10× the power draw of the iPad power supply) will affect the power and range of an EV with a 42 kWh (or larger) battery pack and probably a 185,000 Watt motor.

Re:Is software really their core competency? (1)

wamatt (782485) | more than 3 years ago | (#35528234)

Getting sidetracked by bells and whistles now is counterproductive. Tesla should be concentrating on making a car that's capable of serving at least 80% of the needs a standard sedan meets (short trips, daily commutes, cruise control, capable of seating 5, etc) while costing at best a small premium over gasoline-powered competitors. Encouraging the development of apps that will draw power and reduce the range or carrying capacity of the vehicle is silly.

Your argument assumes that adding bells and whistles can not be done in parallel to making an awesome electric vehicle. Why is it one or the other?

The second assumption I think is false is that the Tesla "ipad" will draw more than just a neglible amount (comparatively) of electric energy to operate. I don't think 1 app or 20 apps is going to make the slightest difference to the the amount of miles it can drive.

Re:Is software really their core competency? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35526196)

I'll draw flak for this, but under no circumstances do I want my car running Linux, Unix, Windows (CE), or iOS. No, even Linux is not reliable enough for my car... sorry.

You know what, let me put that another way. I don't want my car to run any type of general-purpose or consumer operating system (including Tesla's). Apps can DIAF.

- Cue the queue of luddite accusations.

Re:Is software really their core competency? (1)

corychristison (951993) | more than 3 years ago | (#35526464)

It's just the entertainment console, not the part that makes the tires move when you hit the gas. Don't worry about it.

Re:Is software really their core competency? (1)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 3 years ago | (#35526738)

That raises the question: can you say "hit the gas" in an electric car? ;-)

Eh, why not. I still sometimes say "I taped it" with my DVR.

Re:Is software really their core competency? (1)

Custard Horse (1527495) | more than 3 years ago | (#35529228)

When your DVR disk corrupts do you say it "chewed up the tape"? ;)

Re:Is software really their core competency? (1)

BiggerIsBetter (682164) | more than 3 years ago | (#35528100)

Given the size it'll probably be a multi-function display, so it'll interface with the system CANbus (or fiber, or whatever it uses). If it does that, it should be at least MISRA certified and/or perhaps even DO-178B/C/D certified depending on the impact. Fortunately there are embedded COTS solutions that met these MISRA and/or DO-178x specs... so it doesn't have to be custom, and it doesn't have to be consumer spec.

Re:Is software really their core competency? (4, Funny)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 3 years ago | (#35526306)

Why aren't they using Android, which already has text to voice, voice to text, GPS navigation, and almost everything else you might need in a car?

Or, at the very least, have the "Other OS" option enabled! WTF? Do I own the car or not?

Also, don't they see that they are destroying the "car analogy" meme? I wonder how the /. editors can't see the impact this is going to have on the slashvertising business.

</sarcasm>

Re:Is software really their core competency? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35526400)

You fail to see the whole point. This isn't about providing a survivable long-term car operating system. It's there to make their cars sell quicker. In 5 years it will be unsupported and Tesla will insist for you to upgrade by buying a newer car outright. Don't expect them to listen to customer complaints - the influx of $ will be deafening to the executive's ears. Every other manufacturer will shortly follow in Tesla's footsteps.

Re:Is software really their core competency? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35526848)

Yeah, sure, let's make sure you no longer need a mobile phone to track people..

Android is so full of "use Google" that I would not want it near anything I own..

Re:Is software really their core competency? (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 3 years ago | (#35528098)

Android is so full of "use Google" that I would not want it near anything I own..

"iOS is so full of "use iTunes" that I would not want it near anything I own.."

"Windows is so full of "use Windows Live!" that I would not want it near anything I own.."

What exactly are you going to use if you ever get a phone?

What is even wrong with using Google services? Just don't use them for anything private if you're bothered. There are also non-Google alternatives to Maps/Navigation/Mail/Search, etc, etc, if you're seriously that paranoid.

Software in cars (2)

sjbe (173966) | more than 3 years ago | (#35526940)

is this really the core competency of a car company?

If you are asking can car companies do software, the answer is absolutely yes. Modern cars are loaded with software and every major car company has to be good at it. HOWEVER, the car companies are not very good at the sort of software you find in consumer electronics. Their development cycles are too slow, volumes are too low and their costs are too high to play in that space.

