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Why I think Tesla is building throwaway cars (syonyk.blogspot.com)
585 points by Shivetya on Mar 6, 2016 | hide | past | web | favorite | 361 comments



One of the things that makes a car valuable is having a healthy aftermarket. It looks like, from this article anyway, Tesla is doing anything they can to make sure there is no aftermarket for their vehicles.

To me, a car that you can't service yourself is worthless. A car that needs the manufacturer's permission to activate is not your car--it's owned by the manufacturer. And, when the manufacturer places a threatening call to the "owner" after he tries to get diagnostic information from his own car [1], well that's so far beyond crossing the line it's not even funny.

I think we're going to start seeing "jailbroken" Teslas soon after they start falling out of their warranty period. I'm surprised it hasn't happened already. You'd think that out of the thousands of people who have already bought one of these cars, there might be one out there with both the skills and desire to actually own what they paid for.

1: http://gas2.org/2014/04/14/road-slightly-traveled-hacking-te...


You'd think that out of the thousands of people who have already bought one of these cars, there might be one out there with both the skills and desire to actually own what they paid for

On the other hand, it could just be that those who want to really own their cars would not consider buying a Tesla anyway, and those who have the skills are too scared of the legal aspects. I think at the moment, electric cars are still somewhat niche and don't really appeal to the demographic who would be modding their cars. The aftermarket community for existing cars basically doesn't care about emissions --- one of the biggest attractions of an electric. As a bit of a car-geek myself, I'll admit that electrics are rather "boring" and for the same reason I'm not so interested in the newer super-computerised vehicles either; it's the noisy, smelly, smoky, aggressive, obnoxious-mechanical-monster nature of petrol/diesel engines that's the really "fun" part. Batteries, electronics, and motors just don't evoke quite the same feeling.


At least for me, it's not about souping the car up, it's about doing repairs and maintenance myself because a) it's cheaper and b) it's more convenient.

If I knew I was going to have to drive a car to the dealership anytime something went wrong, I would not buy that car. It's a big hassle (especially if the dealership is any distance away) and almost always outrageously expensive for anything outside of warranty. And if it's something that I can't do myself, I'd rather take it to a cheaper local mechanic I know and trust.

According to the article, Teslas only have service manuals available in Massachusetts (and there only on an extremely expensive subscription basis), no independent shops, and doesn't have a working OBD-II port. That sounds like a nightmare to me.

Granted, it's way out of my price range anyway. ;)


Same here. We recently bought a second hand Prius at an official dealer (because new is unreasonably expensive, we do care about emissions, and I think we got some warranty from the official dealer). Half a year later, the brakes need to be replaced. Turns out not to fall under the warranty, whereas we think it's unreasonable to sell a car with brakes that need to be replaced that soon. Repair at the official dealer is pretty expensive.

So my wife takes it to our old, trusty local mechanic, and their repairs are a lot cheaper. I forgot if they could also advise us on whether this was reasonable in the first place.

I think my mother also often ended up at an independent mechanic after getting disappointed by official dealers. (My dad always drove leased company cars so didn't have to worry about this stuff. I know nothing about cars (but I'm glad my wife does).)


I bought a used car around 2 years ago and went to the dealer because of a problem and was shocked when he informed me about (obviously after selling the car) what everything doesn't fall under the warranty. It's probably easier to say what falls under which is the motor and transmission. Otherwise they bring the argument with wear parts which I can understand for the brakes.

It's unlucky that they sold you a car where the brakes were soon to be replaced but they are really wear parts. However I was suprised to hear that also most of the electrical stuff doesn't fall under warranty. I'm from Germany so it might be different in other countries.


Among many, many other models both in and out of production, Teslas are not the best choice for hot rodders. Got it.


You don't have to be a car mod enthusiast to have a desire to use a business you trust and have a good relationship with to repair the property you own.


I would wager that the vast majority of non-enthusiasts do not have a "business they trust and have a good relationship with" that isn't the dealer.


That wager might go pretty bad for you - there is a real lot of independent shops which aren't dealers and they have a lot of business. Moreover, these shops are often significantly cheaper than dealers with same or higher speed and reliability. I've seen dealer trying to change me several times more for the same job than independent shop - dealers seem have their set prices and enough business "by default" not to care about openly overcharging me. And I don't have particularly bad dealer - they are generally fine, except for being prone to quoting outrageous prices for some things.

Of course, there are also crooks out there, so challenge is finding good shop, but once you did, there's absolutely no reason to not do business with them except for things like recalls.

And, of course, for older out-of-warranty cars - which is the vehicle of choice for a real lot of "non-enthusiasts" who just don't have money to buy a shiny new car that loses 20% of value right after driving off the dealer parking lot - there's absolutely no reason to prefer dealers if you have a competent independent shop.


I wasn't arguing against independent shops, im well aware that they are capable of preforming excellent service. But the reputation of the shady mechanic exists for the same reason the reputation of the shady used car dealer exists. Cars are complex, and the average person doesn't have enough time to fully understand them. That is why YourMechanic was able to just raise 24 million in funding (I believe it was that much, I am on my phone right now) there is a huge market of people that don't want to do the research, or put up with the perceived risk of finding an independent mechanic.


I think you have no idea what you're talking about. There's an independent repair shop just down the street from me that has as much business as they can handle (they smartly located themselves right outside a major employer's campus, so it's a convenient location for all the people who work there). Everyone knows dealerships are expensive. With the average age of new cars being over 11 years now (according to the article), most people are not going to be taking their cars to dealerships when there are cheaper places to go.


And how many of those people would take their car there after they switch jobs? I'm betting very few. Also things like tires and oil changes are different than major repairs.


No, 'Grishnakh was right. You have no idea what you're talking about. If a particular repair is under warranty, then sure, one gets it fixed at the dealer. Otherwise, especially for a "major" repair, why pay 40% more for a mechanic: with decades less experience, who doesn't have an interest in the business, who won't speak to the customer, and who will be replaced by somebody else when the customer needs another repair next year?


This is a government installation. People don't switch jobs here very much.

Tires and oil changes are the two biggest service jobs on cars these days, since everything else is so reliable. But on a 10-year-old car, it's entirely possible to do more substantial repairs thanks to the OBD-II service tools that are available. You can get one of these scanners for $100 now (or less for a crappier one), look up any codes thrown by the ECU, which will tell you exactly which sensor has gone bad. As long as the manufacturer isn't intentionally making it so you need a dealership tool to do stuff, these cars can be quite a bit easier to work on that older ones since they tell you what's wrong.


I'm well aware of that, I've personally changed my own oil, replaced the starter on an ex's car, replaced my mass airflow sensor, and have my own OBD-II scanner (crappy one).

I'm not sure why this thread turned into multiple attempts to convince me that independent mechanics are a good value that can do the same or better work than a dealer. I never claimed they couldn't, I stated that I don't think most people have a trusted mechanic that isn't the dealer. So far I've gotten a lot of down votes, anecdotes, but no data. I very well could be wrong, I was stating my opinion based on what I've seen and experienced.

Look at YourMechanic, it's filling a need in the market to link independent mechanics to car owners. It is using a verified user trust model to rate them. If the vast majority of people had trusted mechanics they wouldn't be gaining much traction in the market.


>I'm not sure why this thread turned into multiple attempts to convince me that independent mechanics are a good value that can do the same or better work than a dealer. I never claimed they couldn't

Yeah, I'm not sure how that happened.

>I very well could be wrong, I was stating my opinion based on what I've seen and experienced.

I'm not sure there's any easy way of proving it one way or the other really. Personally, I still see plenty of independent mechanic businesses; I live down the street from two of them now, at a prior residence a year ago in a totally different state, I lived down the street from another one that was constantly busy and had people working there at very late hours to get all the work done. Then why I go to dealerships (I was shopping for a car a while back) I find them all closed all day Sunday, and closed early on other days. If your service department were busy, you wouldn't be closed on the weekends.

So again, I don't think we can prove anything either way here, and I'm not so sure about "the vast majority of people having trusted mechanics", but I really don't think that the vast majority of car owners use dealerships for all their service. I think that people use them when their car is brand-new (because it's covered by warranty), and I think owners of not-too-old luxury brands (BWM, etc.) probably use dealerships more often, however I think people who own cars that are 10+ years old probably rarely use dealerships, if ever. People who have less money to spend on cars, and who buy used cars (or keep cars a long time) I believe are naturally going to look for better deals for car service, and that's going to rule out stealerships very quickly.

As for YourMechanic, I hadn't heard of that, but it sounds like a great idea. But if it's successful, I think that shows that a lot of people want a trusted (non-dealership) mechanic, even if they don't currently have one. Also, don't forget, a lot of people these days are more mobile, and move around from time to time, so they'll need a new mechanic when they move.


I found a datasource, it's dated (2011) it shows people trust their "shop" which could be a dealer, chain, or independent. With a 37% split going to independent and 30% to dealerships. I think you are right that we probably wont find any data on if people have a trusted mechanic since this also shows that there is a lot of price shopping going on.

But with all that said, in the broader conversation I'd say I was wrong. Even if you don't have a trusted independent mechanic more people prefer that option, even if they use a different one every time, over the dealership.

http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/news/2011/12/survey-consu...


My whole family brings ur cars to a single shop. We trust them and the prices are good. My wife and I go there even for oil changes, even after we moved two towns over. They are also the highest-rated shop in the region, so we're not the only ones who trust them.


This does not comport with my experience, but I'm not sure there are reliably studies on the matter.


"I think at the moment, electric cars are still somewhat niche and don't really appeal to the demographic who would be modding their cars."

I would disagree, there have been a lot of electric car hotrods and DIY innovation happening for years, like the White Zombie and others linked below:

http://news.discovery.com/autos/drive/worlds-fastest-electri...

http://www.greencarreports.com/news/1079928_fastest-electric...

http://jalopnik.com/the-electric-converted-1963-zelectric-vw...

More: http://www.diyelectriccar.com/forums/#/forumsite/20977

https://speakev.com


> The aftermarket community for existing cars basically doesn't care about emissions --- one of the biggest attractions of an electric.

You've clearly never been behind the wheel of a Tesla. Please go drive one. Emissions were literally the very last reason for buying the car for me.


