New Post: Locked In A Remote Control Car

It’s rare to find modern technology that’s actually on your side . For the most part when technology advances today, new features are less for your benefit, and more to benefit the company that made them.

Whenever I hear about a new piece of technology, at first I’m excited. Then, my next reaction is to wait for the other shoe to drop and discover the secret way it ends up exploiting me for the company’s benefit. It might lock me into a company’s other products, making me dependent upon them so I can’t move to a competitor. It might spy on me and sell my data. It might sell me disabled hardware or software at a discount, only to charge me more later to unlock features to make the tech usable.

As cars become more like rolling computers, car manufacturers have been copying tech companies by designing features that let them lock in customers and remotely control car features, muddying the definition of car ownership along the way. Current trends in the automotive industry point to a future with you locked in a remote control car, your vendor holding the remote.

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“Buy now! Pay FOREVER!” …In one way or another.

Is it time to crowdfund a “Librem 4x4”?


It will bei difficult to vote with our dollars if this will be the new standard next year. I don’t see a realistic plan to stop them. It’s just to much money and to many powerful actours in that game.

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Purism should partner with Openmotors to develop one of their “Tabby” electronic vehicles with an open-source control system. I’m more than half joking, because the “Open” in Openmotors has to do with their hardware, which is “open source” under a “Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License” I have no idea what kind of godawful control system software they may currently be using to run the EV. Still, it speaks well of their philosophy that their hardware is open source, at least!


I agree totally. Some of the technology improvements that Tesla has made are incredible, but I just can’t justify buying a car that I can never own. I’ve been hoping that other manufacturers wouldn’t catch on but it sounds like BMW already has. My plan was to refuse to buy a Tesla in order to express my displeasure with their business practices. But as @prolog says, that only works if there is another option.

Unfortunately, that business model is very attractive to shareholders. The company I work for sells software and not long ago, we sold the license and the user was able to continue using the software indefinitely. Now, we are starting to offer a subscription model where the user pays monthly. The shareholders want that model because it provides more steady and–ultimately–higher profits. Every time I hear about that I start to feel embarrassed to be part of the company. I supposed it is just the natural next step in the evolution of capitalism. I hope that we–as consumers–will be able to fight that progression, but I’m not optimistic at this point.

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Pretty soon, people will be paying to get their headlights cracked.

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Very depressing, and very annoying. But mostly depressing.


Oldtimers will get even more expensive.

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Nope. Oldtimers get illegal.

What I’m hoping is that more oldtimers will get electric conversion kits made for them. There are already drop-in conversion kits for old VWs that use existing bolt holes and allow you to revert it fully back to the factory engine.


Bicycle, here I come.


What I’m fearing is that anything older than few years will get illegal or taxed into oblivion. Not only cars. Anything. Everything. Afterwards, right to repair will become pointless. Right to own will become pointless as well.

I do hope these are just my fears and that they are unfounded.

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I am also really concerned regarding always on and OTA updates that destroy features. On the other hand, if I ever buy a new car it should be EV. Due to subsidies in Germany for EV I wrote a Mail to both Renault and Volkswagen last year regarding data privacy. (I saw Tesla as a lost case - as very well described in the article they own your car remotely already)
For the Zoe it seems that if you rent the battery they can remotely track you wherever you are and deactivate your battery which makes the complete car useless. For the Id3 the response was that there will be OTAs and the car will be always on at least when you drive it but you can go in some kind of flight mode which will deactivate anything but the legal obligations which must be transmitted by all cars (eCall). However they told me that some functions will no longer work once this is activated - which I don’t know but they said you can still drive… (when I asked the software also was still more than beta)

I can only urge you to write to companies where you want to buy cars in the future asking those questions now, even if you might not buy a car now. It’s like writing your parliamentarian. If they receive mails on data privacy they know that there are people out there who vote (in this case with their money) for them.

From this article I also got the idea that Purism will announce LibremCar partnering with some car company which overslept digitization until now and could profit from Purism’s expertise with automotive components ^^. Order your LibremCar now and get it in a few months!


