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DRM To Be Used In Renault Electric Cars

timothy posted about a year ago | from the insert-coin-to-continue dept.

DRM 231

mahiskali writes with this interesting news via the EFF's Deep Links "The new Renault Zoe comes with a 'feature' that absolutely nobody wants. Instead of selling consumers a complete car that they can use, repair, and upgrade as they see fit, Renault has opted to lock purchasers into a rental contract with a battery manufacturer and enforce that contract with digital rights management (DRM) restrictions that can remotely prevent the battery from charging at all. This coming on the heels of the recent Trans-Pacific Partnership IP Rights Chapter leak certainly makes you wonder how much of that device (car?) you really own. Perhaps Merriam-Webster can simply change the definition of ownership."

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And all these computer parts in cars... (2)

MitchDev (2526834) | about a year ago | (#45424260)

are a good reason why again?

Re:And all these computer parts in cars... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45424348)

are a good reason why again?

Ssshhhhh! Quiet, you fool! Your phone, tablet, desktop, and/or laptop might hear you and report back to the Almighty Gadget Overlords! Just keep changing your life to make their existence easier and the might spare you for a while longer!

Re:And all these computer parts in cars... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45425042)

This is big eagle we have another black bag move in on our signal.

Re:And all these computer parts in cars... (5, Insightful)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about a year ago | (#45424614)

Plenty of good reasons. The real question is: Is closed source software safe? and the clear answer is "We have no idea... since it's closed. But it's probably not"

Re:And all these computer parts in cars... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45424914)

Plenty of good reasons

We'll just take your word for it then...

Re:And all these computer parts in cars... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45425852)

Is Open Source safe?, no, there is no software piece, whether open or closed source that is safe, they all got bug, they all got security problems

Re:And all these computer parts in cars... (4, Informative)

jimbolauski (882977) | about a year ago | (#45424956)

Here are just a few of the electronic parts in modern cars
Fuel Injection - the computer can monitor O2 and fuel precisely resulting in much better efficiency.
ABS - a computer senses when your car is skidding and rapidly pumps the brakes so you can still steer.
ESC/Traction control - when loss of steering or wheel spin is detected it will automatically start braking to enable steering and stop the skidding

Re:And all these computer parts in cars... (1, Interesting)

BronsCon (927697) | about a year ago | (#45425174)

The computer *CAN* tune the engine for better efficiency, but if you run too lean you risk grenading the engine. As a result, the computers are programmed to operate with a large (IMO too large) margin of safety, resulting in often *WORSE* fuel economy than older cars.

Re:And all these computer parts in cars... (1)

ericloewe (2129490) | about a year ago | (#45425238)

[Citation needed]

Last time I checked, engine efficiency has improved significantly since electronic engine control systems were introduced.

Re:And all these computer parts in cars... (-1, Troll)

BronsCon (927697) | about a year ago | (#45425326)

You need to check again. Fuel economy is no better now than it was in the 80's; in fact, there were cars that were popular in the 80's that got better mileage than some of today's hybrids.

Not providing a citation since you won't buy it anyway. Do your own research.

Re:And all these computer parts in cars... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45425362)

Yeah, and they weighed half as much as today's cars and were lethal to the occupants in a collision.

Re:And all these computer parts in cars... (-1)

BronsCon (927697) | about a year ago | (#45425594)

We use lighter materials than were used back then and you're more likely to be killed by the engine getting pushed into your lap by whatever you hit (which was allowed to happen by the "crumple zones") than you ever were by slamming into the steering wheel. There are fewer traffic deaths now than there were back then primarily because of seatbelt laws, which exist primarily because of the dangers posed by airbags when you're not wearing a seatbelt. Throw airbags into a 1990's beater and require idiots to wear seatbelts and see what happens; you gain 20lb in curb weight and have an overall safer vehicle.

Car companies aren't selling what's safer, they're selling what they can easily convince YOU is safer; selling what's actually safer would mean losing the sales they get when you total your crumple-box in a 5MPH bumper kiss.

Re:And all these computer parts in cars... (2, Informative)

BronsCon (927697) | about a year ago | (#45425444)

To be clear, before you quote any industry averages, you need to realize that those were achieved not by producing more efficient vehicles, but by ceasing production of less efficient vehicles. What street legal, gas-only, 4 wheel vehicle exists on the market today that can get better than 50MPG? In the 1990s, there was the Geo Metro [wikipedia.org] , weighing in at 42MPG; now we have hybrids on the market that can't touch that [greenhybrid.com] . Of the 19 hybrids listed in the chart on that page, 12 get WORSE gas mileage than a 1990's gas-only beater; the other 7 are made by Honda and Toyota. Where are the gas-only cars that get that kind of mileage today? Hell, where are the domestic hybrids that can do the same? Don't get my wrong, I'm not bashing imports at all; I love my Corolla, I just want to know when the fuck we're going to catch up to 20 years ago.