Between the touch screen control screaming "Look! Cool! Future! Oh yeah we had to sacrifice tactile feedback and usability when driving while ignoring fifty years of safety research but Cool!", trying to be a fast car but only really good for 0-60 in a straight line (and literally incapable of doing five laps at Laguna Seca without overheating and going into limp home mode), no OBD-2 port as another poster pointed out meaning you can't even fire up Torque to check an error code before having to go to the garage, bad resale value as this article points out, literally having your head touch the car roof if you're over five foot eight and sitting in the back, etc.: can you please give us a rational reason except zero tailpipe emissions for buying a Model S over, say, a Mercedes S-class or a BMW 7-series?

I completely get that there are irrational reasons for buying things, not least of which is "OMG teh shiny future!!1!", but these aren't really suitable for debate here because they're so hugely subjective.

Edit: having read through entire TFA: Tesla will even refuse to sell you parts, and call you talking about industrial espionage, if you try and tinker with their cars. Seriously, WTF?


>can you please give us a rational reason except zero tailpipe emissions for buying a Model S over, say, a Mercedes S-class or a BMW 7-series?

Well, here in Australia, MB and BMW are ripping their customers off with prices nearly TRIPLE the US price. Tesla has priced their Model S similarly to US. So yet another reason, to add to the excellent list already posted, is the better pricing.

On top of that, I have no idea why you think Teslas lack tactile feedback (or at least are worse than BMW 7s), are only good in straight line speed, or have headspace problems in the back if you are 5'8".


> Oh yeah we had to sacrifice tactile feedback

Nonsense. You need tactile feedback while driving. You will not be using the center console while driving. You will not even be looking at it. All of the stuff you need while driving is tactile.

> trying to be a fast car but only really good for 0-60 in a straight line

LOL. I sense hurt feelings.

> no OBD-2 port as another poster pointed out

Why would it need an OBD-2 port when it has an API?

http://docs.timdorr.apiary.io/#

> bad resale value as this article points out

Article is wrong. The prices for used vehicles are quite good. Confirm yourself.

> literally having your head touch the car roof if you're over five foot eight and sitting in the back

Get a Model X if Model S is too small for you.

> can you please give us a rational reason except zero tailpipe emissions for buying a Model S over, say, a Mercedes S-class or a BMW 7-series?

I'm not a huge fan on the S, prefer the X.

1. Twice the storage of an ICE vehicle. No engine block = FRUNK.

2. Safety. It is the safest vehicle on the road. Period. Because there is no engine block slamming in your face during a front-end collision.

3. I never have to go to a dirty gas station again. I fill up at home.

4. No oil changes. No transmission failures. Fewer moving parts = less maintenance needed.

5. American designed, American built, no $$$ going to questionable oil interests.

6. That center console? Fucking awesome. Enjoy your 8 inch joke.

7. Over-The-Air software updates that actually add useful features. No, I don't need to go to the service center to update my software. LOL!

8. It drives itself? Autopilot! Nice!

9. It parks itself. Even parallel parking. Will even open the garage, drive itself in, and then close the garage after itself.

10. Supercharger network. Free juice all over the country and beyond. Fills up in 20-30 min.

I can keep going, but I think you get the gist.

> Tesla will even refuse to sell you parts

Ok. Ever hear of eBay?

> call you talking about industrial espionage, if you try and tinker with their cars

Don't fuck with cars that drive themselves. Please.

> Seriously, WTF?

I wouldn't mind having more control over software updates and generally having more control over the vehicle, but I understand why they made the decisions they did. If you don't, it's because you were never driven in an autonomous vehicle.

Tesla FTW.


> > trying to be a fast car but only really good for 0-60 in a straight line

> LOL. I sense hurt feelings.

A Model S weighs something like 4700lbs, depending on battery? I suppose it depends on one's definition of "fast car", but I personally consider more than straight line performance, and lighter cars have a distinct advantage. I agree with Lotus's Colin Chapman: "performance through low weight".

> > no OBD-2 port as another poster pointed out

> Why would it need an OBD-2 port when it has an API? http://docs.timdorr.apiary.io/#

Because OBD-2 is a standard with an entire ecosystem built around it.

> 2. Safety. It is the safest vehicle on the road. Period. Because there is no engine block slamming in your face during a front-end collision.

That is an advantage (also, it's on the heavy side and mass helps a lot) and it certainly tests well in crashes. IIHS statistics for injury and medical payments don't however support your statement that it is the "safest vehicle on the road". Porsche's 911 and Boxster have lower Personal Injury Claim frequencies (and the Boxster doesn't even have a roof!).

> 4. No oil changes. No transmission failures. Fewer moving parts = less maintenance needed.

There might be less maintenance needed on some of the drivetrain leading to a more convenient service interval, but there still is maintenance (tires, brakes, brake fluid, HVAC, battery, suspension, steering, etc.) to be done, and the longer service interval might make it more likely for problems to increase in severity before they're noticed. It's kind of a moot point, modern cars have overall excellent reliability on the drivetrain; luxury cars tend to have problems with the electrical system and associated accessories, especially after the lease period is up, and Tesla is no different.

> 5. American designed, American built, no $$$ going to questionable oil interests.

Overall design and final assembly, perhaps, but are you saying that the subsystem vendors are American too, to some degree larger than other manufacturers?

> 10. Supercharger network. Free juice all over the country and beyond. Fills up in 20-30 min.

It's not free, it's incorporated into the cost of the purchase.


Porsche's 911 and Boxster have lower Personal Injury Claim frequencies

My first thought at this statistic was to wonder if these drivers are less likely to survive to file...


Hah, yeah, it's hard to draw deep inferences from that data. They (IIHS) do have limited death statistics broken down by model, and Porsche is never near the upper end. The data is actually pretty interesting to pour over: you see some obvious trends (do not drive a small car) and some weird outliers (Nissan Titan has an usually high death rate for a pickup).


> A Model S weighs something like 4700lbs, depending on battery? I suppose it depends on one's definition of "fast car"

What? Fast means fast. The Model S goes fast. It has better performance than cars it competes with, like BMW 5/7 series, etc.

Is it the fastest car? No. And why would it need to be? It's a luxury sedan, not a race car.

> Because OBD-2 is a standard with an entire ecosystem built around it.

It's an absolutely horrible standard and that entire ecosystem should die. Every car should have an open API that is easily accessible using any computer, rather than specialized equipment.

> IIHS statistics for injury and medical payments don't however support your statement that it is the "safest vehicle on the road".

Has anyone actually ever died in a Tesla? I believe one person did.

http://electrek.co/2015/12/22/man-dies-tesla-model-s-crash-d...

That was a couple of months ago. He was hit by a dump truck.

> luxury cars tend to have problems with the electrical system and associated accessories, especially after the lease period is up, and Tesla is no different.

I'll give you that one.

> but are you saying that the subsystem vendors are American too, to some degree larger than other manufacturers?

Yes. Because Elon Musk is pulling a Henry Ford. They're more vertically integrated than any other car company. I'm not sure that's a good thing ... but it does support my point.

> It's not free, it's incorporated into the cost of the purchase.

Well, yeah. Someone has to pay for it to get built and to maintain it. It's free in the sense that I don't have to explicitly pay for it. It's just included and I can use it as much as I want.

The Model S and Model X are excellent cars. Not perfect, but excellent. There's a reason they're eating up the entire luxury market.

http://www.fool.com/investing/general/2016/02/06/can-you-gue...


> Every car should have an open API that is easily accessible using any computer, rather than specialized equipment.

This is the excellent statement but coupled with the threat of being kicked off the warranty (which means no repairs whatsoever since no independent shops) and being assaulted by lawyers with charges of industrial espionage if you veer a little to the left or to the right does not exactly make it a model citizen. Hacking culture is all about doing things manufacturer did not think of. Yes, sometimes that can lead to screw-ups, including ones worthy of voiding the warranty, but so far it seems like Tesla is in full "besieged castle" mode, and even docs you mention are unofficial - which means a) they could change anytime and b) you could be charged with espionage for using it anyway.


There are a few guys hacking away at Tesla cars. I would definitely describe the relationship between them and Tesla as tense and there was even some drama recently over the weekend. It's definitely not where I would like things to be, but out of all the car companies, I think Tesla is the most open to this sort of thing.


> What? Fast means fast. The Model S goes fast. It has better performance than cars it competes with, like BMW 5/7 series, etc.

It goes fast in a straight line, perhaps better than it's competitors. It's also portly compared to some of it's competitors, and not as nimble. Fast in a straight line is boring.

> It's an absolutely horrible standard and that entire ecosystem should die. Every car should have an open API that is easily accessible using any computer, rather than specialized equipment.

OBD-2 certainly has its warts, but it's an interoperable industry standard. I have a hard time believing that an OBD-3 or a legacy-free de novo interoperable standard would be any less wart-free. Some warts come from interoperability compromises, some from the industrial constraints, some from the bureaucracy. I'll take an interoperable standard over any proprietary API, no matter how nice that API might be.

> Has anyone actually ever died in a Tesla? I believe one person did.

Amazingly, this is not a unique feat! There's actually a growing list of cars that are without recorded deaths: http://www.iihs.org/iihs/sr/statusreport/article/50/1/1

> Yes. Because Elon Musk is pulling a Henry Ford. They're more vertically integrated than any other car company. I'm not sure that's a good thing ... but it does support my point.

I don't see any basis for your claim that Tesla is more vertically integrated than any other car company, and I don't buy it. A DDG search pulled up this short list of Tesla subsystem vendors, and there are plenty that are obviously not 'Murican: http://moneymorning.com/2014/05/08/tesla-suppliers-list-thes...

In fact, Monroney stickers I see online put the domestic parts content of a Tesla Model S at 50%, here's one: http://www.midway-group.com/inventory/2015-tesla-model-s-p85...

> Well, yeah. Someone has to pay for it to get built and to maintain it. It's free in the sense that I don't have to explicitly pay for it. It's just included and I can use it as much as I want.

A DDG search showed that some earlier Model S had a $2000 option to gain access to the Supercharger network, so that would seem to be a good estimate for the cost. The Monroney above shows it as "included", which I would say counts as explicit even though the price isn't transparent.

> The Model S and Model X are excellent cars. Not perfect, but excellent. There's a reason they're eating up the entire luxury market.

They certainly have a dedicated fanbase that should be the envy of any car company, and I understand why they are popular as peppy urban people movers. I personally find them soulless, but Tesla drivers would probably find the cars I enjoy to be vulgar and uncomfortable :)

As to the "eating up the entire market" article, my criticism there is that the other luxury marques have a more diverse product line with considerable overlap. Saying that the Model S is the single best selling car model in that grouping isn't informative if the cohort who would consider a Model S are buying a mixture of BMW models.


