Older Nissan Leafs Lose Their App, Are They The First Of Many?

There was a time when all you needed to use your car was a key. On older vehicles it was a traditional metal key, on more recent ones it had some kind of RFID chip for the immobilizer. As vehicles have become more and more computers on wheels though, the key has disappeared in favor of an electronic key using RF, and in many cases a smartphone application. It’s even used as a selling point: “Look how amazing our car is, you open it with an app!”

Now the obvious flaw is beginning to show in this strategy, as Nissan Leafs made before 2016 and on the road in the UK are to have their app support withdrawn. The manufacturer cites the withdrawal of 2G services, but this seems a little fishy when you consider that the older networks will continue to exist in some form until 2030.

Frankly, there’s part of us that welcomes this news. On one hand, it affects relatively few early adopters. But at the same time, it has the promise of finally educating a gullible public that while a car may last into its second or third decade, the superfluous technology with which it has been loaded probably won’t. If it makes consumers clamor for longer support, or better built vehicles, it can only be a good thing. We’re guessing stories like this will become increasingly common in the next few years — luckily for Leaf owners, its relatively trivial loss of functionality won’t be the worst among them.

If the carmakers have forgotten how to make a vehicle without the dross, we’d be delighted to remind them.

Header: Kārlis Dambrāns, CC BY 2.0.

Thanks [CampGareth] for the tip.

103 thoughts on “Older Nissan Leafs Lose Their App, Are They The First Of Many?

  1. Do consider that people who buy new cars rarely hold on to it for more then 5 years, and they don’t care what happens with it after that.

    I still have one of the older cars. It’s got electronic ignition (probably motor management box) and RFID chip, but all the rest is still mechanical. I’m thinking of keeping it for the rest of my life, even if maintenance seems to be relatively expensive. With newer cars, there is just much more which can go wrong.

    1. True, people don’t tend to hold on to new cars more than a few years, at least in the US, but they do tend to care about resale value. If a particular feature drastically cuts resale value, that reduces the market.

      1. Most I know just give the car to the dealer, roll what they still owe on it into the new loan and will be in debt till the day they die. People actually thinking about the future when they make a major purchase… so refreshing!

        I prefer to buy that car when you are done with it and drive it for about 10 years. I’d rather keep that money and retire sooner!

        1. You don’t know the half of it.

          So stupid!
          I know people that work for stealerships.

          There are people that just sign the papers and take their new cars. They get pennies of the dollar for their trade.
          Chumps. 2k$ for a 40k$ trade. They don’t even look at any number except the new payment.

      1. Sorry, but that’s just not true. The change was made because, when number plates were changed each year, a significant proportion of cars were sold during August leading to massive peaks and troughs in the supply chain and pressure on dealers etc.

          1. There was an August peak but absolutely NOT because any meaningful number of people were “buying a car every year” like the previous poster claimed. That’s insane. Just compare average new car prices and average incomes and it’s obviously nonsense.
            It was just that, if you were going to buy a car in a given year, you’d time your purchase so that the car’s registration would fall in the ‘younger’ year.

    2. 5 years?! Seriously? I don’t think I know anyone who switches cars that often.
      My own most recent ones (from new):
      87-99 (12 yrs)
      99-08 (9)
      03-15 (12)
      08-19 (11)
      15-present (9+)

      Maybe I just hang with the wrong kind of people, not doing enough for the economy. But I really cannot abide spending more than a few percent of my income on cars.

      And, yes, for the next one I’m going to do my best to find one that doesn’t include a radio transmitter, aside from maybe a dumb fob.

      1. I don’t know about the UK. In Germany, most of the cars are switched after 3 years. Commercial and private leasing is normally fixed to a 3 years cycle.
        I think in the US it similar.

        While I myself, I own my car now for 23 years.

        1. The lease terms aren’t that different in the US — they can vary but 3 years is the most common. I think leasing is less popular here, though — only about 20% of new cars are leased, and that reflects fairly recent increases.

        2. German car companies have _perfected_ the warranty timer.
          When the note is paid, maintenance cost hits the same number+ 20%, with precision.

          You can see it in the resale, still hasn’t fully landed.
          VW is running on the reputation the bug earned them (the good air cooled one). Fools and money etc.