Re:And all these computer parts in cars... (2)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | about a year ago | (#45425554)

There are plenty of cars like that on sale in Europe. In the US there just isn't enough demand for a car with a 1.0 liter 65 hp engine.

Re:And all these computer parts in cars... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45425572)

That 90s Geo Metro was a death trap. Things like crumple zones, airbags, etc. all add weight. Tighter and tighter emissions controls don't usually bode well for mileage.

Cars have evolved to have far more comfort features - It's nearly impossible to find a mass produced car without A/C. Power windows and locks are nearly standard. Radios and better sounds systems.

A couple hundred pounds can make a difference over the long term as far as mileage goes.
NOx reduction precludes really lean operation
Catalytic converter efficiency requires mixtures slightly richer than stoich
People seem to reject less powerful cars. Is there any market for a car with 50 horsepower like the 3 cylinder Geo Metro?

It's almost apples and oranges to compare gas mileage on cars 20-30 years apart without also taking into consideration the differences.

Re:And all these computer parts in cars... (-1, Troll)

BronsCon (927697) | about a year ago | (#45425844)

Crumple zones don't add weight... They're created through the use of (more) thinner and lighter materials, strategically placed so that they push in more easily at first and provide more resistance as they crumple in on themselves. The result is the same amount of material used, overall, and a higher incidence of vehicles totaled in low-speed incidents, e.g. more money for car manufacturers. Air bags, on the other hand, actually provide some amount of actual safety, when combined with properly-fitted and actually-used seatbelts.

Regarding catalytic converters, let me ask you... if my car's emissions are 10% higher, per gallon of fuel burned, without a catalytic converter than they are with it (they are, it's been tested) but my mileage is 20% lower with than without, would that not indicate that, per mile, my vehicle actually pollutes less without the converter? e.g. if I get 30MPG with a converter and release 30ppm of hydrocarbons, but I could be getting 37.5MPG while releasing 33ppm of hydrocarbons, overall I'm burning less fuel and releasing less pollution over the same distance traveled. Since I'm traveling the same number of miles either way, this actually works out in the real world; though I do admit it falls apart when you assume the same quantity of fuel is burned -- there's a reason mileage matters. Mind you the 10% and 15% are estimates but they are very much based on real measurements from the 2000 Corolla I currently own. It's amazing what you can achieve when you stop restricting the flow of exhaust gasses to the point that the engine has to fight against the backpressure of its own waste products.

Also, screw NOx production, controlling combustion chamber temps (which is where your NOx compounds come from) so you don't blow your head through your hood precludes really lean operation, but today's engines could run considerably leaner than they are if people were willing to actually maintain them. The safety margin I mention wouldn't be required if people would spend $200 every 2 years on a pair of O2 sensors; and the fuel efficiency gains that would enable would save them at least double that in fuel costs.

Re: And all these computer parts in cars... (1, Informative)

jd2112 (1535857) | about a year ago | (#45425584)

Check again. Most new cars get 30+ highway mpg today, often with engines capable of over 300 HP. In the 80s that kind of horsepower was usually reserved for heavy duty trucks and exotic sports cars.
Smaller less powerful cars often reach 40 mpg highway, despite being significantly heavier than their 80's counterparts.

Re:And all these computer parts in cars... (2)

ericloewe (2129490) | about a year ago | (#45425700)

Cars are much heavier these days, for several reasons. This is tangential to the discussion, which is engine efficiency, which has absolutely improved.

Engine performance has increased with time, with fuel consumption going down. It's mostly heavier cars that account for the difference.

Re:And all these computer parts in cars... (1)

BronsCon (927697) | about a year ago | (#45425874)

Granted I didn't consider all aspects when I posted that... things could be much better now than they are, though. Why do the majority of hybrids on the market get shittier gas mileage than a 1990 Metro? Don't tell me it's because they're heavier; they're hybrids, the engine isn't even running most of the time!

Re:And all these computer parts in cars... (1)

ihtoit (3393327) | about a year ago | (#45425950)

I had a 1975 P plate Ford Escort Ghia 1300 block that got 43mpg (urban). I have yet to see a car in common use *today* that comes near that.

Re:And all these computer parts in cars... (2)

HornWumpus (783565) | about a year ago | (#45425304)

There was a generation of cars that 'burned lean' (very late 80s early 90s). They can't do it anymore as burning lean produces unacceptable levels of NOX.

But it's not a safety margin issue, it's an emissions issue. Less NOX, more CO2. All fuel injected, Oxygen sensor cars.