Ford actually did something pretty smart with their Sync platform and (finally) realized that they just need to provide an interface to the stuff on your smartphone instead of trying to reinvent it themselves. (and they did try - repeatedly) Lets the consumer electronics companies do what they do well and let the car companies do what they do well. Took Ford a lot of wasted development efforts to realize that but they seem to have come to their senses.

Oh, and I'm pretty sure a company founded by Elon Musk probably will have some clue how software works.

It's from a third party, runs Adobe Flash or AIR? (1)

spage (73271) | more than 3 years ago | (#35527850)

Back in 2009, RoundArch blog [roundarch.com] said "The Tesla Model S – Touch-Screen User Experience is Powered by Roundarch’s Merapi project [merapiproject.net] ...
  Roundarch’s Merapi is a revolutionary solution for bridging traditional desktop and Web technologies, ... [Merapi gives] Access to hardware devices: Browser-based technologies (Adobe Flash, Microsoft Silverlight, AJAX) previously did not have native access to hardware other than microphone and Web cam."
"Merapi is a technology that can be used as a messaging bridge between applications that run in the Adobe Flash player or Adobe AIR and applications written in Java."

Nothing much since, maybe Tesla has changed supplier. But it's unlikely Tesla is doing the work themselves, as you say it's not their core competency.

Re:It's from a third party, runs Adobe Flash or AI (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 3 years ago | (#35528112)

Ah, it's using Flash and Silverlight and has an internet connection. At least it will be secure!

Re:Is software really their core competency? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35527976)

Why aren't they using Android, which already has text to voice, voice to text, GPS navigation, and almost everything else you might need in a car?

Because Android has not text to voice, voice to text or GPS navigation, at least not OFLLINE one. You use google servers for voice to text, for text to voice and for GPS navigation.

He is talking about REAL text to voice, voice to text an GPS without having to give all the data about where you are, your car model, velocity, acceleration and engine revolutions,what are you making on your car, who you are and who you are with(if voice sending to home is activated) at every single instant to any third company.

Networks (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35526084)

I hope the computer systems that run the engine, wheels, and steering, are not networked into the entertainment console. Someone will just need to install a virus into the console, and then boom, steering freezes up and everyone dies.
 
  Also, a 17 inch screen in the center console is just asking for a distracted death. Knobs are a far better interface when driving, buttons are the second best, touchscreens are probably awful.

Re:Networks (1)

cgenman (325138) | more than 3 years ago | (#35526176)

Most GPS devices are touchscreen based. Anywhere that you have an abstracted interface that can change, knobs and buttons don't work. You have to look at the screen. At least with touchscreens you can just poke at what you're not supposed to be paying attention to.

On a side note, I'd love it if the engine, wheels, steering, etc was modifiable. Software mods of existing cars are a common way of boosting performance. You'd probably want standards, a whole lot of vetting, and a great fallback system. But downloadable softmods to tune ride characteristics would be amazing.

Re:Networks (1)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 3 years ago | (#35526448)

But downloadable softmods to tune ride characteristics would be amazing.

Yes!!! Wonderful, can't expect to plug in my own heuristic algo to control the debit from the NOS bottles!

Touch screens are scary while driving (1)

sjbe (173966) | more than 3 years ago | (#35527002)

Anywhere that you have an abstracted interface that can change, knobs and buttons don't work.

The folks at BMW disagree with you. You may or may not like their IDrive system (personally I like it) but it's designed explicitly to not require a touch screen. Reason being is that the act of moving your finger at arms length to a specific point on a screen with no tactile feedback requires a dangerous amount of attention from your eyes. You cannot help but be distracted for a scary amount of time. With the controls in the BMW you can navigate the system with much shorter spans of distraction. The quality of execution of their particular system is debatable but in principle I think they are on the right track. Touch screens as they are presently implemented have interfaces that are relatively dangerous to operate while driving.

My truck has a built in touch screen and it is difficult to navigate the menus while safely driving. Fortunately it also has some voice controls so I frequently can get around this problem. I like having it but they really needed to put more thought and research into the interface. My eyes need to be on the road as much as possible, not navigating menus on an LCD screen.

Re:Touch screens are scary while driving (1)

dunkelfalke (91624) | more than 3 years ago | (#35527848)

You are not supposed to use the touchscreen while driving.