Why isn't the API doc at api.tesla.com? Can you link to the official source from Tesla that welcomes modders?


> Nonsense. You need tactile feedback while driving. You will not be using the center console while driving. You will not even be looking at it. All of the stuff you need while driving is tactile.

Right, because nobody has ever adjusted the air conditioning or radio while driving...


> Right, because nobody has ever adjusted the air conditioning or radio while driving...

There's a button on the wheel you press for voice commands ...


And a NLP interface there? Or I'd have to remember which magic incantation makes it colder and pronounce it with the right accent (woe is me if I'm not native English speaker)? Voice interfaces suck for these things, if all you need is to do a small movement by you hand, and instead you have to get into a conversation with a dumb robot.


> 5. American designed, American built, no $$$ going to questionable oil interests.

I don't see what that has to do with America, except for 'Murica f'yeah

> 7. Over-The-Air software updates that actually add useful features. No, I don't need to go to the service center to update my software. LOL!

ROFL

> 8. It drives itself? Autopilot! Nice!

Don't many cars have that to the limited degree already allowed by law?


> I don't see what that has to do with America, except for 'Murica f'yeah

I enjoy buying locally built products when possible, especially when those products are superior to anything else available.

> ROFL

Get off the floor and tell me what's so funny.

> Don't many cars have that to the limited degree already allowed by law?

No. Model S and Model X are the only cars available that drive themselves. Some other cars have cruise control that will stay within the lane, but it won't change lanes, break, or accelerate based on traffic conditions.


Search "hack car freeway wifi" in the search engine of your choice. Granted, not a Tesla, but is that only a matter of time and willpower or actually supporting your argument?


> Granted, not a Tesla, but is that only a matter of time and willpower or actually supporting your argument?

Supporting my argument. Tesla sits on an encrypted VPN, good luck with that. Maybe if you break into Tesla HQ?

You're better off going after the bluetooth (the key fobs/car are bluetooth) or NFC (the key fobs/car have NFC in case batteries die in fobs). There's also an ethernet port of sorts in the vehicle, although it has been disconnected with latest firmware.

Anyway, when it comes to Tesla, you'll have better chances of hacking into it with physical access. You are definitely not getting access to my car with "wifi".


> Tesla sits on an encrypted VPN, good luck with that

Well, if you say so. Still, what about the locally built products? Oil isn't the only import needed for a traditional car.

The ethernet port, bluetooth/NFC key fobs all the chips, are made in china no doubt, maybe even many engine parts. Recources are exploited from mines outside America under bad conditions. The energy to load the battery is generated partially from fracked fossil fuel. America supports Saudis for a bit more than just oil and they sure don't care what the tax money was generated from. * In 2014, about 27% of the petroleum consumed by the United States was imported from foreign countries.* [1]. Half the American designers are probably immigrated from India and China.

Our visions of the great US of A diverge a little.

[1] https://www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.cfm?id=32&t=6


> Why would it need an OBD-2 port when it has an API? > http://docs.timdorr.apiary.io/#

Why would any web site support HTTP when you can use their proprietary protocol, only unofficially documented by some random dude by reverse engineering.


I guess you never had to adjust the temperature while driving? The interface for doing that in the Tesla is horrible, those things should have never been put on a touchscreen.


Obvious shill


I'm guessing you've never driven a Model S?

If you like the way a high-end electric car drives, there's little comparison between a Model S and the BMW/Benz.

And Tesla has completely changed the paradigm of car design and manufacturing. The fact that it can add self-driving to its cars with an over-the-air software update is amazing.

People might buy for the zero emissions but they stay for the ride.


The biggest reason to buy an Model S is to project an image, which is, I'm rich and into technology.


Accidentally melting your power electronics doesn't activate your smelly, smoky, aggressive, obnoxious monster senses?


That's just a failure mode, not the normal "nature of the beast" as is the case with non-electric cars.


nah but tuning carbs makes me all bothered. like debugging bothered.


Sweating and profanity, too?


That's silly. The aftermarket doesn't exist for electrics because so few electrics exist.

People at hacking LEAFs already.


I come from a country where there is no emissions-related tax whatsoever. You could be driving a beast which emits 500g of C02/km travelled and you would pay the same tax as someone who drives a prius. The appeal of electric cars is their absolutely insane acceleration, at least in Teslas case. If I was to buy one, that would be the only reason why.


you know now i really wanna see a LS1 swapped tesla.


No, man, just put a turbo on it! /j


Turbo button, 386 style. :P


> To me, a car that you can't service yourself is worthless. A car that needs the manufacturer's permission to activate is not your car--it's owned by the manufacturer.

How many cars sold in 2016 can be activated without the manufacturer's permission? If you break your engine control module, who, if not the original manufacturer, can provide you a new one that works for your car?

(Serious question, no sarcasm.)


> How many cars sold in 2016 can be activated without the manufacturer's permission?

What do you mean with manufacturer's permission? The parts are sold independently of the vehicle as far as I'm aware. You can buy loads of ECUs for modern cars on the internet and there is no consequence of installing it.


Can you get the source code for the ECU? You cannot.


Armin is right; further more, I suspect a lot of technology like MegaSquirt will continue to improve, and we'll have (thank god) aftermarket ECMs to put into these cars to give the user more control over the vehicle.

We can only hope that a similar movement to Linux on PCs builds up steam up in the automotive space, as many of us like being able to understand, adapt, and improve on our vehicles.


Until you need verified checksums to drive on a public road.

Using public infrastructure is a privilege, not a right.


If you're going to go down that route (no pun intended), why not eventually ban everything but officially certified driverless cars from public roads? I suppose it gets into a bit of a philosophical question at some point --- some people just want to get from A to B as quickly as possible (with whatever currently technology allows), while others actually enjoy the driving experience and having control over their vehicle. Some might want the former at times, and the latter at some other times. The former is certainly going to be much safer than the latter, but you give up freedom. Personally, I prefer the latter even if it means I could get killed at any moment because the risk is all part of the experience; not only of driving but really just life itself.


> If you're going to go down that route (no pun intended), why not eventually ban everything but officially certified driverless cars from public roads?

I agree. That's the way its going to go. People kill 40K/people a year in the US simply driving, and injure/maim hundreds of thousands. There's no way self-driving cars aren't better than that.

Want to build your vroom vroom car? Own the entire stack down to the atoms? You'll get to drive it at track day at a track, not on a public road.

> Personally, I prefer the latter even if it means I could get killed at any moment because the risk is all part of the experience; not only of driving but really just life itself.

Agree, but that sentiment will die a slow death over the next few decades, just as those fond of the horse and buggy are no longer with us.


There likely exists a larger stockpile of fairly well-engineered manually driven cars than there were buggies during the advent of the automobile. This existing stock will likely buffer the robotic revolution of our roads somewhat. Also, I think the convenience delta from self-driven car to "driverless" car is smaller than that from keeping living horses to regular maintenance of an automobile.


> Also, I think the convenience delta from self-driven car to "driverless" car is smaller than that from keeping living horses to regular maintenance of an automobile.

The number of teenagers with driver's licenses is the lowest in history. Compound that with the 65+ cohort aging quickly, and older drivers being dangerous drivers (lower reaction time).

It's not a convenience delta. Its an experience and safety delta. We are talking tens of billions (if not more) of dollars in savings from taking the human out of the loop.


> The number of teenagers with driver's licenses is the lowest in history.

The value of such a statistic is questionable given that the minimum age for a license has increased of late.



From your first link: "Getting a driver's license after turning 16 years old has become a lengthier process in recent years, as regulators instituted more safety hurdles. That has also led to a sharp decline in teenagers who are driving."

That said, this is going sideways because I didn't make a complete and clear post originally. Never mind.


> People kill 40K/people a year in the US simply driving, and injure/maim hundreds of thousands.

Not true. People kill 40K people by crashing their cars into them, not by "simply driving". Make crashing your car into people illegal and punish that. No reason to ban driving.


> Make crashing your car into people illegal and punish that. No reason to ban driving.

Except that people don't crash their cars deliberately, it's unintentional and unavoidable.

There's no point making it illegal to do something that only happens accidentally. People will still do it accidentally.

The only thing you can do is mandate changes to the system which remove the possibility that those mistakes will be made. Driverless cars are one possible change that we could make.


> There's no point making it illegal to do something that only happens accidentally. People will still do it accidentally.

And people can still speed unintentionally by forgetting to check the speedometer every so often, but speeding is still illegal.

Not stopping at a stop sign or red light for a right turn is illegal, but people often times make "California Stops" unintentionally.


You appear to be advocating troublesome technological solution to a social problem (people going "screw emmisions, I want powerrrr!") which isn't even that widespread.


I don't believe I am. Verified software on your vehicle is no different than other safety features required by law. Break the law, you lose your right to drive, or you go to jail (depending on the severity of the violation).

I am _not_ arguing you shouldn't be allowed to tinker with your vehicle. You're just not entitled to the source code that runs it (unless you buy a car from a manufacturer that agrees to that as part of the sale agreement), nor are you allowed to make modifications and take it out on a public road if you could cause harm to others.


I've never bought a 2016 model car (maybe something changed this year?) so I have never heard about the concept of having to ask a manufacturer to "activate" your car before reading this article.

I buy used cars and repair them myself. I wonder if this disqualifies me from ever owning an electric car? While more recent cars have begun down the troubling path of making less and less user-serviceable, most cars still have either official service manuals or 3rd party manuals (based on tear-downs), and a healthy after-market parts market.


If you a replacing an ECU on a car with a new one, you have to flash it with the right firmware for the vin number of the car. At least that's the case with Chrysler. My friend works at a Chrysler dealership as a tech, and he says that basically anything you now put in on the car, be it something complex, like the ECU, or something simple, like the windshield washer control module, it has to be programmed. If you don't program it, it doesn't work. On BMW M3 you even need a computer to "program" a new battery.


> On BMW M3 you even need a computer to "program" a new battery.

You're "calibrating" the battery. This has been around on BMWs for a long time (my 2008 535xi had this). If you replace the battery yourself and obviously can't program it in, the car will bitch endlessly, but it'll still work.


I bought a new (to me) motorcycle last week. It's a 2008 and it has loads of electronics (compared to my old bike). One of them is an immobiliser that deactivates when it detects a transponder inside the key.