Re:And all these computer parts in cars... (1)

BronsCon (927697) | about a year ago | (#45425632)

You're both right and wrong. I'm not talking about running lean, I'm talking about running leaner than today's cars run. Too lean and you burn too hot, produce too much NOX, and eventually grenade the engine. There's a sweet spot right before combustion temps skyrocket, though; that's what I'm referring to.

Because sensors degrade over time and most people are morons who won't follow a maintenance schedule, an extra margin of "safety" is added, running the engine richer than necessary, to prevent this issue over time. Personally, I wouldn't mind spending $200 on a pair of O2 sensors every 2 years if it meant spending $200 less in fuel every year.

Re:And all these computer parts in cars... (5, Insightful)

NeverVotedBush (1041088) | about a year ago | (#45424984)

And if Renault goes out of business? What happens to the owners of cars and renters of batteries then? What about hackers?

I translated the original article and they don't seem to mention whether it is a deadman/watchdog kind of kill switch that needs to periodically hear from Renault that it is OK to continue to operate, or if it is a specific signal to stop operating that is only issued when that situation is deemed necessary.

If it is a "one-time" signal, then that is possibly open to spoofing/hacking and potentially very disrupting for legitimate owners in good standing if someone figures out how to remotely shut them down. That would be quite the coup for hackers if they could stop the entire fleet.

If it is a deadman kind of thing, one hopes that the company would continue to support sending that signal for as long as even a single car was still on the road and the owner was in good standing.

Either way, I don't think I would buy one of these.

Re:And all these computer parts in cars... (1)

just_a_monkey (1004343) | about a year ago | (#45425136)

And if Renault goes out of business?

Impossible! And if that should happen anyway the tax payers of all of the Union Européenne will come to ze rescue.

Renault won't go out of business. (2)

boorack (1345877) | about a year ago | (#45425516)

They'll just go screaming to government and receive big bailout. Plus some laws that will force everyone to purchase their crap. This is how modern business works - it too far from how communism operated in the old days.

Re:And all these computer parts in cars... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45425056)


all these computer parts in cars are yours except the battery
attempt no changing of the battery
use it for a limited time
use the car until the end of manufacturing of the battery and then discard your vehicle like a piece of recyclable plastic it is
(END OF TRANSMISSION)

Re:And all these computer parts in cars... (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | about a year ago | (#45425354)

Computers in cars are good. Transceivers in cars are bad.

Defensive move (1, Interesting)

jamesl (106902) | about a year ago | (#45424262)

Perhaps this has something to do with preventing people from using the battery longer than is safe. Because we know that when things catch fire or stop working the immediate remedy is to sue.

Re:Defensive move (1)

robmv (855035) | about a year ago | (#45424344)

I can use medicine longer than is safe (expired) and kill myself and a lot of people. Do you propose to embed DRM on it? There is no need for remote capabilities for that, just add a timer and disable it after their secure time of life. The problem with this case is not only the remote capabilities, but that they don't sell you a battery, they rent it to you, not a problem they give you an option to buy one or others are able to provide the same rental service and by definition of DRM I am pretty sure this will be something like "only Renault can provide that service"

Re:Defensive move - Informative update. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45424534)

...I can use medicine longer than is safe (expired) and kill myself and a lot of people....

The 'expired' date on medicines (and food) does NOT give a time after which they are unsafe to use.

Please concentrate, because this is slightly non-intuitive. The manufactures lobbied, not to provide this, but to provide a time UP TO WHICH it had been tested to be safe.

Now, those two times may be very similar for cases where an item spoils quickly - a cake or bread, for instance. But in many cases medicines (or food) can last essentially unchanged for many decades. In those cases a manufacturer will NOT test for several decades and try to find the maximum shelf life, but will test for, say, 5 years. That's a reasonable length of time, and he will be very happy if after 5 years a warehouse has to throw away perfectly good items which would have lasted another 15 years, and buy some new produce from him again.

If you are using something with an outdated shelf-life, consider the chemistry. For instance, a sealed jar of sodium bicarbonate isn't going to go 'off' even if it's 100 years old...

Re:Defensive move - Informative update. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45424788)

It's warehouse owner's or manager's job to order as much items as he really needs. If they expire after lying on the shelves for whole 5 years, than he can blame no one but himself for making an ultimately stupid order. That's how free market and capitalism works.

Of course you are right that some corporations try to lobby for bad laws, but your example is not the case.

Re:Defensive move - Informative update. (3, Funny)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about a year ago | (#45424992)

The 'expired' date on medicines (and food) does NOT give a time after which they are unsafe to use.

True story: I had a box of fungicide in my shed, and my wife wanted to throw it out because it was expired. I finally convinced her that it was unlikely that fungicide would rot.