Re:Touch screens are scary while driving (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 3 years ago | (#35533094)

You've never used a Kenwood high end system. It's all about the touchscreen for selecting everything except volume. And, yes, it's stupid.

Now we can have viruses... (1)

Tideflat (1858480) | more than 3 years ago | (#35526144)

Now we can have viruses that not only steal your data but steal your car as well.

Hmm, third-party apps you say? (1)

3dr (169908) | more than 3 years ago | (#35526166)

The Tesla S. We must do TORCS to it.
Yesssssssssss.

Great (3, Interesting)

mccalli (323026) | more than 3 years ago | (#35526180)

There was a poll some time ago, must admit can't remember if slashdot or reddit, about the most overpriced piece of technology you use.

My answer would be car-related. From the ludicrous stereo to the 50p light snesing diode that seems to translate to hundreds of pounds when translated into the phrase "automatic headlights", in-car tech is ripe for commoditisation. An open platform will do wonders for this, even if 'open' isn't the libre definition but simply a published API.

Cheers,

Ian

Re:Great (1)

whoever57 (658626) | more than 3 years ago | (#35526216)

My answer would be car-related. From the ludicrous stereo to the 50p light snesing diode that seems to translate to hundreds of pounds when translated into the phrase "automatic headlights", in-car tech is ripe for commoditisation.

You don't really think that the car manufacturer actually pays anything like those prices, do you? The manufacturer is paying pennies, but charges many dollars for these items (especially if you are buying the parts as replacements).. Those options prices and spare part prices are how the manufacturer makes a profit!

Re:Great (1)

mccalli (323026) | more than 3 years ago | (#35526238)

"You don't really think that the car manufacturer actually pays anything like those prices, do you? "

Not in the slightest, no. They're likely paying less than the 50p I could buy it at myself at an electronics store. Yet they charge me hundreds extra for something that was commodity back in the 80s when I was learning how to code.

In-car tech is a serious, serious rip-off.

Cheers,
Ian

Re:Great (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35526546)

The truth of the matter is that there's hardly any profit in the cars at all. Most cars sell at a terribly small margin. A dealer might only make $500 on the sale of a new sedan. The manufacturers generally sell compact cars at a loss so they can can meet their fleet requirements for mpg. That's the reason why the margins on options are so high. It's also the reason why they push the extra warranties and stuff so hard, and why all the car companies had essentially become banks, their biggest profit centers were the financing.

Re:Great (1)

adolf (21054) | more than 3 years ago | (#35526914)

Depends on the tech.

Let me just pick an example. (I'll use a car analogy.)

A premium factory sound system might be $1,500. It will be well-integrated into a modern car: The speaker grills will match the interior, the lighting will match other electronic stuff in the car, and it will function with steering wheel/rear seat controls or voice command or whatever other gee-whiz functions the car happens to have.

Can you buy a better audio system for $1,500? Sure, no problem. Will it integrate well? Probably not, even if you put a lot of time, effort and research into it, and do the work yourself, but it might.

Can you pay someone else $1,500 and end up with a stereo+car combination that both sounds better and integrates every bit as well as well as the factory option would? How about having the installer optimize a DSP to make the parts work as well as possible in that particular car? Er, uh...probably not. (And don't kid yourself: Ford, to pick a common-enough example, has been using model-specific DSP programming to smooth out their factory audio systems since at least the middle 90's. GM isn't much different.)

Doubtful.

Another example: Backup sensors.

Can you add an aftermarket distance sensor to a car cheaper than the factory? Sure -- the kits are cheap. Can you smoothly integrate the electronics into the rest of the car? Probably -- the beep-beep-beep function is pretty basic, and all it needs for signalling is a reverse switch. But can you get the sensors installed in the rear bumper and painted to match the rest of the car, and still save money? Probably so, if you do it all yourself. If you're paying someone else to do it, however, it might as well be Ford (or whoever).

And then: How about a warranty? Or financing?

(I can go on, but I don't see any need to do so.)