The motorcycle comes with three keys: a red one and two black ones. The black ones will turn on the motorcycle but can't be copied. The red one can be copied and is intended as backup in case you lose the black ones. If you lose three the only way to turn the motorcycle on is to get a new ECU from the manufacturer.

I guess most modern cars are the same.


That sounds terrible. The absence of crap like that is one of the things I love about riding a motorcycle. Does the manufacturer of that motorcycle not realize that they are sacrificing one of their competitive advantages by importing that kind of complexity?

I think maybe I'm not going to sell my 1995 Nighthawk after all! Sounds like it might make more sense to just keep it running, simple and straightforward, without having to worry about all this fragile automation.


I think it's mostly to discourage theft.


I think it's possible to buy an ECU from a parts dealer. You wouldn't have to necessary go directly through the manufacturer. You might also be able to get one from a junkyard.


It's not uncommon for modern ECU's to need to be "coded" to work with the car.


Yes but there are also 3rd party tools available to code ECUs, keys etc. Like the VAG-COM for VW and Audi cars. I don't need to ask vw's permission to add a new key to my car.


Actually you do need to go to a VW dealer to get a new key paired to the immobilizer. It's been that way since at least 2002.

Edit: http://www.myturbodiesel.com/wiki/key-and-remote-replacement...

Tldr: You need the SKC to do it, only VW knows what the SKC is. Or you can hack the immobilizer.


Yes, and if there's a problem with your car that needs an ECU firmware update ... you tend to have to have that done by an authorized dealership.


Not if the update is released. You can buy a cable from China and download the software to do the update.


There are independent ECM repair shops out there which helps keep maintenance costs down and cuts dependence on the OEM.

http://www.autocompdirect.com

http://www.autoecmstore.com


You go to a car junkyard and find the parts you need. Parts from 3. parties aren't that uncommon either.


But think about it from another perspective: someone purchases Tesla car, decided to service it himself without sufficient knowledge, then later he resells his car to another individual, the person who buys his car enables the autopilot mode on a car and because of the poor service quality/mistake the original owner did to a car the autopilot goes crazy and steers your car into a brick wall, everyone will blame Tesla for that, but it's the original owner in fault, because he performed a service for himself and did it badly.


But you can say that about any kind of car, not just Teslas. You could have a guy fiddle with critical system X of a car (maybe suspension or steering) that if done incorrectly could endanger the lives of several people. How do you ensure that a used car is safe to drive? This is a solved problem: you bring the car to a professional mechanic and have him inspect the car, or inspect it yourself if you have the right knowledge. For a Tesla it would be no different; for the case of autopilot a mechanic might inspect all of the sensors (I'm sure Tesla has a utility program for doing this) and then flash the stock firmware onto the car.


> you bring the car to a professional mechanic and have him inspect the car, or inspect it yourself if you have the right knowledge

Or, a second hand Tesla might have a much higher market value if it has a recent inspection certificate from Tesla. Tesla don't have to enforce this on this basis because the market will.


I don't think other people would blame Tesla. People don't blame the manufacturer when someone services a car and doesn't put on the breaks correctly and causes an accident.


Remember how someone claimed their Toyota's brakes refused cooperating, and even though Toyota managed to prove it was the user-installed floor mat issue their sales fell through the floor and Toyota had to rekindle them with discounts, 0% financing and service guarantees?

People don't do deep research and follow-ups on automotive incidents. Best-case scenario is they have someone do it for them, like Consumer Reports. Typical-case is they see a car with a logo on TV or on top of a salvage truck and they make a mental note to avoid that manufacturer.


If it was done by an unofficial maintenance person, then no, not unless it's proven that it was Tesla's fault instead of the maintenance person.

Not sure how it works with official maintenance garages though. I'm sure there's a liability waiver signed somewhere, else there'd be a lot of big lawsuits about improper repairs by official maintainers. Unless there is no such thing as improper repairs. IDK


The media would blame Tesla, they have an agenda.


The media is plural, it has many agendas. So?


I don't think Tesla will be treated any differently than any of the other automobile companies when it concerns liability.

I imagine Tesla's ahead of the liability game right now. Meaning, I imagine they know exactly where, and when someone accesses their vechicles computers? I'm already calling them their computers? We are buying the cars? We own the vechicle? Right? I'll accept full liability after the warranty expires? Like always?

I don't like this trend towards, "Only the factory can work on the device." It's not fair. It's seems like it violates antitrust laws.

It's not just Tesla who doesn't want you to touch their products. It's a lot of companies. It's that Rolex, Patek, Audermars Piguet, any fancy watch you happen to have on your wrist.

I included luxury watches because people don't realize when the warranty runs out on that Rolex; good luck finding an independent Watch Repairer to fix it with Rolex parts.

See Rolex will only sell to authorized dealers. Guys like me, who refuse to pay some sham organization thousands of dollars to be become wotep certified, can't buy watch parts. Rolex wants you to send the watch to the factory, at factory prices. That boutique you bought it from, just sends the watch back, and adds charges to the final factory repair price. Which equals a lot of money for a simple service.

So, in all reality, if you can't bring/authorize repair of an item to whomever you want, including the owner; you are leasing said item? What am I missing?

I forget the name of the Act, but in the U.S. you are allowed to make minor modifications to automobiles, without affecting warranty. For example, you can change the exhaust, and car companies can't disavow you. I sound like The Donald?

I don't think Tesla is even under this Act, which makes there secrecy of product more troublesome.

If companies require us to bring product only back to the factory for repair, guys like me will never buy their product.


>I don't like this trend towards, "Only the factory can work on the device." It's not fair. It's seems like it violates antitrust laws.

No, it doesn't. That's ridiculous. Antitrust laws are about monopolies, and Tesla does not have anything resembling a monopoly. They're a tiny, tiny fraction of the overall auto fleet (even for new cars), they're a very small manufacturer compared to the giants like GM, Ford, and Toyota, and even if you restrict yourself to electric cars they're not the only choice (Leaf, BMW i3, etc.).

What it does seem to violate, however, is the spirit Magnusson-Moss Warranty Act of 1975. In fact, the Massachusetts law which the article mentions was made precisely because of automakers making it nearly impossible for independent mechanics to service cars; this wasn't an issue in 1975 since cars didn't have computers back then, but now they all do.

>I forget the name of the Act, but in the U.S. you are allowed to make minor modifications to automobiles, without affecting warranty. For example, you can change the exhaust, and car companies can't disavow you.

Yep, that's the Magnusson-Moss act. They can only refuse to honor the warranty for cases where they can show the problem was directly caused by the aftermarket part or service. But the end-run around it is not providing service information and not allowing access to computerized tools needed to work on the vehicle. So if, for instance, as discussed in the article, GM makes it so that replacing the master cylinder requires the $10k service tool, they can claim they're not in violation of the act because you can buy the master cylinder (or even an aftermarket one), and the fact that you can't get the $10k computer isn't their problem because that's how the car is designed.

>If companies require us to bring product only back to the factory for repair, guys like me will never buy their product.

The problem here is: what do you do when ALL automakers do this? That's why we need laws preventing this behavior.


This is why you do a pre-purchase inspection and demand a record of services performed on any car you're interested in buying. Most private party used car sales are AS IS. The minute the new owner drives away it's his problem. You should know the condition of your car, and if you're driving one that's unsafe, that's on you.


You simply can't enable Autopilot if the car is produced before May 2015, because it is missing the required hardware.


Funny thing, you get down voted here on HN for facts it is against Tesla.


It has happened already.

http://www.teslamotorsclub.com/showthread.php/58951-Let-the-...

(That starts out with parts, but the guy eventually roots his own car.)


I'm sure Tesla is working hard to try and prevent that; few electronics manufacturers like people messing with their code. Different interests though; with Apple and co it's to prevent free / pirated apps (and them missing out on app store income), and maybe to a lesser degree prevent their platform from looking bad by bad apps. With Tesla it'd be more of a liability issue, I'm sure.


> I think we're going to start seeing "jailbroken" Teslas soon after they start falling out of their warranty period.

This seems particularly likely for the Model 3, given the likely "everyday supernerd" demographic, and simple missing features like working ODB-II interfaces [1].

1: http://www.teslamotorsclub.com/showthread.php/17973-Can-Mone...


ODB-II is really super focused on ICE systems though. I'm not surprised they omitted it from an all electric.


That's no reason not to pass information about speed and distance travelled over the port. I capture that information as I drive. And Tesla could easily include electric car specific information that enthusiasts would enjoy capturing.


It's painful to brick your phone, which is the risk when trying to jailbreak it. It's devastating to brick your $100,000 car, though.


The most WTF part of that article to me was "if hackers are able to find a way to unlock the 40kwh versions to hold a 60kwh charge (which are physically identical batteries limited by software)" ...Seriously?


Ah, another youngster who didn't hear the one about the IBM mainframe upgrades done by moving a jumper.

P.S. it's kind of funny that people who make a living from the sale of goods with zero marginal production cost (i.e. additional copies of a program) get weirded out by "pay-by-value" from hardware manufacturers ...


There is a diesel generator company that makes semi-truck sized mobile generators for backup purposes/remote locations. The difference between the cheap vs expensive variants is around $250,000. They only difference is the cheap one has software to limit the output. Now if you could hack that you could save yourself quarter of a mil.


> if you could hack that you could save yourself quarter of a mil.

Pikers. Sneak in there a hidden octa-core Xeon server running ... ah ... 'cloned' Oracle licences, and that's probably a cool million.


My fear is high-tech components in a car. We may come to a point where we can't replace most of the gears simply because of technology unavailable.

But that being said, a lot of Tesla customers are wealthy and they are probably happy to either get a new one, or send back to the factory/certified repair shop.


On the contrary: Cars are replaceable because they are high-tech. Ford and GM work extremely hard and pay big money for industrial engineers to ensure that every part of their cars are replaceable, and to set up the supply chains to create a thriving after-market environment.

The fact is that Tesla simply isn't prioritizing user replaceable car parts yet. That's fine, as Tesla has a grossly different business model than Detroit.

Replaceable parts is the cornerstone of long-term reliability of machines. And it takes a lot of technology, design, and engineering to make that happen. Electric cars, as a newer technology, don't really know what parts fail in the long term, or what should be or shouldn't be replaceable yet.

In any case, I can imagine a set of gears that doesn't have any supply chain, and may be hard to replace. Just because a transmission is made of mechanical parts doesn't mean its actually practically replaceable: you need suppliers who are building the parts as well as mechanics (or books / guides) that share the knowledge of replacing those parts.