      2. Hello from the other side of the bell curve! Longest I’ve had a car is 5 years. Bought one brand new one during the economic crisis of 2008-2012 because a government subsidy made buying a brand new one very profitable. But in general: buy 2-3 year old car after the first owner ate that huge chunk you lose when driving off the lot of the dealership, drive it for a few years, sell it before it loses money due to mileage and being older and… before repairs come up. rinse and repeat.

      3. Well, you’ve been having cars for what 50+ years, totally different kind of thinking.

        Start questioning those who are in their first or second car (probably 30 years younger than you).

      4. With the average car, the resale value drops to about 25% the original in 8-10 years, depending on condition.

        At that point the will drive for another 5 years without major issues, but the higher maintenance requirements may end up doubling the price. Then they either get scrapped for parts, or sold to the next level down as “fixer-uppers” at some low price, so the total cost of ownership is about, let’s say 30% of the new car value.

        So, you have an optimization problem in your hands. You could drive an old car for cheap, or drive a new car until its value has fallen by the same amount plus however much more you want to pay for always having a new car. The cut-off point is going to be somewhere around 3-5 years.

        Plus, 3-5 years is when new cars have their first scheduled maintenance that costs more than a simple oil change – things like timing belt swaps and transmission fluid changes, new tires, etc. all at the same time – so the people who are into that new car juggling game tend to toss the hot potato to the next owner.

        1. We still own a 1999 Toyota Corolla and a 2007 Toyota Rav4. No major work has ever been done on them other than fluids, brakes, tires, batteries. Buy a reputable company’s car (japanese…) and you can have a car that basically outlives you!

          1. I have a 1997 Corolla and it’s on its last legs. I’ve replaced fluids, brakes, some brake lines and brake cylinders and pressure regulators, shocks, power steering pump, belts, tires, alternator, battery, water pump, injectors, welding jobs on the skirts (expensive!), paint jobs after the welding, batteries, petrol tank fill tube…. and it’s still making a weird squealing noise when the engine is cold – might be the clutch bearings. Next I have to replace one of the doors because of rust, and that’s going to be a pain in the arse. The door locks are all messed up and barely open with the key. Valves also need adjustment. Soon it’s going to be timing belt swap time again… one of the headlights is also leaking water and needs a replacement. Oh, and the oxygen sensor might be going as well – smells like gasoline when you start it up.

            The question is, do I keep going, spending $500 every year to have it fixed by a shop and pass the MOT inspection, or do I just scrap it now? If I spend enough money, I could get it fixed for another few years, but the same money would buy me a car that is 10 years younger, and I’m afraid to take longer drives in case it craps out on me and leaves me stranded.

            Old Corollas are like the deacon’s cart – every part is made to such exact specifications that they last exactly as long. Then they all start to break at once.

          2. But the biggest problem is that there are no spare parts anymore. I got quoted a thousand dollars for an original factory steering pump from Japan, so I had to find a scrap part and hope it was fine. There are no refurb kits for it, because it’s a vane pump that gets messed up completely when it breaks.

          3. More to the point, the average car owner doesn’t have a garage or the know-how to do little repairs on their car, so they’re relying on shop services for even the minor stuff – and that gets expensive very quickly. If you need to get to work every day, waiting for the next breakdown is a deal-breaker because it’s such a big hassle.

            So when the car starts to show signs of age, they get scared and skip out. Personally, I’ve done clutch repairs and done my own brakes and shocks, but nowadays I don’t have a place to do it, so I have to pay out of pocket and that’s a major reason why I’m looking for a new car, so I don’t have to care about that stuff.

          4. Oh, and I’m just waiting for the MOT to bounce my car on how scratchy and sandblasted the windscreen is. I have to pick a cloudy day for the inspection to pass. There is no hope finding a replacement that isn’t just as bad, because they just don’t make them anymore.

          5. Re: “Nissan is no longer a Japanese company”

            Nissan’s alliance with Renault (and having a former Renault guy and French national as a CEO from ’99-’17) is clearly a big deal, and depending on your point of view, it may be a disaster, but it doesn’t make them a French company.

            And, although they certainly weren’t bad, Nissans (and Datsuns) before ’99 were almost never as well built or as reliable as Toyotas or Hondas of the same era. Japanese manufacturing quality of those decades was impressive, but it wasn’t universal.