Re:Great (1)

Beyond_GoodandEvil (769135) | more than 3 years ago | (#35534818)

Let me just pick an example. (I'll use a car analogy.) A premium factory sound system might be $1,500. It will be well-integrated into a modern car: The speaker grills will match the interior, the lighting will match other electronic stuff in the car, and it will function with steering wheel/rear seat controls or voice command or whatever other gee-whiz functions the car happens to have.
Seeing as how most of the labor cost of an install goes into tearing the car apart to put that shit in, then it's not really applicable to an extra 5 minutes while the pieces are being put into place the 1st time. Or do you think the automaker need to amortize the cost of engineering a sat nav over 100,000 units at 5x the cost of an off the shelf garmin?

Re:Great (1)

adolf (21054) | more than 3 years ago | (#35540174)

It is applicable to me, the consumer: It can cost me $1,500 now, or $1,500 later. In the former case, I (again, the consumer) get a warranty and never miss a day without my new car.

In the latter, I spend the same money, may or may not get a reasonable warranty with it, will lose at least a few hours or a couple of days of use for my new car, and may spend the rest of my term with that car wondering why things don't integrate as well as they should.

Obviously, it's cheaper for Ford (or whoever) to do this work than [random aftermarket dude]* and they therefore make a fair bit of coin on these accessories. And obviously, as a consumer, I want the best stuff I can get for the minimum amount of money -- whatever that stuff is.

But do you really believe that profit is a sin? FFS, lack of profit was the entire reason behind the recent and near-universal collapse of the domestic car market!

FFFFS, do you believe in a competitive market?

If Ford charged what it actually cost to install a good audio system, there'd be no fucking way that Clarion (to pick another example) would even be allowed to exist anymore. Fortunately, due to competition, Ford doesn't have to charge so little as that and so Clarion continues to be able to exist. Hooray! Consumer choice wins.

*: I don't work much with car audio, these days, but I do work with most every other avenue of automotive electronics. Specific to this context, I outfit ambulances with communications gear. I know first-hand that it's far easier and faster (and therefore cheaper) to get my stuff installed in a new squad while it's still being assembled, much as Ford can do, than it is to install the same gear into a squad which has already been delivered.

But I, the provider of communications (and the company behind me) charge the same either way. The difference in time spent shows directly in my own pocketbook as profit, while the result for the end-user is the same: Either way, the spend X, and get Y.

Just like, for the purposes of my argument, a Ford stereo vs. paying someone else to figure it out and make it work.

Re:Great (1)

whoever57 (658626) | more than 3 years ago | (#35539302)

What's your point? All you have shown is that it would cost you, the buyer a lot to get that fancy tech from another source. So what?

Look at a plastic molding. Imagine how much it would cost your to get a plastic molding that wasn't made by the normal manufacturer of said part.

The point that you have completely missed is that the cost to the manufacturer is far, far less than the price paid by the end user, when buying the parts individually. This is tru for just about anything on a car, even if generic parts are available.

Parts manufacturers will even sell parts to the OEM at a loss (or near loss), knowing they they can make a profit on aftermarket sales of the same device, simply because it is installed on a particular type of car.

Re:Great (1)

adolf (21054) | more than 3 years ago | (#35540280)

Is profit a sin?

Re:Great (1)

whoever57 (658626) | more than 3 years ago | (#35542882)

Is profit a sin?

Please click the "Parent" link enough times that you can see the context for the comments.

Re:Great (1)

adolf (21054) | more than 3 years ago | (#35545512)

I read all of those comments when the thread started.

So...what was your point, again?

Most overpriced? (1)

sjbe (173966) | more than 3 years ago | (#35527038)

the most overpriced piece of technology you use.

Easy - text messaging. Cost per megabyte is absolutely astronomical while the actual cost to the telecom provider is a good approximation of zero. Costs them more to bill you for the text message than they likely spend delivering it.

My vote for second most overpriced is inkjet printer ink. Costs more per ounce than human blood.

From the ludicrous stereo to the 50p light snesing diode that seems to translate to hundreds of pounds when translated into the phrase "automatic headlights", in-car tech is ripe for commoditisation.

My company makes wire harnesses and other auto electronics and I'm both the accountant and the engineer. These parts are not as cheap as you think they are, particularly when you consider the labor cost involved. A simple diode may be cheap but car companies don't buy a single diode - they buy sub-assemblies. That has to all be assembled ($$), engineered (more $$), tested (still more $$), etc.

Re:Most overpriced? (1)

deathcow (455995) | more than 3 years ago | (#35527520)

> Costs them more to bill you for the text message than they likely spend delivering it.