Similarly, I imagine that future electric cars will figure out what should be replaceable. Tesla clearly hasn't figured it out yet however.


> A car that needs the manufacturer's permission to activate is not your car--it's owned by the manufacturer.

Yes, but on the other hand it is best to view a car as a service, because this makes sure that the interests of the manufacturer (or service provider) are aligned with those of the user: no more "planned obsolescence"; and the manufacturer will plan ahead for recycling of materials because this is in their best interest (unlike when you buy a product, where the manufacturer couldn't care less).

This is becoming a new trend, and it is a good thing. The user pays for a service, and the provider has to provide the service for the optimal cost, without hidden costs such as for replacement, repair, etc.


A couple of points:

1. If I wanted DaaS (Driving As A Service) I'd hire a taxi or Uber. I own my car(s) because I don't want to be dependent upon some service provider if I need to get somewhere.

2. When I buy something, I am an _owner_ not a user.

3. Unnecessary dependence on phoning home to the mothership is a huge mis-alignment between the interests of customers and manufacturers. This is why the "Internet of Things" has so far been a disaster (and will continue to be a disaster). Really, it should never be acceptable for your thermostat or your smoke detectors or your refrigerator, or yes--your car, to require constant permission from the manufacturer in order to work.

EDIT:

3a. To me, there are acceptable and unacceptable reasons for such devices to request connections back to home base, but it should always be optional (i.e. the device should work as advertised without connectivity):

- To ask for permission to continue functioning: Unacceptable

- To enable remote-controllability of the device by the manufacturer: Unacceptable

- To harvest customer personal information to be sold or used for marketing purposes: Unacceptable

- To report behavioral or analytics data for the purpose of improving the product: Marginally acceptable

- To enable remote-accessibility or controllability of the device by its owner: Acceptable

- To integrate with valuable 1st or 3rd party services which cannot be provided entirely from the device: Acceptable


All the points you named can be solved by contracts and litigation (perhaps, yes we might need stronger consumer protection). What can't be solved (from what we've seen so far) is manufacturers polluting the environment to no end except by making their products into services.

> 2. When I buy something, I am an _owner_ not a user.

Yes, please get over it. If you don't own a car, your car will not take up useless spacetime. Imagine what cities could look like without parking spots!


They can also be partially solved by refusing to do business with companies that sell products with customer-hostile terms. The only problem would be the day every car manufacturer on Earth decides to behave in this way. Fortunately, while there are a significant number of people like me around, there will always be a market for "things you can buy use without asking permission from the manufacturer".

I find the car I own to very usefully occupy spacetime. If I didn't I wouldn't have bought it. And I am glad that I don't have to phone home to Toyota in order to start it each morning or to repair it. Quite frankly, I don't care what a city would look like without parking spots.


Have we learned nothing from Comcast? Has everyone forgotten Hush-A-Phone?

The user pays for a service, and the provider then tries as hard as possible to lock them in so the cost can be maximised. The interests are fundamentally at odds in that the user has money and the provider has shareholders who are trying to pry it from the user's hands.

The manufacturer will also not plan to recycle the thing unless they're in the EU where they're legally obliged to do so. Does your mobile contract include handset recycling?


So, I own a Toyota. I don't need permission from the manufacturer to fix anything, or change anything. It's much cheaper than a tesla, but it will likely last longer. I have no restrictions on how I drive it other than traffic laws. It's not as fast in a straight line, but it's much better on a track and significantly lighter. Everything you describe is a huge downgrade in my personal freedoms, with no clear benefits.


You are so much more optimistic about the motivations of these "providers" than I that I am struggling to find any common ground where we could have a discussion. All I see are new opportunities for exploitation and control driven by rent-seeking behavior.


If the market is open and competitive then your concerns should be addressed by other vendors. There is no need, nor is it possible, for every product to be appropriate for every consumer. The 'motivation' for these providers is to achieve a return on investment, they can only do that by creating a value proposition that the market approves, which is not the same things as a value proposition that everyone approves.

It isn't entirely clear to me if 'rent-seeking' is the appropriate description here though. You aren't being forced into to this type of arrangement and are free to purchase from other vendors. I'd like to see a bit more regulatory capture, government mandates, and so on before it makes sense to me to start talking about 'rent-seeking'.

For example, the byzentine dealership laws in many states and the lobbying by dealers to maintain the status quo via legislation seems more like rent-seeking to me.


As good get more complex, the industry naturally becomes limited tona few less than competitive competitors.

Open design products allow small companies to compete on add-ons like maintenance and repairs, even though they can't offer whole cars.


Examples? What causes the increased complexity? Market demand? Government regulation? What prevents competitors from appearing or for exiting vendors to offer different products at different levels of 'complexity'?


Makes sense. I see it more as lock in.


Sure, but lock-in is a means of reducing market competition and thereby enabling rent extraction. Lock-in practices are an example of rent-seeking behavior.


>I think we're going to start seeing "jailbroken" Teslas soon after they start falling out of their warranty period. I'm surprised it hasn't happened already. You'd think that out of the thousands of people who have already bought one of these cars, there might be one out there with both the skills and desire to actually own what they paid for.

You seem to forget how much these cars cost. Anyone who can afford $75k-100k for a car is not that likely to want to spend a lot of their time hacking their car.

By contrast, the car I now have, a lowly Mazda3 (costing between about $17k-30k; a nice model can easily be had for about $20k or so) has a touchscreen infotainment system running Linux, and a bunch of people have been busy making hacks for this system, even including getting Android Auto running on it! But when you can get a car like this for less than $20k, that means you have a bunch of young owners, probably in college, who have the skills and spare time to mess with that stuff and spend time on forums talking about it. There aren't likely to be many Tesla owners in college; they're likely to be middle-aged at the youngest, and have a McMansion and family to take care of; that's not someone who has a lot of free time to hack on car computers.


this is incorrect. Teslas have very little depreciation. Trying to buy a preowned or used is still very pricey. At least at this time. I think people that buy 100k car are less inclined to care about the after market value. The people probably also don't care to service the car themselves. Even at 40k I think this probably still holds true.


This is mostly due to pent up demand from very wealthy customers who are not price sensitive. When Tesla (or competition) can satisfy new car demand and start selling to less wealthy consumers, the story will change


Of the handful of people I know that have bought Tesla's, they are very much not of the hacking mindset. I'm not saying this is forever true, but I think the type of person that can actually afford one usually has the "premium" and "executive" mindsets (if I can makeup some terms). That is, they'd rather pay extra for 98% of everything they want and not have the worry of needing to get their hands dirty (the premium mindset). And if there is a problem? They replace/trade-in/buy more premium services to get what they want. They have "their people" take care of it. These aren't intended to be negative descriptions, but more of an informal observation of how people in executive positions with resources available tend to prioritize their time and effort. But of course you'll eventually get more hackers drawn to the car in time.


Silicon Valley is full of them. While I haven't met one of the owner, I'd be surprised if there weren't some who still had the hacker mindset.


There are certainly software hackers who are not interested in hacking mechanical devices, working on cars, or even understanding them. I'm not one, but most of the other software devs I know are. Their cluelessness about how cars work is almost funny.


Most software devs don't have the Hacker Mindset (TM) at all. If you use "sw devs" and "sw hackers" interchangeably, that's the source of your confusion.


> I think we're going to start seeing "jailbroken" Teslas soon after they start falling out of their warranty period.

You sure about this? Because I am sure many of the Teslas are just leases and with how the calculation looks it's more interesting to get a new car at the end of the leasing period than to try to buy it out.


Even with leasing, the used cars won't be immediately destroyed, so it's reasonable to assume they will be sold to people, and these people will have an interest in inexpensive maintenance and repair.


The battery pack comprises such a large portion of the car's value that the value proposition of a used electric vehicle is mainly "battery pack + miscellaneous". Tesla is experimenting with hot-swapping the battery pack (theoretically allowing you to exchange old batteries for brand spanking new) https://forums.teslamotors.com/forum/forums/battery-swap-sta... but so far we don't hear any plans of wide support for this.


> Tesla is doing anything they can to make sure there is no aftermarket for their vehicles

This seems to fly in the face of evidence, considering Tesla directly facilitates aftermarket sales:

teslamotors.com/models/preowned


Two different things. In the context of the parent, aftermarket means parts available from non-OEMs. I can go to the local NAPA and get spark-plugs for my Jeep produced by multiple companies.


Yes, they better have it, Jeeps are worthless peices of junk. I've owned a CJ, a YJ and two TJ and would never recommend it to anyone.


That's resale, not aftermarket parts/modifications


>Tesla is doing anything they can to make sure there is no aftermarket for their vehicles.

Against that "Musk guaranteed the Model S would hold 50% of its value after three years, and he backed the assertion with his own private money."

which implies he's pretty keen on a healthy aftermarket.


Your opinion. If compare to Macs vs PCs or iOS vs Android, it's the complete opposite.


> To me, a car that you can't service yourself is worthless. A car that needs the manufacturer's permission to activate is not your car

It's an ideal car from my point of view. They're a necessary evil in most parts of the country, and the more they become like a 2-year contract iPhone the better.


If you want a 2-year contract car, then lease them and then cycle through cars.

For everyone else who makes sane financial decisions, we kind of want a car that will be repairable 10 years from now. Besides, the majority of people can't afford a new car anyway, and rely on the used-car market.

The people who buy used-cars will greatly appreciate long-term repairable cars, even if the "lease 5 cars over 10 years" crowd cycles through cars and flaunt their disposable income... someone is typically going to end up purchasing those 2-year old cars and then run with them until they die.


I think it's the other way around: by restricting who can service the car, they are artificially keeping the resale value up, which works out to cheaper financing (after all, you finance the difference between purchase price and resale price).


How is restricting who can service the car supposed to keep the resale value up? It means the prospective buyer will have to pay more for repairs when they're necessary, the cost of which comes out of what they'll be willing to pay for the car.


It ensures that servicing is performed by qualified personnel, thereby mitigating the market for lemons.


Is service by third party mechanics really the dominant factor in creating lemons, and not design or manufacturing defects or abusive driving by previous owners?


One of the largest factors is probably a lack of servicing. By requiring all servicing to be done by Tesla (who presumably keep records) they eliminate the "yeah I had that service done but I lost the receipt" scenario: If Tesla says that they didn't service a car, the buyer knows that it wasn't serviced.