Re:Defensive move - Informative update. (1)

Vanderhoth (1582661) | about a year ago | (#45425240)

I have that argument with my wife all the time over dry ingredient (flour, baking soda, sugar, salt), once she claimed our dish detergent had gone bad, and yet she insist on keeping spinach in the plastic container in the fridge until it's just a puddle of green ooze and gets mad at me if I throw it away when it starts to turn.

Re:Defensive move - Informative update. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45425580)

Soap products, or rather, liquid soap products can get a bit moldy. Fungus can propagate in it. If left unopened it has a shelf life of a decade or more.

Flour can deteriorate quickly when stored in humid conditions. Sugar will get lumpy but won't get moldy ever.

Salt will last until the sun dies, no matter how it gets stored.

Re:Defensive move - Informative update. (1)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | about a year ago | (#45425242)

...I can use medicine longer than is safe (expired) and kill myself and a lot of people....

The 'expired' date on medicines (and food) does NOT give a time after which they are unsafe to use.

Please concentrate, because this is slightly non-intuitive. The manufactures lobbied, not to provide this, but to provide a time UP TO WHICH it had been tested to be safe.

Now, those two times may be very similar for cases where an item spoils quickly - a cake or bread, for instance. But in many cases medicines (or food) can last essentially unchanged for many decades. In those cases a manufacturer will NOT test for several decades and try to find the maximum shelf life, but will test for, say, 5 years. That's a reasonable length of time, and he will be very happy if after 5 years a warehouse has to throw away perfectly good items which would have lasted another 15 years, and buy some new produce from him again.

If you are using something with an outdated shelf-life, consider the chemistry. For instance, a sealed jar of sodium bicarbonate isn't going to go 'off' even if it's 100 years old...

The US military has a program to test how long medicine is still effective after expiration. Since they typically stockpile significant amounts, it is expensive to throw out perfectly good, but past date, medicine. Not only do they need to buy more but they need to then ship it to warehouses around the work.

Not surprisingly, some of it from a PR perspective, i.e.e "We're giving our troops outdated medicine;" but also because it represents a revenue loss for suppliers. If ^H^H When the data leaks to the general populace their will be a push to take advantage of it; further cutting revenue as well as opening up manufacturers to lawsuits.

Re:Defensive move - Informative update. (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about a year ago | (#45425676)

So the antibiotic I got that was a refrigerated liquid with a 1 week expiration, that'd be fine left out in the sun on the counter for 6 months?

Re:Defensive move (2)

Chris Mattern (191822) | about a year ago | (#45424746)

I can use medicine longer than is safe (expired) and kill myself and a lot of people. Do you propose to embed DRM on it?

I am sure that as soon as it becomes practical, somebody will propose that, yes.

Re:Defensive move (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | about a year ago | (#45425380)

I know someone who developed smart medicine packaging. It basically integrates temperature over time and throws a red light when the medicine is expired.

Not exactly DRM. But close. It could burst a cell full of ruining agent when it expires.

Re:Defensive move (1)

jamesl (106902) | about a year ago | (#45425070)

Batteries don't expire according to the calendar. They expire according to how they are used.

Re:Defensive move (1)

robmv (855035) | about a year ago | (#45425126)

then add the logic for that, no need to be remote triggered

Re:Defensive move (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45424350)

simple answer : nope. It's about money. This isn't new btw. the Twizy had the same shitty contractual obligation linked to the "purchase" (in the losest of terms) of the car. You pay €13-15K for the car, then shell out 150 euros per month for the batterie ... for the whole lifetime of the car.
If Renault pulls an Apple on you and change the connector you're screwed and you have yourself a 13-15K piece of modern industry design.

Re:Defensive move (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45425482)

It makes sense when competing with gas/petrol and diesel vehicles - by making the battery an operating rather than capital expense, you make the experience closer to what customers are used to. From a manufacturing perspective the rental fees also offset some of the lost maintenance expenses too.

Re:Defensive move (2)

AK Marc (707885) | about a year ago | (#45425666)

Yeah, like DRM inside print cartridges is for the good of the user.

No Problem. (5, Funny)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year ago | (#45424264)

Ownership: 1. N. "The state or condition of being liable to an early termination fee in the event of returning, selling, or otherwise losing custody of an object."

2. (obsc./archaic) N. "Possessing the right of use or disposition of an object as one sees fit."

Re:No Problem. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45424532)

You own the car, but not the battery, they lease it to you. And no, i have no idea what kinds of morons take a deal like that.

Re:No Problem. (5, Interesting)

bob_super (3391281) | about a year ago | (#45424844)

People who realize that the main drag on buying electric cars (in countries with short commutes) is the lack of resale value because of battery life worries.