Yes, but only if you ignore the costs of -- Cell towers. Antennas. Radios. Packet Control Units. Amplifiers. Receivers. Transcoders. Mobile Switching Centers. Private Lines over SONET rings. Fiber optics equipment. Racks of GSM base station blades. Switch software licenses and support contracts to people like Ericsson. WAP headcount licenses. Software licenses. More software licenses. And also the salaries of network engineers, cellular engineers, trunking engineers, traffic analysts, operations staff, support engineers, and some management costs in there as well.

Re:Most overpriced? (1)

RobertLTux (260313) | more than 3 years ago | (#35527856)

okay so if you are going to charge everything and part of the cost of SMS then you need to figure out what fraction of everything is actually used by SMS as apposed to phone calls and other data.

if its found out that 99.99999% of the cost is taken up by everything else then yes it could cost them more to bill you for a given message than it does to actually handle the message.

Re:Most overpriced? (1)

NoseyNick (19946) | more than 3 years ago | (#35537698)

To put this in context... a voice call is equivalent to about 450 SMS messages PER MINUTE. Tell me how much you pay per voice minute... then tell me how much you pay for 450 SMS messages.

Output only from ECU and OBD please. (1)

deadhammer (576762) | more than 3 years ago | (#35526194)

Throw on Android, and hardware restrict ALL on-board electronics to be output readings only (current speed, fuel economy, GPS coordinates, temperature readings, etc.) We don't need some jackass rooting his car and disabling the power steering at 88 mph.

Re:Output only from ECU and OBD please. (1)

amanicdroid (1822516) | more than 3 years ago | (#35526260)

88 MPH? What if the fools manage to channel a gigawatt of power into their flux capacitor? THIS MUST BE STOPPED! The grandfather paradox! ALL OF OUR LIVES ARE MOOT IF THIS TECHNOLOGY SUCCEEDS.

Re:Output only from ECU and OBD please. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35526288)

I don't understand why people want the car loaded up with its own out-of-date, maintenance-required, out-of-sync, incompatible, internet-connected, controversial, locked-down OS.

Why not simply turn the console screen into a gigantic shell for the owner's phone. Let the fucking phone power the OS. In 2 years the car's hardware will be obsolete anyway. At least this way the car would basically be OS-agnostic, provided the phone is capable of supporting it.

Re:Output only from ECU and OBD please. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35526646)

I'll tell you why not -- because if they do that, you can bet your bottom dollar it'll have an iPhone/iPad dock connector, and nobody else's phone will work with it.

It's a great idea in theory -- with almost all new high-end phones supporting HDMI out and USB host (for touchscreen/keys/etc. input), it should work great. But in practice, they always botch this stuff up.

You should have the right to repair your own car a (2)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 3 years ago | (#35526214)

You should have the right to repair your own car and not have to go to the dealer to read out some codes / reset stuff. Any car shop should be able to get the software / hardware needed to fix cars and not have it be locked to the dealer.

Re:You should have the right to repair your own ca (1)

Digital Mage (124845) | more than 3 years ago | (#35530214)

https://www.innova.com/ [innova.com]

I haven't personally tried these but I'm tempted to pick one up and test it out.

Re:You should have the right to repair your own ca (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35530904)

Just get an OBD reader. They are cheap.

Roll out the tropes (1)

dakameleon (1126377) | more than 3 years ago | (#35526240)

Now imagine a Beowulf cluster of these...

Re:Roll out the tropes (3, Funny)

darthdavid (835069) | more than 3 years ago | (#35526294)

You mean a Beowulf convoy?

Dangerous (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35526262)

As a cyclist I look forward to a silent car where the driver is distracted by apps.

Re:Dangerous (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35526534)

As a cyclist, unless the cars you encounter are either V8s or ridiculous little cars with oversized exhausts, you should know that the sound you hear from an approaching car comes from the tyres, not the engine.

Re:Dangerous (2)

Confusador (1783468) | more than 3 years ago | (#35526566)

Also as a cyclist, I hate to break it to you: they're already here. most of the new cars I see can't be heard over the wind unless they're rolling, and the drivers have smartphones...

MINI Connected is potentially better idea (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 3 years ago | (#35526270)

MINI offers something called MINI Connected, which is a system that has a screen in a car, and an application (Android and iPhone) that once hooked to the car, can display or record all kinds of information.