        2. Newer cars are worse. It’s the thin oil. No more 250kM motors. That and the useless features designed to break.

          But there is no point where the average maintenance cost for an old car exceeds the payment on a car loan.
          Unless your taking about madness like Benz or other German garbage. VW puts the engine computer in the space used to drain water from the windscreen. When the POS gets a leaf in the drain the result is predictable…Profit! Benz has wiring harnesses that like to leak oil at the connector and are so well engineered that the oil runs up the outer harness and floods the computer…Profit! They all like to claim their slush boxes are maintenance free, disagreeing with the trans manufacturer (ZF)…Profit.

          Everybody already knows to _run_away_ from English and French cars, soon German too.

    3. Really (5 years)? My truck is over 20, our Nissan Altima is going on 10 (has fobs, no app thank goodness)…. And our two Subaru we plan to keep for a ‘long long’ time too. Dodge truck has has permanent plates as keeping it until we don’t need it anymore. As above mostly mechanical without all the do-dads on it to go wrong. I am a bit worried about my new Forester though as it is plumb loaded with electronic unneeded garbage….. even the emergency brake is a switch… grrrr.

      1. I expect every car made in the past 10 years to be basically throw-away once they start going. The manufacturers only have to maintain spare parts inventory for the warranty of the last of the model sold, and they change models so quickly that parts availability has plummeted and 3rd party spares can’t keep up, so it has gone the way of the laptops: when it breaks couple years out of warranty, you can’t fix it anymore. You can only “extend” it somewhat with scrap parts and DIY, but that’s only going to last you another 2-3 years and then it’s done.

        The industry has made efforts to bring the average scrapping age of cars down, so they could sell more cars, and the legislators are helping them with ever-more stringent regulations so the new cars no longer pass road inspection if there’s anything slightly wrong with them.

        1. Hope that not really true… If so, sad day for the car industry. Hang on to your ‘old’ serviceable vehicles!

          We have no road inspection (basically a another reach in wallet idea) here thank goodness. Drive you old clunker if you wish. Only gotcha is you can be picked for missing head lights, and tail lights that may be out. Or without a license plate, some such. Nothing formal.

  2. “…it has the promise of finally educating a gullible public that while a car may last into its second or third decade, the superfluous technology with which it has been loaded probably won’t.”

    Gullible public? I think that’s a bit harsh, particularly considering quite a few of us are quite aware of how superfluous a lot of today’s vehicle-based technology is. I recently purchased a 2024 C8 Corvette, and it came as a bit of a shock that my navigation system doesn’t work unless I pay for an OnStar data plan (at $25/month)… navi was finally becoming a built-in feature for even the cheapest of vehicles, but the new wave is to make people pay monthly fees to use it (SaaS, shades of BMW seat heaters and the like). We’re being told “Use you cell connection for data,” but the entire point of a built-in nav system was it works even when cell connections aren’t available. I just bought the car and already some of the equipment doesn’t work :-(

    The public isn’t being gullible, we’re simply provided with no other option! And it’s not like we can vote with our wallets and purchase a different vehicle as ALL of the manufacturers are heading in that direction. The public gets no say in the matter.

    1. Re: options: It sounds like the issue with small pickup trucks in the US. “People only want big pickups!” “Well, that’s because that’s all you’re willing to sell to people.”

      1. Well here in europe, smaller cars are a thing (and a practical, sane choice most of the time) but still people spring for stupidly oversized monstrosities, only to then complain they can’t pull them into parking spots even with all the assist features.

        1. Indeed, though also has to be said not everyone can fit or fit their needs into the smaller end cars practically, so it isn’t just folks buying the larger stuff for stupid reasons (though plenty of that clearly happens).

          Also not convinced the newer models are as impressively TARDIS like as the old ones, while the middle ground between the small European cars and giant SUV style vehicle seems to almost not exist in new vehicles, so if you need a little more than the small cars of today can give you…

          1. “not everyone can fit or fit their needs into the smaller end cars practically”

            You are correct.

            But.. As I make my commute to the office and back each day (in my small car) I find myself surrounded by pickup trucks that would have been considered to be huge 20 years ago. And the vast majority of them have nothing in the back. Just shiny paint, no tell-tale scratches to show they were ever used for hauling. Just a single fat-ass driver in the two or four-seat cab on their way to their own office jobs just like me.