Which the seller can mitigate by either keeping their receipts or having Tesla service the car, so the reduction in resale value would only apply to sellers who didn't do that, and then it's their own loss.


Tesla can offer a stronger warranty if they know more about the cars' life. The car is full of sensors.


If they offer a stronger warranty they don't need to prevent service by third party mechanics, because nobody is going to pay a third party mechanic to do service the manufacturer would do for free under warranty.


"Jailbroken", exactly. The mobile industry has taken this lockdown approach as well. It's working for them. I wouldn't be at all surprised if it works for the auto industry too.

I'm not sure this is inherently bad or good. I don't like it personally, but I do see the reasoning. Self-driving cars probably shouldn't be hackable, and the first attempts need to be airtight as possible (what with the media jumping at every chance to spread FUD). But it concerns me that the days of opening the hood to hack away at your pickup truck might someday, largely, go away... That's not good for anyone.


> A lot of Tesla fans claim that electric vehicles are inherently superior, because with fewer moving parts, they'll be able to stay on the road basically forever - no piston rings to wear, no transmissions to fail, no oil to change.

There are at least two major components that "wear out" in power electronics - capacitors and power transistors. Traditional vacuum-impregnated motor winding insulation also has a wear-out mechanism.

Electrolytic capacitors have both an electrolyte breakdown and dryout at extended temperatures and voltage. Film capacitors also have a (much slower) dielectric breakdown. Power transistors have two wear-out mechanisms: one that is based on thermal cycling of the wire bonds and one that is based on thermal cycling of the solder between the transistor and direct-copper-bonded substrate.

Datacenter-scale UPS addresses both of these with field-replaceable modules. The main AC and DC capacitor banks are replaceable in advance of failure, and power transistors are field replaceable in much larger power modules, typically only after a failure.

Vacuum-impregnated motor winding insulation is typically not completely void-free. The high dV/dt that a direct-connected inverter imposes on the windings causes large repetitive voltage spikes across the winding insulation. The voltage spikes trigger partial discharge in the voids, which in turn erodes the insulation.

IMO, long-lived electric cars should at least have capacitor banks that are schedule-replaced, and drive modules that are replaceable after failure. With the level of diagnostics and history monitoring available today, we should be able to replace both components in advance of failure as well.

Do electric cars have lower maintenance, longer life, and higher reliability than ICE cars? Definitely, probably, and probably, respectively. But "lower", "longer", and "higher" don't mean "zero", "forever", and "infinite".


I found your addition very interesting. But I think the "Tesla fans" referred to, are referring to something different.

The Tesla vehicles are "missing" a lot of parts that rust, corrode, and cause engineering challenges. One of the main ones behind the exhaust system. Speak with a series of car mechanics and they'll invariably tell stories of cars that never received an oil change until something fails. There are videos, pictures, and documentation of Tesla being able to swap drive trains, etc.

Put together, Tesla is able to better protect the frame and body from corrosion by separating it from the same parts that usually "Carry this along". That's a lot of text to say they reduce the surface area and mass of corrosion and failure prone parts.

This isn't to say I agree, but I find the information all fascinating (as a car guy). The best way to make a car, in my mind; more serviceable is to increase the protections from rust and corrosion. Otherwise a simple brake pad ends up being an entire brake system upon repair attempt. In regards to electronics; they can go in sealed compartments and be easily serviced. How awesome. They can also just as easily be replaced by a superior implementation.

Anyways, your post made me ramble a bit but I'm trying to determine if I agree with the original post or not.


I have an 89 Ford. It has been parked outside in rainy Seattle for 20 some years. Other than the exhaust system, it is free of corrosion. I find this rather incredible. Ford has done a truly amazing job with corrosion protection, unlike my older car which rusts when a cloud passes by.

I also have to compliment Ford on building a low maintenance vehicle that is also cheap and simple to repair when it does go wrong.


Those voids also allow the wiring of the windings to flex slightly under the changing magnetic flux leading to eventual insulation failure.


Most big-ass transformers also produce an audible hum, meaning something is moving enough to push air around.


That's a combination of those same gaps and gaps in the transformer laminations where the laminates don't line up perfectly around the edges (they flutter ever so slightly) and inside the stack if a sheet isn't pressed perfectly flat or the lacquer isn't applied evenly.


Also, air-cooled transformer windings are installed such that there are deliberate air gaps between each coil layer. Spacers are inserted in between the gaps for some structural rigidity, but there is enough remaining flexibility to vibrate.


How many years (or electrons) is "long-lived"? There is a wide range of finite numbers, some are practically infinite, dominated by other factors (cumulative risk of totalling the car in a crash, change in road or passenger compartment design,...)


This is a good place to share this with geeks who may not be into cars: I drive a 1994 Mercedes (W124 chassis). One of the most reliable cars ever made. Simple to repair yourself. A TON of info available online for anything you could want to fix.

Pretty much (probably 100%) of all parts on the car are available super cheap as chinese replacements because the model was around for so long and so many of them are still on the road (I just replaced the car window regulator - normally a few hundred $$, got it on amazon delivered for $23).

Made to be serviced/repaired. Quite a bit of fun doing it too. You can pick one up for $2k and it will probably do another 200k miles no problem.

And the best bit? FAR FAR more environmentally friendly than a new Tesla. I'll leave that up to you to figure out ;)


Your window regulator will fail again within a year or two.

(Learned this from experience installing Chinese-made replacement parts in my 90's VW)


I'm sure it will. $23 for a few years is Ok though... it only takes 30 mins to swap it out.


Certainly better that a $1200 Tesla Model S door handle that has to be activated ;D


30 minutes, that's impressive. Personally, I can't stand dealing with interior panels. I feel like every time I take apart a door panel I'm rolling the dice if I'm going to break any of the plastic pieces. I prefer to do work in these areas as infrequently as possible.


My E46 3 series (BMW) would chew through these as well. OEM or knockoff.


omg dude. My E46 chews through turn signal bulbs, Final stage relays, lock actuators, and oil. I love the car but jeez.


I have a motorcycle with a low-tension engine oil ring to keep the upper cylinder lubricated at 10-15k RPM. To stop oil burn-off I recommend slowly increasing oil weight over time and monitoring burn-off. Have you considered Rotella T6?


You should look up crash tests between cars considered safe in 1994 and modern cars.

I saw one for two Renault Espace models. The old one was so crumply compared to the new one, that the new one didn't even deploy airbags because there was no need. Both got top safety ratings when new.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=xQS-7heF-og


Oh, and one more thing. Go walk around the yard of a tow company. Be prepared to feel sick.

You'll come away with the conclusion that the standard crash tests, which are well designed for common accidents, are still just a small minority of serious accidents.

And the most horrifying thing that I came away with is the number of wrecks where there is 'car' where the passengers should be. Even in trucks and SUVs.

The strongest cars ever built historically are still the strongest cars on the road, even though there have been some great innovations that they miss out on.

This is just for fun really, not trying to make a point with it, but this is an old Volvo destroying other cars: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R95yOXPoR_s


Volvos definitely have a well-deserved reputation; for many years, their slogan was "Drive Safely", and they took it seriously.

Here's another video where the Volvo's passenger compartment doesn't even change shape while the other car's is completely crushed: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vt0oQsRvtWI

Although a downside is that, as the joke goes, "a Volvo doesn't need a crumple zone; it uses the other car." Not so good if the other car also happens to be a Volvo...


That is only true if the other car is of the same era.

Verus newer cars the crumple roles are very much reserved

https://youtu.be/qBDyeWofcLY?t=105


Another issue is that of energy dissipation. Car being too stiff means passengers get to absorb the energy. Modern cars also have a lot more airbags.

Electronic stability systems also do a great job of preventing a lot of crashes.


Older models are a popular choice for the low budget motorcross competitions :-)


Great point. I have watched hundreds (not exaggerating). Sobering.

New in general is much better than old. But, it gets complicated.

The strength of the cage the passengers are in hasn't improved much, what has is how they behave in very specific crash tests. Go outside of that (go off a bank and roll down the hill over and over) and you'll find an old GL750 Volvo or '79 W116 merc will still have kept it's integrity in the passenger compartment (the doors will probably still open) where most modern cars would be crushed, passengers included.

Basically the bottom line is if you're going to buy an older car, get one that is still considered safe today. That leaves you with all mercs, volvos, most BMWs and Saabs from the post-airbag era. And get ABS - avoid the accident in the first place.


Volvo and Mercedes are known to be very safe and reliable ( and that for many decades). (Mercedes cars manufactured until 1999 last literally many decades) "Modern" safety features like airbags, ABS, security glass were first introduced by those companies many years ago. There is a reason why presidents, the pope, etc drive in such cars.

The common US and EU standard crash test don't cover all real world crash situations and it has been shown in various recent tests that many newer car that got a 5 star rating aren't that safe in the real world. They were specifically designed for the well known crash tests, if another car hits you in a different angel or overlap, you have bad luck. Watch old episodes of the Top Gears TV series where the drive in "christmas special episodes" through Africa, Asia, etc with old cars - old Mercs and Volvo's survived, other cars failed because of mechanic or electronic issues.


I watched that episode. The Beemer's airbag deployed due to vibration from the road. That can't have been fun,


@20.8 mpg city when new that's 10,000 gallons of fuel for 200k miles or ~30,000$ while gas is cheap. A Tesla model 3 (To Be Unveiled March 31st) is 35,000$, costs far less (~1/10th) for fuel, and is not 22 years old.

That's why people care about electric cars.


10k gallons costs you $18,000 or less right now "while gas is cheap" - for a TCO of $20,000 in 20 years (plus cheap-ish repairs) - and you are driving a Merc.

The model 3 (once you can actually get hold of it) will cost you $35,000 up front, plus about $7,000 in electricity for 200k miles at prices of 13-15c/kWh, plus about two battery replacements - battery lifetime is 8 years or 125k miles - at $10,000ish a pop - for a TCO of $62,000 plus repairs.


And don't forget the 'cost of money'. Take the purchase price, $35k, minus an old car, say $5k, and you have $30k making money for you over the 20 years. Conservatively, even in a bank in some countries, the return from $30k in the bank is going to pay for your gas then you'll still have the principle left over at the end.


Can you please clarify where your numbers are coming from and what they are referencing


They come from my keyboard, just above the QWERTYUIOP keys. They are referencing currency.