With all data hoarding tools all over, let see what are on the table such as manufactured computers with Google & Microsoft craps installed, smart phones including “smart” spyware apps, smart kitchen & laundry appliances with wifi, smart home security system hooked to companies, Alexa, Nest, smart Ring doorbell, smart bathroom stuff with wifi added to some new toilets, smart television, smart watches, smart switches, smart mirrors, smart entertainment devices like blu-ray, dvd players, etc, smart remote control, smart exercise machines even bicycles, smart earpieces, smart glasses, smart driver license, smart cloud, anything that have “smart” to it connected to companies thru internet. Now smart auto, duh…

With everything having smart to it must means people are getting dumber, are they? Data sniffing companies wanting to know every details you do, what you look like, every details of your bodies, activities, what in your minds, when last time you farted, what your rectums smell like… Including their employees who work for them are sort of like weirdos that police usually cross during raiding suspected homes only to discover hoarded piles of used underpants wore by other women that weirdos stole from. They all are the kinds of people who would like to join that table.

Don’t you wonder about possibly shortage of data storage devices like SSD, hard drives, servers, flash usb, discs, etc from them hoarding all of your data? When do raw materials to produce data storage ever get to run out? Would it be like Mad Max after oil runs out, do we call it Max Geek? Is it their purpose to drive up the prices for data storage by herding the herd toward Cloud?

All of those making myself wishing for a powerful solar flare like 1859 Carrington event that would fry all electronics around the world bringing civilization back to dark age as ablative on my wrath of their existence.


Yes, but… car’s are gone. LIDAR Cars scraping more information, every day from the environment and upload it over 5g to the Cloud. Its like someone else bought you a Computer, pay for your Internet Connection. Pay yourself as a yearly Maintainer. Just to have Internet Access.

Welcome to the new World. It will shift our World to mobility as a service.

Customers can not beat this, cause to get free, they need to pay the Car and the lost Information too. It just will end if someone else sell the car and open source Manufacturing for a lower price, like the Librem5 vs Android for a good future. It will take years, of cause.
A free Internet instead of American Online… it was just luck.

Edit: Just fo the Opposite. To develop E-Cars, and enough regenerative energy, you have to take much more mony into the project and the customer can not pay for this directly. Its like the first Mobile Phones with cheaper Hardware for a small Market and bound SIM Cards to that phone for credit over higher calling charge. Not everything is bad. But surveillance is to much.

On a more realistic level, I’d certainly buy a Librem head unit. As it is I’m going to have to scan the car that I am increasingly nervous about having ordered with an SDR dongle and a waterfall plot application in the hopes of finding the cellular antenna, figuring out which pins it’s connected to, and hoping that disconnecting it is enough to have AT&T not be aware of where the car is at all times.
At least you can actually take the stereo out of that car.
The modern car stereo format is SERIOUSLY underemployed. To do basically anything it could be doing but isn’t, you have to pay a subscription for stuff. A Librem head unit could at least come with GPS navigation! Now, I’m not expecting a Librem head unit to do this, because most of the fancy OBD functionality (the kind that gives you sensor readings and individual actuator control) is all proprietary, but they totally could be building that capability into a touchscreen head unit instead of requiring an expensive mechanic’s tablet. They won’t do that because the car companies want you using the dealership for maintenance.

But if Purism were to take action on the car problem by way of building a car, one option is working with a kit car company to make…a somewhat boring and barebones truck, van or SUV that you have to put together yourself (the rules for custom vehicles are far looser) but at least has air conditioning. There’s a bunch of kit cars out there but most of them are sports cars made to be someone’s second vehicle rather than a daily driver, and none of them can haul furniture.
If they were to go the EV route, I’d really want the ability to place a small generator in the car somewhere and drive off that. You know, just until there’s enough charging stations around. And/or the government forces Tesla to let other cars use Tesla charging stations.


If only there was (ahem) a kit car company aligned with their philosophy


I saw that, but it didn’t fit into what I’d describe as a “kit car”. I kinda assumed that phrase always meant a complete vehicle that you put together yourself, which the tabby evo isn’t really sold as. I think they’re marketing it more towards startups that want to actually make it into complete cars, although they’ll still sell it to the public.
But this is just dumb semantics.

So hypothetically if I wanted to buy an EV today (or at least in the near future). What is the nearest thing/company to a “Purism of cars”? (By which I mean, high end, but ownership respecting)

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Good point. I discovered them first while looking for kit cars, and they do offer that option, so that’s kind of how I see them. But you’re right – most of what they do looks to be collaborations with other organizations.