          2. I sometimes do a little unscientific personal study, when waiting at a pedestrian stoplight in the morning, counting how many passing cars actually have more than one person inside. It’s about one in ten. Whatever the understandable personal reasons for those people may be, it’s altogether very inefficient and wasteful. And for those people, to choose driving a needlessly huge car is just adding insult to injury.

          3. I am by human standards towards the huge end – stuff I can actually sit in comfortably is rare enough, see out of while the seat is in a position the controls are sanely useable even rarer. And I’m not that huge – not everyone has much choice.

            > it’s altogether very inefficient and wasteful
            Really not easy to make that conclusion from such a study – you have no idea if that car is now single person because the driver has dropped off passengers on their way to wherever they were going or is taking the slightly scenic route to pick up their car share etc.

            Plus most folks don’t buy multiple vehicles and doing that that is hugely wasteful and inefficient too… Would you be taking a really fuel efficient focused commuter motorbike everywhere? Or somehow always manage to have passengers?(presumably kidnapped).

            It just isn’t possible to do so practically – folks generally buy one vehicle and use it for everything, and most folks won’t even touch a motorbike. One vehicle is way better than having many vehicles with all that embodied energy from their construction sitting around rusting unused, costing you in an ongoing way to remain road legal. So when you need that larger vehicle sometimes the extra cost to haul it around the rest of the time you could have used a smaller one is often going to be irrelevantly tiny in comparison. It is only if you basically never need more than the tiny hatchback it is definitively wasteful, and that is basically impossible to know for any single observation – really got to stalk those folks to figure that out.

          4. @Panondorf,
            The group you’re observing doesn’t represent all pickup drivers; it represents those who (you believe) are also commuting to an office job. If/when they are driving through a pasture, they’re not stuck in traffic with you for you to notice them. I see plenty of useless pickups, such as the ones with large low profile mud tires which can’t leave pavement and can’t tow or haul. But that doesn’t tell me how many are out there and actually being used properly.

            I would say that if you take care of your equipment, there mightn’t be any big obvious scratches all over it for most ways you could be using the pickup. I’m not going to scratch my bed up if I’m hauling a bunch of 50lb bags of material, or some lumber, a motorbike, or furniture/large appliances. Not that you could tell, because I use a roll-up tonneau cover to reduce drag when I am not using that capability.

            Like most people, I find that buying, maintaining, and insuring two vehicles in order to avoid ever using a pickup for personal transport can be very financially unrealistic. Especially if the person drives on poorly maintained roads that cause more wear and tear to a smaller car than the larger one. The savings in fuel for a statistical avg of 37 miles/day may not make a large difference unless you look at hybrids and electric cars. If we use a nissan versa as an example of an economy car, I am reading it has around a 35mpg rating. A conventional full size base model pickup might get two-thirds of that when commuting, if it hasn’t been modified in ways that worsen its economy. Something compact that still has somewhat of a bed, like a ford maverick, can actually be just as good as the versa, but one of the bigger ones with a less efficient engine may be closer to half as good. Something modified in an uneconomical way and driven with a lead foot might be one-third as good.

            So if someone’s average of 37 miles a day was almost completely composed of trips that a cheap economy car could be used for, then if their current pickup was only half the efficiency of the versa, and we ignore insurance and everything… At a fuel cost of $3.50/gallon they would break even on the purchase price of a Versa (the lower models are around $17-$19k new) in about 13 years. I won’t push further on that point since it’s a bit of a contrived example, but it’s a good thought for perspective I think. Once someone’s due to replace their vehicle either way, the equation looks better for getting a commuter instead of a pickup, but renting a pickup when needed is only sometimes possible, especially if you’re more concerned with the possibility of scratching/damaging something you don’t own than the likelihood of that happening.

      2. We don’t have small trucks in the US anymore for three reasons, and none of them are because manufacturers don’t want to sell something that consumers want.
        1. The Chicken Tax, which imposes a 25% import tax on light trucks imported into the US.
        2. Required safety equipment and safety standards that don’t exist for light trucks elsewhere in the world
        3. CAFE standards which make it impossible to manufacture a small light truck in the US

      3. It’s not because that’s all they are willing to sell to people. Muh greedy corporations would absolutely love to sell something like that new Toyota kei truck that’s only 10k. It would sell like absolute hotcakes, they’d make a fortune immediately.