Under Renault's scheme, you don't own the battery, just the frame, and you can even do road trips by swapping batteries along the way without worries about getting yours back (intact or damaged). Because you don't own it and you can just go get a new one anytime, and so does the guy who'd like to spend 10k on your used car but is worried about having to buy a 7k battery a month later.

The DRM part probably comes from the fact that if you don't pay your lease, Europeans don't have the wild US repo guys. It takes a while to get the battery you don't own out of the car you do own via the legal system.

Re:No Problem. (1)

Cid Highwind (9258) | about a year ago | (#45425124)

Under Renault's scheme, you don't own the battery, just the frame

The worst of both worlds! In 5 years, instead of a car that's hard to sell because potential buyers don't know the condition of the battery, you'll have a car that's impossible to drive or sell because the battery was returned to Renault after the lease ended.

Re:No Problem. (1)

bob_super (3391281) | about a year ago | (#45425612)

Why would the lease end and the battery be returned? That's an odd idea. You want to stop milking people, go back to the XXth century ! :-)

The only way they could avoid being sued if they stopped providing the battery lease/support program would be to just give away the batteries (now useless for them, a nice tax writeoff).

Re:No Problem. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45425202)

Get out of here with your 'reasonable explanation.' We're trying to get all angry at DRM in our cars.

So wut? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45424282)

Renault is renting rather than selling. Non story, in spite of the alarmist posting.

Seriously (1)

g0bshiTe (596213) | about a year ago | (#45424320)

How long do you think it will take for someone to hack it and allow them to use whatever battery?

Look how long the much ballyhooed Bluray DRM took to get cracked.

Not to mention I wasn't aware Renault still made cars.

Re:Seriously (1)

wumbler (3428467) | about a year ago | (#45424646)

Contrary to media files and Bluray, a car is a bit more expensive and also critical.

If you 'hack' the car this will probably invalidate all sorts of manufacturer warranties. Also, insurance companies will use your 'hacking' as a reason to decline coverage or a payout after an accident.

Re: Seriously (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45424834)

Deny if you think that's good PR but you'll still be sued for fraud and have to pay out. What we need to do, is pass some new laws that add some big Treble Damages to the handling of such claim denials.

Re:Seriously (1)

SlippyToad (240532) | about a year ago | (#45424934)

Well, I'll use this as a reason to never, ever, ever buy a Renault car, ever.

I don't just mean this car. I mean any car of theirs.

Re:Seriously (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about a year ago | (#45424990)

But, honestly, would you have without this?

Boycotting a company you wouldn't have bought products from anyway is meaningless.

Re:Seriously (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | about a year ago | (#45425264)

I would guess that it's coming soon to a Nissan near you, and lots of people buy Nissans.

Re:Seriously (2)

AK Marc (707885) | about a year ago | (#45425696)

Should the "hack" that the owners did purning their Priuses into plug-in hybrids have been banned by law? This is no different. At least in the USA, bypassing DRM, in most cases, is a crime, even if you are allowed to do what the DRM is preventing you from doing. The crime is bypassing the DRM. It's like being arrested for resisting arrest. If you didn't arrest me for resisting arrest, then I couldn't have resisted arrest.

Re:Seriously (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about a year ago | (#45424776)

How long do you think it will take for someone to hack it and allow them to use whatever battery?

And then you will be subject to being sued for breaking the DRM. In fact, you probably sign something that says you won't do that, and if you do you consent to be sued.

You really don't think they have a bunch of lawyers making sure they've got your options limited, your nuts in a vice, and their hand on your wallet?

Re:Seriously (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45425938)

They sell plenty of cars just about everywhere except North America.

Not entirely new (5, Interesting)

cornjones (33009) | about a year ago | (#45424328)

This is obnoxious but not entirely new. My 2005 volvo has a 'feature' where the power steering pump can only be changed by volvo as the software 'needs an update' before the car will start again. Can't even have another garage do it, you need the volvo computers.

I guess it is just a way to ensure the dealership garages stay in business.

Re:Not entirely new (5, Informative)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about a year ago | (#45424666)

First off, that's what you get for buying a Volvo.
Second, you can reset the computer yourself. It's not that hard. Use the interwebs and all will be revealed. I had to deal with that mess on a friends 2007.

Now if you replace the engine or transmission... yea, you need to get some software off the piratebay to program the computer correctly. Done that to. That sort of crap should be illegal.

Re:Not entirely new (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | about a year ago | (#45424970)

And this kind of BS is why I've just about decided never to buy a car built in this millennium.

Re:Re:Not entirely new (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45425802)

So, what you're saying, is that you are willing to buy my salvage-title 1999 Geo Metro off of me?

Re:Not entirely new (1)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | about a year ago | (#45425288)

This is obnoxious but not entirely new. My 2005 volvo has a 'feature' where the power steering pump can only be changed by volvo as the software 'needs an update' before the car will start again. Can't even have another garage do it, you need the volvo computers.