The interesting thing is that there's also been at least one third party application announced (I forget the name, some network radio company) that when linked into the MINI, detects the system and takes advantage of the in-dash screen, and even more importantly the control knob that you use to move through the UI when the app is being viewed from the car screen.

I think a system that leverages Android/iPhone devices and just provides a nice built in dashboard display makes a ton more sense. Then you have right away a huge number of people that can write something for your car without learning something new, or making small changes to existing apps to take advantage of your car integration.

MINI's system is kind of locked down (not sure if just anyone could develop applications that linked into the in-car system) but the idea there is a really good one if opened a bit more to all application developers.

Only one App Store? (1)

CheerfulMacFanboy (1900788) | more than 3 years ago | (#35526274)

Or can I download my apps from the Chinese store of my choice?

"Car analogy", please (2)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 3 years ago | (#35526320)

Guys, I really don't get it. Can someone post a "car analogy" for me, please?

Re:"Car analogy", please (1)

dakameleon (1126377) | more than 3 years ago | (#35526332)

Yo dawg, I heard you like cars, so we put a car in your computer so you can drive while you compute!

Re:"Car analogy", please (1)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 3 years ago | (#35526402)

Yo dawg, I heard you like cars, so we put a car in your computer so you can drive while you compute!

But does this car have valves [valvesoftware.com] or is it steam powered [steampowered.com] ? What about the car's specific impulse [impulsedriven.com] ?

So I was looking at a car the other day. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35526344)

I might have bought it except...I kept running into features I did not want or need, and the shill trying to sell it to me could not understand that all the things they were trying to get me interested in were totally uninteresting at best, negatives at worst.

XM? Don't want it. MP3 Player? Again, no thanks. Push to start? Nope. Rear Camera? Absolutely not. I wasn't being offered useful features, I was being sold on things that only serve to run up the price.

And I'm not even half as tech shy as my mother. She HATES automatic headlights. She is just so afraid that they're going to stay on. Terrified. Can't stand them. Yeah, I know that they exist to turn off the things but she's just so upset over them being on. She WILL go outside and check to see if they went off.

So...um, no thank you Tesla.

Re:So I was looking at a car the other day. (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 3 years ago | (#35526474)

You're not the target audience then. I own a Roadster, and have money down on the Model S, and I like what they're doing with it. That's what I want out of a ~$50K luxury sedan. If I wanted a bare bones Yaris, I'd go buy a Yaris.

Re:So I was looking at a car the other day. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35526476)

I might have bought it except...I kept running into features I did not want or need, and the shill trying to sell it to me could not understand that all the things they were trying to get me interested in were totally uninteresting at best, negatives at worst.

XM? Don't want it. MP3 Player? Again, no thanks. Push to start? Nope. Rear Camera? Absolutely not. I wasn't being offered useful features, I was being sold on things that only serve to run up the price.

And I'm not even half as tech shy as my mother. She HATES automatic headlights. She is just so afraid that they're going to stay on. Terrified. Can't stand them. Yeah, I know that they exist to turn off the things but she's just so upset over them being on. She WILL go outside and check to see if they went off.

So...um, no thank you Tesla.

Power steering? Don't want it. Windshield? Again, no thanks. Spark plugs? Who needs them? Shock absorbers? How dare you! These things only make the price go up.

My mother says she HATES rubber wheels. She is just so afraid that they're going to stay on. Terrifed. Can't stand them. Yeah I know that they exist to turn off the things but ... what?

A car should not have a 17 inch screen (2)

Animats (122034) | more than 3 years ago | (#35526384)

Or "apps". Too much "head down" time.

I don't want drivers looking at a screen instead of the road. They should be driving, not playing Angry Birds. At least until self-driving car technology is deployed.

Re:A car should not have a 17 inch screen (1)

Elbereth (58257) | more than 3 years ago | (#35526674)

I doubt it's much worse than people messing with the stereo or trying to read maps. Both are extremely frustrating to see in other drivers, but it's not like this is the first time that someone in a car has had the potential to be distracted by shiny toys. Anyways, it's probably more for the benefit of the passenger than the driver. I've often thought that such technology was long due, and I welcome the future. Plus, if millions of people end up dead on the highways, the free market will surely solve the problem. Remember, government regulation is bad and never works!