        You can’t make a light truck in the US because you are not legally allowed to. Look up CAFE regulations. Democrats in cities during the Obama admin voted for the big expensive truck thing, and of course they are the ones who are ignorant of the causes and complain about it and blame rednecks for it.

        And then the cash for clunkers program (also Obama-era) absolutely nuked the used car market, so now what do you see everywhere you go? Contractors driving around beat up Rangers from the 1990s, which suddenly resale for 20k. Because again, it is illegal to build or import one of those now. I’ve had four or five people desperately try to buy my absolute hoopdie of a truck from me while sitting at a stop light in the past couple years, it’s ludicrous.

        1. I almost agree :) . I have a 6 foot bed in my ’97, but with the tailgate down, I can fit the 8′ plywood/sheet rock sheets in just fine. Reason I didn’t get an 8 foot bed is truck wouldn’t fit in my garage! otherwise I would have got the bigger bed… So it goes. Sometimes one has to compromise. That said, I don’t see why we have to have full four doors in a truck… Not if you use it as a truck that is. But that is just me.

    2. I’ve been using OSMAND for years. You just load the maps onto your phone off-line and you don’t need a data connection at all.

      First, i don’t want to blab around my location constantly to some silly server (I even worry about the phone connection itself). And secondly, I also use it when hiking in the woods, when I am quite far from most services. I do have to add a power bank to charge my phone a few times when hiking a weekend. If I had to do this navigation though a data connection, it would probably use a lot more juice too.

      But there is indeed a trend to attempt to charge people for silly services, and the gullible fools are the most likely to fall for it. And they are indeed removing options. I don’t go hiking much, and it’s been years ago since I last updated and donated to OSMAND. Back then, there was a limitation of only being able to download 3 “countries” (regions) for the “free” version. I’ve heard some rumors they are making it more difficult too.

      Often it’s difficult to remember to donate or otherwise contribute a bit to open source software, and without enough contributions I see far to many open source projects whither and die, or himp along on half a leg. bCNC and FlatCAM are a few such examples, but there are many more.

      1. But don’t you still need a GPS fix with OSMAND to know where you are? Not entireky offline.
        There are (or were) methods of finding one’s location without using GPS.

        1. Nah, you lose some of the functionality, but you can still operate the map without it. Or you could with the version I was using from f-droid last time. Some of the route-planning should work, though it may be awkward to update your starting/current location manually, and I assume it will not be able to tell you which lanes go where like it normally does.

      2. “First, i don’t want to blab around my location constantly to some silly server”

        I prefer a service that tells me there is an accident or congestion ahead and better yet re-routes me. I drive an express way, across a river and between corn fields where exits are far apart to get to work and back. It’s normally a fast, uneventful commute. But.. if I enter that expressway not knowing traffic is stopped ahead I can be there a LONG time! It’s bound to happen a few times per year.

        A pay service might somehow collect their own data but I don’t want to pay and even if I did it would have to be limited to just the most in-demand roads.

        A poopular and free service uses that tracking of it’s users to detect those slowdowns and stops. I see the privacy issue… but that’s the cost to get what I want.

        I wish everyone felt this way. Because then the data would be that much better.

        Hiking… that’s a different issue. I’d rather cache the maps ahead and save battery.

        I think an interesting open source project might be some sort of nav that shares positioning data anonymously via a p2p network for decentralized traffic warning. Actual routing and map storage then would all be done locally on the device.

        I suspect it would never perform as well but… it would be a neat project.

      3. The point of online navigation is that it has up-to-date information about roadworks, congestion, speed limits and speed cameras, and you don’t have to remember to update your maps every time you set off.

        Offline navigation works great if you just want to find your way somewhere, but that’s about it. It will happily guide you down roads that are closed, which is what happened to me once when I drove past a sign that said “No winter maintenance.” and had to turn around after ten kilometers where the road just ended in a snow bank.

        1. That’s a novel perspective for me.

          “Back in my day” the point of online navigation was that your garmin, your tomtom, or your paper maps were loaded with information from months to years ago, depending when you last updated them. So by always getting the most recent map data, it would not fail to tell you about the new toll road or some other major change on your route. I never used to consider physical road work and temporary detour signs or emergency lights and cones by a stopped vehicle as part of that data. An offline map can easily update at night or something, to get everything but that final piece of real time data.