I guess it is just a way to ensure the dealership garages stay in business.

BMW does this as well. Cost of new battery:$145 Cost of putting it in and programming car for new battery: $400 Buying aftermarket programing kit for $180 and DIY: Priceless (sort of)

Re:Not entirely new (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45425578)

This is why I laugh at the conspicuous consumption sheep idiots that buy benzs and bmw's. I work on cars for a living. I've handled a bunch of these.

They. are. over-priced. FECES.

I was a big chrysler guy before I gained my current level of experience. Basically right now, if it isn't honda, toyota, or even, yes hyundia/kia, it is a piece of dog shit.

Re:Not entirely new (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45425618)

There is an European vehicle maker which is worse:

If the battery dies, you can't just buy a new one and drop it in. The vehicle will not start, and have to be towed to a dealer to have the computer reprogrammed. The excuse is that their engine components are delicate in the voltage department so an unauthorized battery might fry the ECM, so the dealer has to be part of the picture.

rentership society (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45424334)

Where you can pay as much or more to only rent something in place of owning it. So now you toil your life away and eventually have absolutely nothing to show for it in the end.

It started with designed obsolescence and engineered failure, this is just the evolution of that strategy.

Re:rentership society (2)

EmagGeek (574360) | about a year ago | (#45424918)

We're simply returning to the feudal roots of modern civilization. Feudalism never really died anyway. It was just cleverly masked with the illusion of ownership.

Why would anyone buy it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45424364)

I would think that people buying cars with newer technology (Hybrids. Electric) would also tend to be people who do more research in the car, the dealer, the company, the warranty, etc.

I would assume that customers with that knowledge will just look elsewhere.

Re:Why would anyone buy it? (1)

Aaden42 (198257) | about a year ago | (#45425230)

Based on some of my friends who have bought hybrids & electrics, “Cause they’re, like green and stuff!” you would think wrong... I did more research buying my $16k Yaris than they did buying their $30k Prius or $35k Leaf.

So... (2)

Nrrqshrr (1879148) | about a year ago | (#45424368)

Looks like I still can't download a car... but I sure as hell will be pirating one!

But...but...but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45424412)

I read the article. And Renault said that locking the battery from being recharged would only be used in very rare circumstances.

So that's all right, then...

Isn't it...?

Re:But...but...but... (1)

NeverVotedBush (1041088) | about a year ago | (#45424866)

I suppose that depends on their nebulous definition of "rare"...

Might not be as evil as it sounds (5, Informative)

MtHuurne (602934) | about a year ago | (#45424760)

What I heard is that Renault realized that the cost of the battery is one of the main problems in electric car adoption, both because it is expensive and because it is unclear how its value will depreciate over time. Therefore, instead of letting people buy the car with the battery, they sell the car much cheaper without a battery and the battery can be leased. At least here it is clear the battery is not sold, unlike many products with DRM.

I haven't looked into this further, but a possible reason for refusing to recharge would be if someone stopped paying the lease of the battery but didn't return it. Or if the battery pack got stolen from the person who leased it.

Of course some people don't like the idea of any kind of kill switch existing at all, which I can understand. It is a sign of distrust and it is also a potential mode of failure (both technical and administrative). But making the battery a rental was done for a good reason here, not just out of corporate greed or control freaking.

Re:Might not be as evil as it sounds (2)

Rlindstr (2866673) | about a year ago | (#45424824)

"But making the battery a rental was done for a good reason here, not just out of corporate greed or control freaking." They could have offered it as an option and not a requirement then.

Re:Might not be as evil as it sounds (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45425656)

Who requires you to buy their cars?

Re:Might not be as evil as it sounds (1)

jemenake (595948) | about a year ago | (#45424886)

I haven't looked into this further, but a possible reason for refusing to recharge would be if someone stopped paying the lease of the battery but didn't return it. Or if the battery pack got stolen from the person who leased it.

Yeah... the same thing went through my head when I read the headline. They're probably selling the car and renting the battery, and being able to brick the battery is a lot easier than trying to get into the "deadbeat battery lessee repo business". And your comment about being able to brick stolen batteries or cars has parallels to things like the new "Activation Lock" in iPhones. Still, I won't be buying one of these things...

Re:Might not be as evil as it sounds (1)

Aaden42 (198257) | about a year ago | (#45425510)

because it is unclear how its value will depreciate over time

If there’s a leasing company prepared to offer a lease on the battery, you can be absolutely assured that either the above is untrue (IE they have a perfectly clear understanding of how it will depreciate) or else the lease cost is inflated such that that they’re making the purchase cost plus a tidy profit over a conservatively short estimated lifetime of the battery. If you’re required to continue making lease payments beyond that short estimate, then it’s all pure profit for the leasing company (with losses due to accident, premature failure, etc. coming out of it to some degree, but that’s all worked in).