Re:A car should not have a 17 inch screen (1)

Bloodwine77 (913355) | more than 3 years ago | (#35526728)

One of the best features in modern cars are stereo controls on the steering wheel. I never look down at the stereo as my thumb fiddles through the stations or iterates over a MP3 CD. Also, I have to give Toyota some credit in the Camry interior design. When I first bought my Camry I thought their clock placement was really odd and stupid. I thought, "Why is the clock so far forward in the dash by the windshield?! It doesn't seem natural". Well, it turns out I was just used to other cars with the clock down in the center console. I now see the beauty of the clock placement in the Camry because I can glance at the time with my eyes still mostly on the road.

Re:A car should not have a 17 inch screen (1)

moderatorrater (1095745) | more than 3 years ago | (#35526842)

At least until self-driving car technology is deployed

There's an app for that.

Re:A car should not have a 17 inch screen (1)

semi-extrinsic (1997002) | more than 3 years ago | (#35527282)

There's an app for that.

Why else is Google testing driverless vehicles, you think? It's not like they're a car company, and when you consider that a cutting-edge smartphone has number crunching capabilities far surpassing the guidance systems in the space shuttle...

put it on blocks (3, Insightful)

dltaylor (7510) | more than 3 years ago | (#35527402)

Although my wife's Jaguar has a touchscreen, it is surrounded by controls for the most commonly used features (knob for audio volume, buttons for source select and program advance/rewind, touch-identifiable for temp/fan/defrost climate controls). Only infrequently used controls and the nav system need the touchscreen, and the nav system is never used (despite buying a map update) except by out-of-town visitors, and they get voice directions once I program the destination in the driveway. The most-used control on the touchscreen is the one that sets the display to the Jaguar logo, since it defaults to the main menu unless you had one of the other subsystems up when the car was shut down.

The electro-stoners that are busy running through the menus on their no-knob stereos and touch screen systems are as bad as any substance abusers. Confiscate their wheels and put their cars on blocks, so they can play in their living rooms without menacing the rest of us.

waste of time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35528880)

I think the whole thing is a waste of time. They really should just design a space in the dash that will accommodate ~10" tablet. That way the customer can bring whatever brand tablet they want into the car. Tablets have complete navigation and entertainment capabilities already. The audio can integrate with the car's stereo system via bluetooth or other method. Or if they provided a USB port, the customer will already have whatever adapter cable is needed for their preferred device. Tesla doesn't need to waste time "reinventing the wheel". Focus on making an electric car that people will actually buy to replace a gasoline car. Let the computer people handle the nav/entertainment stuff. And, never, never mix a system that can have 'apps' installed with the control system for the vehicle (engine, drive train, etc).

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Motion sensor boob apps! WOOT! (1)

RogueWarrior65 (678876) | more than 3 years ago | (#35530046)

Yeah so a motion sensor jiggly boob app. No, really, Officer.

On an electric car? (1)

uofitorn (804157) | more than 3 years ago | (#35531172)

Lots of predictable comments about the safety implications but I'm surprised nobody has questioned the sensibility of adding an unnecessary power consuming device to an electric vehicle.

Cars are about ADD-ONS (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 3 years ago | (#35536446)

Cars, like computers, are all about add-ons. For regular cars, it is about the motor, etc. With electric cars, you do not have that. Now, Tesla is enlisting the geek world. Real smart on their part.

They made one big mistake. They should create a special plug for the rear of these cars, along with a hitch. That way, trailers can be added to give distances. The hitch should provide not just communications, but most importantly, it should allow for enough DC to run the car, or at least charge it to some large amount. With that approach, they will encourage different trailers that will use different techs to compete against each other. I image the first one would be a Motor/generator combo that would also allow for some small amount of cargo. Later, it might be ultra-caps, or fuel-cells, etc. The trailers could then be bought our rented.
br.regardless, Tesla needs add-ons to involve loads of manufacturers.

Re:Cars are about ADD-ONS (1)

WorBlux (1751716) | more than 3 years ago | (#35538590)

The only place I've heard of putting the engine in the trailer is a few of the biogas cars, where the biogas generator was pulled as a trailer and the gas was piped into the engine to provide fuel. So there is precedent, but I'm still skeptical that such a design would see mass market applications.

Third party apps for cars? (1)

Geminii (954348) | more than 3 years ago | (#35547258)

* Flash headlights in sync to music

* Make beeping noise when reversing

* Transform into an autobot

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