          1. For that offline map to update at night, you still need an active connection to the device to do the update. If the car has no active data plan, that won’t happen and your maps will be years out – unless you do the update manually, which can be next to impossible.

          2. Yeah that last part was more about Osmand or equivalent, on a phone or tablet that may have internet when you’re stopped at home or a hotel. Checking for updates opportunistically like that is sort of the end of the line for offline use, before you logically must have an ongoing data connection for the live features you mentioned. Makes sense if some of the cars decided to act as an interface for the phone that actually has the nav/map data.

    3. Pretty sure there are some options out there, so you can vote with your wallet. The problems being doing enough research to understand what you are are buying into when the company don’t want to just tell you they are going to up charge you every month to have heated seats. And then once you find some good options I’d bet those vehicles are probably more expensive niche brands, more industrial vehicles and/or cars built for an export market where it is easier and more profitable for the manufacturer to keep the annoyingly implemented ‘extra feature’ out than actually bother to support it in the first place so far from home.

      I wouldn’t say we have no choice, its just annoying hard to know what you are really buying vs what you thought you were getting..

      1. No, you cannot vote with your wallet because there are not any options out there. They were made illegal between 2008 and 2016. Car companies cannot build them or ship them to the US, unless you are a private importer and are capable of buying it on a foreign market yourself, paying 10k to have it shipped over here, and then doing all the paperwork and legal loopholes of getting it licensed

      2. > so you can vote with your wallet

        There are tradeoffs. I can pick a simple car with none of the modern doodads, but then I’d have to pick something like a Dacia Logan with whopping 75 horsepowers and a crash rating of a plastic bucket.

    4. Let me get this straight, you want your car to have an always-on wireless/cellular internet connection, practically forever, and you don’t want to pay for it at all? Are you hoping for the same for your mobile phone and home interest connection (hey, I bought this phone new, why do I pay a monthly fee)? Makes me wonder if you are also upset about having to put gas in the car every few hundred miles?

      At the risk of sounding mean, I have say the fact your bought a brand new Corvette does kind of scream “gullible”. Well it certainly doesn’t scream “practical” or “money well spent”.

      1. Never understood why some have to criticize what others spend their money on. I’ll spend my money how I like, and you can spend as you like :) . Ie. If I buy a Ferrari … that is my business. Practical or not :) . Some people have ‘disposable’ income where 100,000 is like $10 to you or me :) . More power to them. Keeping the money in circulation rather than hoarding it. Nuff said.

        As as car with internet access… Your CELL PHONE should be your access point and navigation tool. I say ‘NOT necessary’ (I won’t pay for it) in a vehicle. Same with the music service they try to sale you. “Just $30 a month or whatever”. Sheesh. Try to bleed your wallet yet some more. But alas try to buy a decent vehicle without all the electronic garbage. No can do. Base model even comes with. At least you can opt out paying for service (usually) BUT it is still installed in your car and they can turn it on/off on their whim, listen to conversations, etc… Don’t like that. Some I understand even have a camera facing you to tell if you are falling asleep (so they say).

      2. To be fair, a minimal data connection of a couple bucks a month could easily be paid for by having a portion of car buyers’ purchase price invested somewhere to pay interest. If structured like an annuity it’d be fairly cheap, since over time the population of cars would break and stop using it, and eventually the wireless standard would be outdated and they’d all stop while the company kept the money.

        Even if the company uses the money for themselves in the normal way instead of separating a portion to buy an insurance product to cover the bill, the same effect happens. If the car company decides to cover the data bills, they can still figure that the small ongoing payment is a gradual repayment of however much of the car’s purchase price they consider a premium for the feature.

  3. I’d only buy an EV if I can install a fully open contol unit and have total control with 0 mobile connectivity just like older simple cars that had EFI. Apps beyond a simple Bluetooth one are not needed

      1. looky looky there is support for the Nissan Leaf this article is writing about. Interesting that the project started out providing a window into the Tesla Roadster control and battery systems but has plugins for many other vehicles now. And it provides WiFi, GPS and mobile wireless.