No leasing company (nor insurance company nor anything else actuarial in nature) ever goes into business unclear about what their risks are. The consumer will pay more (perhaps significantly more) than the outright purchase price, but broken into smaller installments. Maybe that does indeed allow you to purchase something you couldn’t otherwise “afford” to own with a lump payment, but considering cars are generally purchased on installment credit anyways, I find it hard to believe most consumers with the least bit of credit wouldn’t work out better amortizing the battery purchase cost in with the rest of the car cost and paying it all down as one loan instead of a loan plus a lease.

If the lease terms include essentially an infinite warranty on the battery (IE keep paying, and you’ll have a working battery even if we have to replace your original), then that might serve as a desirable form of insurance for some buyers. In the aggregate, consumers are still paying more than the total cost of batteries plus replacements or else the leasing company goes out of business, but for a particular consumer (maybe one who drives hard or uses the car in harsh climates), it could conceivably work out to a wash or perhaps slight benefit.

Leasing can make financial sense if you don’t plan to “use up” all of the value in the leased property before you discard it, but if that’s the case, just lease the whole car. The leasing company wins on this, and Reno gets to “sell” more cars with a lower “price,” so they probably win as well, but it seems like a pretty clear loss for the “buyer.”

Leasing the battery on an electric because it’s the most expensive part and tends to wear out makes as much sense as leasing the engine in a gasoline car: It’s also the most expensive part & tends to be the part that needs the most expensive repairs as it wears out.

Re:Might not be as evil as it sounds (2)

ultranova (717540) | about a year ago | (#45425624)

What I heard is that Renault realized that the cost of the battery is one of the main problems in electric car adoption, both because it is expensive and because it is unclear how its value will depreciate over time.

But because that was a problem potentially solvable through technology, they decided to replace it with a much bigger problem that does not depend on insufficiently advanced technology to remain unsolvable. It's an utterly brilliant move that should definitely help make all electric cars seem suspicious. Well done, Renault. My lungs thank you, or would if they weren't choking on exhaust fumes.

Therefore, instead of letting people buy the car with the battery, they sell the car much cheaper without a battery and the battery can be leased.

Yes, that solves the problem. Renault is run by independently wealthy philanthropists, thus it can take the loss of leasing the battery for less than its monthly deprecation.

I haven't looked into this further, but a possible reason for refusing to recharge would be if someone stopped paying the lease of the battery but didn't return it. Or if the battery pack got stolen from the person who leased it.

Or to protect the customer from being preyed upon by third party battery manufacturers, who might tempt them with cheaper and/or better replacements. A weak soul might yield, thus committing the mortal sin of giving their money to these seducers rather than Renault, who it rightfully belongs to. It's a dangerous market full of such moral pitfalls, and Renault needs to protect its customers from being poached by competitors.

Oh well. We were already moving towards own-nothing culture by making everything disposable; I guess letting DRM spread and infect physical products is the next step. Won't it be glorious to return to the past where everything is owned by the King and we're all just leasing from him, subject to his goodwill which in turn depends on our continued obedience?

Oh lord would somebody please think about... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45424778)

...our anti-DRM car analogies!

Other hidden features (1)

ketomax (2859503) | about a year ago | (#45424798)

The other new feature that they are not marketing out loud, is the new BitTorrent client.

There will be US unions removing this (1)

erroneus (253617) | about a year ago | (#45424806)

On one hand, I can't disagree that encryption in automotive control systems is very important.... critical even. On the other hand, to potentially make cars more expensive to adjust, repair or update is an attack on the consumer and should not be tolerated. Copyright is abused far too often as the real cause and intent would not be allowed by most legislators.

GM does it better (1)

Animats (122034) | about a year ago | (#45424840)

The Chevy Volt comes with a 150,000 mile, 10 year warranty on the battery. GM started with 100,000 miles with the original Volt, 8 years, but then upgraded the battery technology in later models.

So this is not a technology problem.

This is nothing new (1)

chthon (580889) | about a year ago | (#45424890)

But I don't know if it was Citroen or Renault that my father did not want to buy, because one of them used non-standard screws and and so on, so if he wanted to work on his car, he had to buy an expensive set of tools from that specific car manufacturer. That was more than 30 years ago.

Re:This is nothing new (1)

Capt.DrumkenBum (1173011) | about a year ago | (#45425220)

30 years ago, it what probably because the car was metric. The American auto makers were very late to adopt metric fasteners. My 1989 Jeep is all Imperial nuts and bolts.

Re:This is nothing new (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | about a year ago | (#45425442)

My 1981 Pontiac had some of both.