What 'jjawssd' was actually asking was an explanation of the math you used to come up with those particular numbers. He's doubting that you could pay for the gas using the interest on $30K. While you do have a point that one should pay attention to the 'cost of money', it also seems possible that you were neglecting to account for the withdrawals to purchase gas along the way.

10,000 gallons of gas in 20 years equates to about 40 gallons per month. At $2/gallon, this is $80 per month. If you plug these into a compound interest calculator (https://www.investor.gov/tools/calculators/compound-interest...) with -$80 for the monthly addition, you find that at a 3.25% APR you can pay for your gas and still have the principal remaining at the end.

3.25% is currently higher than you can find for any US bank account, but as you say, there are definitely places in the world where this is possible. At 1% (still high by US current standards), you'd have $15,000 of your principal left at the end --- a $5,000 difference from not receiving any interest. Worth considering, but not too likely to be a deciding factor.


3.25% is definitely pretty feasible. Interest rates on bank accs right now aren't a great reflection of supply and demand. But if you look at average returns on the market, say by looking at a decent first proxy for the market like the S&P 500, well that's one which has a 7% inflation-adjusted (i.e. real return) return in its history. In recent years it's been a bit higher as the market is rebounding. In general I'd assume its on the high end (century of cheap oil and all), but 4% is still a realistic long-term return figure, and so 3.25% is therefore quite doable with a moderate level of risk in a diversified portfolio. (oh and the above is not just inflation-adjusted, but also excluding dividend payouts which aren't insignificant).


Thanks for doing the math, I didn't take the time.

FWIW 3.25% happens to be exactly what a term deposit will pay here in mexico for 90 days+

I understand that banks in other countries wouldn't do that, however you don't have to take much more risk over a bank to get 3.25% in most of the world I would imagine


By the way, what's the price of gasoline currently in Mexico? My impression is that it's historically been a regulated price, but I read something a while ago that said it was moving toward deregulation. I wasn't clear if this meant the price was expected to go up or down.


The battery warranty is 8 years. Lifetime is not certain at this point but is likely to be longer.


If you read the article it points out that there a great many exemptions in the warranty. I wonder how many "owners" will be able to have their battery replaced under warranty?


The battery warranty covers nearly everything. The only exclusion is intentional damage. Even accidental damage is covered. I see nothing in the article that says otherwise.


I just filled up yesterday and gas was 2.89$ a gallon. Where exactly is it 1.80?


$1.89 last week in NYC, where we have the highest gas taxes in the country (42.4 cents/gal[1]). So gas is probably around $1.60 across the river in NJ.

[1] http://www.newyorkgasprices.com/Tax_Info.aspx


Interesting, I hadn't realized that NYC gasoline taxes were higher than California. Looking into it, there is some reason to argue that California higher is higher if you apply a broader definition of "tax".

Here's an article showing the breakdown for California: http://watchdog.org/232083/california-gas-taxes/

And here's for New York: http://legacy.wgrz.com/story/news/2015/01/07/new-york-gas-pr...

But since the articles are using a different base price per gallon, I'm not sure what the actual difference is.


Gas is $1.34 per gallon today in my town here in South Carolina.


I just filled up for $ 1.39/gallon in Houston, Texas


$2.89 seems particularly high. Would it be right to guess that you are a non-price conscious buyer in California? Here's a map for the US: http://www.gasbuddy.com/GasPriceMap?z=4

Here's a map comparing average San Francisco, California gasoline prices (one of the highest in the US) to Tucson, AZ (one of the lowest): http://charts.gasbuddy.com/ch.gaschart?Country=USA&Crude=t&P...


> that's 10,000 gallons of fuel for 200k miles or ~30,000$ while gas is cheap

Highly dependent on where you live. Here in Texas it was $30,000 when gas was expensive; it would be $17,000 at current prices.


As someone who owns both an E30 BMW and a Ford Escort, there is kind of a "myth" about cost of repair and reliability when it comes to luxury brands. I don't think any BMW or Merc is going to be more reliable or cheaper to repair than a comparable "cheap" car. It's just that people a). take better care of luxury cars and b). people are more likely to keep them running.


Not to mention that reliability =/= cheap repairs. The cost of repairs is much higher on many luxury cars even if repairs are few and far between.


Which model exactly? How is it more environmentally friendly than a Tesla? Surely the mileage is very poor...?

(I'm in the market for a cheap car and am genuinely interested in your answers ;-)


It's more environmentally friendly because it's already built.


Note that this is true of any car in a car dealer lot. But it only matters as a comparison when a car is potentially at end-of-life, and whether it stays on the road or gets shoved in a junkyard and replaced with a new one is an open question.

If somebody decides to replace their 2013 model, it's basically 100% odds of staying on the road, and that car being on the road maybe represents one less new car that could have been made. But person who buys the used 2013 might be selling their 2001 to someone who takes it and then scraps their 1992 model. The net effect is one new car being manufactured, and one old car being scrapped. We can't take each transaction in the chain and say "This sale prevented a new car from needing to be made and saved a bunch of energy and material costs, and so did this one, and so did this one."

That's only with respect to the manufacturing side, or what we'd call "embodied energy". There are considerations from ongoing costs too, like how the gas mileage (probably fine, I've clocked my 1998 Civic at around 32 MPG) or emissions (I have no idea) compare against a newer car.


I would wager that 80% of cars that are crushed (which weren't in an accident) could be repaired (if broken) or 'fixed up' to operate better than the last owner thought possible for less than a days work and perhaps a few hundred dollars.

I do appreciate your point, but I think people are far too afraid of older cars and they are scrapped too soon.

I was hoping to convince some folk in this tech community that old cars can be a good idea. Save money, have fun, help the environment. Hell, buy an old Rolls Royce... why not?!


You may have luxury of feeling that way -- most people do not. The average age of the US auto fleet is significantly older than it once was. 10+ year old cars are like 5-7x more common than they were 10-15 year ago.

Hell, I drive a 2003 model year car that isn't going anywhere.


Look if Cuba can drive around on their fleet of ridiculously old cars, then it can be done. It just might not be super easy or labor-cheap.

I think what GP is getting at is if you start optimizing first for reuse, there's a lot of cars we wouldn't need to build.


Mostly just wanted to point out that there are two numbers that drive how many new cars are sold:

1) Increase in total number of vehicles in use (relatively level 2008-2013, a quick google didn't find newer data)

2) Old vehicles taken off the road being replaced by new ones

The net effect of a particular person buying a slightly used car over a new one is basically nothing. The big picture only changes when people are choosing to keep an old car on the road for longer.


One of the side effects of emissions controls introduced in the late 90s is that cars are way more reliable. Basically these days most cars can easily achieve 200k miles or more without heroic labor.

I can't find a free source of the data, but I know in my state 10+ year old auto registrations spiked from 2008 onwards.


My '04 vibe needs new catalytic converters, exhaust, and tires, which are altogether right about the book value of the car.

So I'm going to disagree on "few hundred dollars", at least here in Canada where the road salt eats cars.


I live in Mexico, and a few hundred dollars will get you a complete new exhaust system for both your car and your partners car. It won't be OEM, but it will work.

And tires, I see that as a consumable like gasoline, so wouldn't include that in the few hundred dollars.


I totally buy the environmental impact argument on keeping that Mercedes vs buying the Tesla.

That isn't the only concern though. In a high speed collision against a modern 5-Star vehicle the people in the Mercedes are pretty much toast.

I think it's possible you could upgrade the safety of an older vehicle in many ways, but realistically most owners never would beyond tires and modest braking improvements. And you'll probably not see "city stop" like systems or airbag cocoons become common aftermarket systems anytime soon.


If I could install aftermarket side airbags I would. It's the main advance missing from the older cars.

I don't agree with your statement about the high speed collision though. If it's front on, the strength of the passenger compartment and the weight of your vehicle vs the other car are the most important thing, in which case the Mercedes is likely to come out even or better.


It weighs less than comparable modern cars (my S80 weighed 4400lbs IIRC, my truck weighs 7,200 and my wife's van is about 5,500) at 3,900lbs.

Check out the ~30mph crash test footage: http://youtu.be/8ye-EIymm2k

There's others on YouTube. It doesn't look pretty. A low belt-line doesn't help either (or so I've read, I'm not an automotive engineer).

I get the old car love. A P1800 or Volvo Amazon would be so cool. But you have to accept that even vehicles that were at the top of their game a decade ago are going to get the bad end of the stick in a wreck with a new vehicle. There's a 5th Gear video of a last-gen vs new Espace out there as well. Both 5-star rated at release. The new one absolutely demolished the old one. And we're talking about a much smaller time gap in releases here.

The W124 has only gotten more attractive with age. It's reliable and easy to service. It's better environmentally than running out and buying a Tesla. That's all admirable. and adults are totally capable of those outweigh safety for themselves.

But motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death among children and teens if you exclude suicide and cancer. If you could do something that would have a potentially large impact on that stat, as a parent, it's kind of hard to ignore.

(Which wow, that seems like a pretty stark class issue I've never considered before.)


I feel the same way. I drive a classic Range Rover, and it is a lot of fun. Yes, I spend around $2000 each year getting various components repaired or replaced, but that is enough to keep ahead of entropy, and between loan payments and the higher cost of insurance I'd be spending twice that or more on a newer vehicle. Plus, I have a relatively simple machine with no fancy DRM automation crap that won't report me to the FBI for crimethink.


Apparently you're 8 times more likely to die if your car is half the weight of the one you have a high speed collision with (sorry from memory no reference, could be bogus). Add to that the over-the-top strength of the Range Rover and even though it's a classic, I think you're going to be more likely to survive in a head on collision than 95% of other vehicles on the road.


That makes sense in a simple, back-of-the-envelope F=ma sort of way. I hadn't really thought about it from a safety perspective, though; it just suits my needs well. In general I'm happier to economize by buying really nice stuff that's cheaper because it's used, than by buying something newer that's just cheaper. It becomes an aesthetic thing - a feeling of shabby luxury suits me.


The gasoline dwarfs the initial car manufacturer, as far as environmentalism goes.


JshWright got it of course - reuse, then recycle, then buy new if you have to.

Mine is an E320 wagon. Any W124 or W126 chassis is a good bet as it's before Merc started going down hill in build quality.


They are not environment friendly in cities. That's why a lot of European cities are banning them.


It's gasoline. You're thinking of diesel.


Here in Lisbon no such distinction is made, any diesel or gasoline car built before 2000 is banned from the city center.


Wow that's very interesting, I didn't know that.