Re:This is nothing new (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | about a year ago | (#45425440)

BMW uses secret decoder ring bolts. You used to have to get the tools off the tool truck for many dollars but now they are relatively common.

Re:This is nothing new (1)

Aaden42 (198257) | about a year ago | (#45425602)

There’s definitely something new here, at least under US law. If the manufacture uses unique screw heads, the market can produce a cheap replacement tool, and you’re good. See Apple & pentalobe screws on iPhones.

Assuming this is in fact interpreted as DRM (and we’re not just throwing that word around for the knee-jerk) and thus covered by DMCA, it would be illegal, not merely inconvenient for you to attempt to repair the problem if the battery were deactivated. Even if it’s not a copy protection system under DMCA, you would surely be required to sign a contract stating that you agreed not to attempt to circumvent the lockout and would face some sort of financial penalty for doing so.

So in bygone years, if you “knew a guy” who could get you the tools, you were good and everything was still legal. Enter the Internet, and it’s pretty much a given that you can buy compatible tools for far less than the manufacturer would seek to charge you for them. But throw a computer chip in the works, and all of a sudden you’re breaking the law, probably even to *talk* about it, much less attempt it.

Re:This is nothing new (1)

nukenerd (172703) | about a year ago | (#45425674)

Sounds like the Citroen Dyane, the ones that look like inverted deckchairs. Despite looking basic, they required all sorts of special tools (and I don't just mean spanners) even to do routine jobs. Just checking the brake shoes required peeing. The design was insane.

Simple, Don't Buy Them (1)

krelvin (771644) | about a year ago | (#45424910)

Not sure why this is hard.... If you don't want a DRM car, don't buy one.

Re:Simple, Don't Buy Them (4, Insightful)

geminidomino (614729) | about a year ago | (#45425232)

And If you don't want a cell phone with GPS, buy one that doesn't have it.

Welcome to the small picture.

Re:Simple, Don't Buy Them (0)

BronsCon (927697) | about a year ago | (#45425298)

Because so many people won't care, or won't realize what they're "buying" that other manufacturers will see the success and think it's okay to follow suit. Then they will. Then your choice will be DRM car or NO car.

Finally! Car analogies will make sense (1)

denis-The-menace (471988) | about a year ago | (#45425226)

Finally! Car analogies will make sense to Joe-Public because they will have lived through them.

If it's rented, not owned (2)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | about a year ago | (#45425316)

and they can disable it at any time, as owners are they liable for any damage it may cause? So when my Zoe leaves me for someone else and Renault fails to disable the charging and said new person is at fault in a serious accident, how long will it take for someone to argue Renault was at least partially at fault since they fails dot take action in a timely manner?

what's the big deal? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45425324)

it's a proprietary battery pack in an *electric car*. until there is a STANDARD which all battery packs in electric vehicles follow, i see no harm in a manufacturer requiring the use of only battery packs they approve. when such a standard does come to exist, those battery packs would then fall under magnuson-moss and other laws in the u.s. that prohibit manufacturers from requiring the use of their own replacement parts (to keep with the car theme.... air and oil filters fall under that category). if renault did the same to a standard 12v battery in a petro-powered automobile, then yea.. bitch cry complain because that would be wrong... this isn't.... not yet.

Problem Solved (1)

xednieht (1117791) | about a year ago | (#45425342)

Don't buy Renault.

DRM not possible in my ride (1)

bobdehnhardt (18286) | about a year ago | (#45425494)

I own a 1980 Triumph TR-8. No ABS, anti-lock, traction control, air bags, EFI (it's carbureted), bluetooth, or GPS; therefore, no computers. The most modern thing in it is the stereo, a Clarion from 1993. It's even got manual door locks and windows. Analog clock. Mechanical speedo, tach and odometer.

I'd like to see them try to apply DRM to it.

Sometimes, being a partial Luddite can be a good thing.

Oh, yeah, it's a real kick to drive....

Re:DRM not possible in my ride (1)

Ksevio (865461) | about a year ago | (#45425648)

It's not possible for there to be DRM in my chair either, but that doesn't really add much to the conversation. Sure we could add digital locks to your car, but the issue is with new cars and if it's going to be a trend.

Car Museum (20 Years from now) (1)

Like2Byte (542992) | about a year ago | (#45425908)

Father: See that, son! That's a picture of Renault.
Son: Renault? Who were they?
Father: Who? Renault?
Son: Yeah.
Father: It was a car company. They went out of business screwing their customers over.

DRM + GPS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45425918)

Great idea.

when the car is in going by a shanty full of people with spears and stones, it will suddenly shut down and say "please register your vehicle or it will be unable to proceed. please insert benjamins on the tape player or I start playing hannah montana at top volume on your ass"

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