Although going by year is a little arbitrary (a 1995 honda vs a 2005 GM SUV?) I do support the concept.

Personally I'd like to see most city centers car free.


Emissions standards get more strict each year, so it's not arbitrary at all. As technology advances, emissions systems get more advanced and ten years makes a world of difference. A 1995 Honda might be legally allowed to spew 1000x the amount of NOx that a 2005 Tahoe can. So a newer car could be much cleaner than an old one, even with a 3x larger engine.

This is also completely ignoring the fact that older engines are more likely to have various parts of their engine and emission systems degrade over time, reducing their effectiveness.


I agree that the cutoff by year is somewhat arbitrary, though SUVs have never been popular around here, with gas being so expensive; right now, it's at ~1.36€/liter (aprox $5.67/gallon), while our median salary is less than $1600/month.


The world is going to make a lot more new cars over the next few decades, millions upon millions of them. They can either be new electric cars or new ICE cars. The former is better for the environment.

Yes, bikes, mopeds, taxis, busses and trains would be more efficient than cars in many places, and electric versions of those are better for the environment too. (Special addendum defending electric bikes: the assumption here is that they displace car journeys not non-electric bike journeys.


> FAR FAR more environmentally friendly than a new Tesla

Are you referring to this sort of analysis?

https://www.reddit.com/r/teslamotors/comments/33wqgm/calcula...


This is very troubling to read. I can understand that tampering with an automobile might pose safety concerns. I can also understand that Tesla is trying to protect its brand. That being said, the fact that Tesla is monitoring individual cars in a way that they can detect when you're used the Ethernet port is seriously Orwellian. I can only imagine this will get worse as cars become more autonomous.


The ability to potentially break your car has never stopped any other car in history from having an accessible engine compartment.

This is basically in tandem with the John Deere story - the consequences of proprietary software bleed into the physical world and cause an incredible amount of difficulty for people who do not even recognize what the problem is. Tesla can only get away with all this because of how digital the car is in the first place.


Replacing hardware parts and replacing software is diferent. Unofficial "jaibreak" software updates can contain errors or backdoors or intentionally written malicious functions programmed to be acivated on a special day.


Unofficial replacement parts can also be of lower quality and fail just as dangerously if not more so (e.g. a suspension part can break and a wheel literally falls off.)


Tinkering with an electric car when you don't know what you're doing will kill you so much more easily than a gasoline car will. That probably has something to do with it?


"Sticks a potato in exhaust pipe"

"Drives around car"

"Dies"

Alternatively, disconnect the steering column and drive off a cliff.

There are a thousand easy ways to kill yourself making uninformed modifications to any motor vehicle, by its nature. Its a ton of steel that goes up to a tenth the speed of sound. If anything, the reduced complexity of electric vehicles gives you fewer vectors for wrongdoing to screw yourself over. You can break any number of parts in a combustion engine to make it fail, whereas in an electric vehicle all you really have is steering column + drivetrain + battery pack.


It's much easier to intuit the risks from a mechanical danger than an electrical one. It's the difference between breaking a mechanical linkage and accidentally brushing up against a live terminal.


This seems unlikely to be true.

Seems that the chance of death from a gasoline explosion is much greater than an electric shock (of which a gas engine also has through smaller wires traditionally over longer runs).

I've definitely had my share of gas spills working on cars and boats. There are also very high voltage sparks going on. Then a gasoline car has several moving parts w/ vibrations while electrical motors are relatively vibrationless (assumes less chance of vehicle falling on you).


The battery pack on an electric car is a completely different league from the electrical system in a gasoline car. You cannot compare the risks.


Also the ability to replace software would allow criminals to bypass anti-theft mechanisms.


You can easily use the same mechanisms to secure personal computers to secure cars. Have a signing key for firmware uploads that the owner (or if they do not want the signing key, the dealer/manufacturer) controls.


I think what will happen is that as more cars leave warranty Tesla will be increasingly pressured to provide a "jailbreak" option for people who want to keep driving and servicing their Tesla. If they don't capitulate then regulators will eventually force the issue. They can get away with this now because their cars are all high-end and still under warranty, but it will change with the Model 3. Tesla probably knows this, but they'll hold on for as long as they can because there are many advantages to having total control of the life cycle. Things might get ugly at some point, though.


The "paywalled workshop manual" requirements are common to every manufacturer. The only reason service manuals are available for free online for other modern cars is that they're ripped from the manufacturer's pay portal, not that the manufacturer is supplying them out of the goodness of their hearts. And the service prices are pretty much in line with other luxury cars at the price point.

Not that that really defends Tesla, though. Cutting off an owner from dealer parts supply because their car is salvaged is unprecedented as far as I know. And the cutthroat attitude that every part of the car is a trade secret is ridiculous.

I think the biggest challenge for Tesla when they release the Model 3 will be scaling up their service network while scaling down costs. $70,000 car owners are generally willing to pay $400-$800 every few years for a dealer service. $30,000 car owners aren't. And for most manufacturers, scaling dealer service is a franchise : they need to supply parts, training, and certification, not a whole service department. For Tesla, it's a brave entry into a challenging core business.


Although some manufacturer's are including service with the price of a car. If you drive 15k miles a year with oil changes every 3k (or 5k) miles, then you are spending $60-100 /year for oil changes. Depending on the vehicle you might be paying for a tune up and mileage interval servicing as well.

$400-$800 isn't too bad for basic maintenance.


Do most manufacturers only supply manuals when legally compelled to?


If you pay for alldata or michelin ondemand you get access to all of that.


If the serivcis provided by the manufacturer, they ought to roll it into the purchase, $X + $Y/yr maintenance subscription


Interesting, I work in the wind turbine industry (at the margin, and since one month, I guess I'm an expert), and it's the same, there are interesting sensors and data everywhere, but everything is locked down, and as long as the warranty runs, the owner of the turbine is at the mercy of a very reluctant maker for every maintenance task. The owner can't use any of those very useful sensors to assess the state of the turbine, he has to call external consultants who will re-instrument the turbine with external sensors at great cost, when they could have just downloaded the existing data from their office to give a look at it.


And then what happens when the mfr. goes out of business? For example, see Clipper Windpower.


Specific to Clipper, the owner of the technology keeps enough money around to keep rebuilding the crazy gearboxes for current owners, while other spares can often be obtained directly from the actual component manufacturers. Third party service organizations like EDF Services or UpWind keep them running for you, or you can hire your own techs.

Depending on the contract the relevant design information may also put in escrow in the event the manufacturer goes under and spares are no longer available.

For comparison, Zond and US Windpower died more than a decade ago but the owners are still keeping the machines going. It can be a challenge but it's not the end of the world.


I guess it's the same situation as when the warranty goes out, it's open bar on the internals but there is no documentation.


I'm glad someone wrote about this. I have a deposit on a Model X, and this is the single largest issue that is making me lean towards not buying the vehicle. I occasionally enjoy doing my own maintenance or repair on stuff I own and my present vehicle (close to a Model X equivalent but dinosaur powered and German) has been pleasant in that regard. There is nice fully functional (though Windows) third-party diagnostic software available, the actual service documentation is available to owners (for a pretty reasonable fee), there is a bit of competition on parts price amongst dealers (though ultimately only within a certain range as they still originate with one manufacturer) and I haven't once felt like instead of owning the car I merely have a license from the manufacturer to use it. I worry after the warranty expires that I will be at the mercy of Tesla for any service and support, which is an unknown quantity right now. I've seen the terrible spot a product owner can be left in when a manufacturer decides (for whatever reason) that service and support are now their primary profit center. Not only are you screwed in that your product now costs a fortune to maintain, your product is now essentially worthless for resale because everyone knows the cost to maintain and repair it makes it uneconomical. (See, e.g. several private aircraft companies which went bankrupt)


This is dumb. Can you replace the tie rods, brake pads, tires? So long as the regular maintenance items can be handled I don't see a problem. Electronic parts on other cars are getting herd to replace too - they do things like record the VIN code upon first use and refuse to work in a different car, all in the name of anti-theft. Also, as people get excited about self driving cars, safety becomes a huge concern. You have throttle, brakes, steering, camera systems, radar, all working together to achieve that. You're not going to be tampering with any of that stuff on any car in the near future.

So if regular maintenance items can be replaced, and body damage can be repaired, I don't see the complaint.


Yes, basic maintenance like you describe is entirely possible to do on your own or at any normal mechanic. Body work can be done at normal high-end body shops as well, with the caveat that getting replacement panels from Tesla is expensive and challenging due to their limited production capacity.

Source: Friend's Tesla recently needed some body work to repair a dented door.


This sounds a lot like the open vs closed system debate we had/(have?) with computers. I'm glad that in my youth I could wrench on the internals of a PC and I'm glad that in my 30s I never have to because my Mac 'just works'. Also, this debate is older than I am: http://www.amazon.com/Zen-Art-Motorcycle-Maintenance-Inquiry...


If you had read Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance you'd known that it has very little to do with actual motorcycle maintenance, apart of using it as a tool to make its point.


Dust off your copy and go reread it under a tree.


This is a kind of dickish way to reply. Yeah it's not the original point but there is a discussion of this issue in it IIRC.


It may have come across dickish, It was not my intention. I had no time to go in more detail and just left it as a note.

As for the issue at hand, yes, it's mentioned nearly at the beginning of the book, when the narrator is discussing the motorcycles each character has and why they chose it, mentioning the two views[0]. If I recall correctly, there's no discussion, it's simply there to give an example of the concept of quality that the author is trying to define. Anyone thinking that the book has anything to do with actual motorcycle maintenance (or worse, trying to use the advice) didn't understood the ideas and concepts of the book.

[0] The tinkerer, open view, exemplified with an old motorcycle (of which I don't remember the make) vs the "it just works", closed view, using a brand new BMW.


The PC v MAC is an interesting parallel. Sure you can mod your pc and fix it yourself, just like most cars today. You also need very specialized skills and could ruin your whole system (Car or computer). Mac on the other hand, you can't really mod, but it just works and thats good enough for most people.

The difference is cars need regular maintenance and computers don't. The author is claiming maintenance on Tesla's is difficult, but he dismissed the point that they might not need regular maintenance like other cars.

I think only time will tell (a justification on most of his points) whether Tesla is the Mac of cars, or if Teslas still need regular maintenance.


http://www.consumerreports.org/cars/tesla-reliability-doesnt...

Consumer Reports claims that Tesla does not have high reliability. Defective drivetrains are far more common than they should be.

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