      1. As for me and my family. Probably not. Don’t see a reason to do so. If battery tech comes along that allows for < 5 minutes to 'fill the tank' with a 500 mile range in mountainous country in cold weather. And has a good minimum 15-20 life on the battery. And in a decent sized SUV that is cost competitive. Then I might think about it. Of course minimum electronic add-on do-dads as well would be a plus.

  4. I wonder what the nuclear warhead HEMP attack resistance of these new vehicles are which require so much RF comm link and other electronics to start.

    JULY 10, **2008**


    Dr. GRAHAM. We tested about 50 vehicles. About 10 of them—and we only tested them to 25 kilovolts per meter, which is the kind of threat you would get from more ordinary designs of nuclear weapons—about 10 percent of them stopped running when we tested them at that level. All but one or two of them could be restarted by just switching off the power and then switching on the key again. The computer basically stops the car, but it can be reset by turning off the power. There were one or two of them that actually had computer chip failures in the vehicle and had to be towed back to the dealership to have the chips replaced.

    It may not sound too bad, but if you think about what happens to the traffic, say, in the D.C. area on a given morning, when there are 3 or 4 accidents, you can imagine 10 percent of the vehicles on the road suddenly not running anymore. I suspect that would lead to a large number of further accidents and incidents. And so it would be a while before those vehicles would have good transportation access again.

    But leaving vehicles turned off, parked, is about the best you can do with cars you already have, and encouraging Detroit to continue to make cars so they are not vulnerable to the transients is another good step.

      1. Yeah, did this guy step out of a time machine? We famously nuked our own manufacturing industry and shipped it all to foreign countries in exchange for extremely foolish short-term profits decades ago, and Detroit is now a post-apocalyptic network of trap houses

    1. BTW, a HEMP attack is an ideal asymmetric warfare attack as it doesn’t kill directly and can cause incredible damage and disruption to an advanced country while a response in kind against the less advanced country launching it, say North Korea, wouldn’t be nearly as harmful or act as much of a deterrent. Thus, the US has an ABM system which can only defend against small attacks. Missile based ABM systems are inherently flawed because they can easily be overwhelmed by larger attacks using many decoys accurately simulating the characteristics of the warhead carrying reentry vehicles.

    2. “I wonder what the nuclear warhead HEMP attack resistance of these new vehicles are”
      Kind of a moot point because they will start working again rather quickly. Unless you can sustain regular pulses over a period of time then an EMP attack of any kind is just a temporary inconvenience.

        1. I don’t know either because the last mention of TESTED vehicle EMP resistance that I can find is that 2008 Congressional report which doesn’t address my question about what will happen 15 years later to modern vehicles which require wireless electronics to even start.

          Also, they didn’t describe what cars they tested and what years. I would hope that they would have tested a range of years to statistically represent what was on US roads at the time which would have meant a significant percentage of cars even older hat 2008.

          Besides vehicle effects, they predict traffic light and gasoline station pump failures.


  5. If it’s not free and open source software, the “owner” is completely at their mercy.

    It could be worse. If the company gets pwnd by a state actor, automatic updates of the proprietary software through satellite could happen and brick every car in a chosen country. Might be in the process now and could be tomorrow’s news.

    1. They don’t even need to get pwnd by a state actor. Too often companies simply comply with state actors, look at what those Canadian banks did to truckers when given illegitimate government orders. Cars, and most other things, need to be immunised against remote updates and kept as offline as possible (in the case of a car I see no reason to be online in the first place, you don’t need software updates if it was competently designed in the first place), to protect against governments turning connected devices in to agents of their own.

  6. When I was a child, you needed two keys for the car, one for the ignition, one for the trunk.
    To paraphrase a certain Scottish engineer, “The more they complicate the plumbing, the easier it is
    to stop up the drain” –Montgomery Scott. The car my wife has has a back up camera. It doesn’t have maps.
    Well, the dealer had to lend us a loaner car, that thing beeps, boops, dings, and buzzes for all sorts of things.
    It has maps, backup camera, and all sorts of sensors. There are more distractions than a three ring circus.
    Maybe it’s just me, but to be quite honest, I personally don’t need all that stuff. Simple is better.

    1. It’s not just you. I dread the day when my current car goes tango uniform and I have to replace it.

      I drove a rental car for a couple of weeks of vacation. I was so glad I didn’t own that damned thing. I don’t need and don’t want animated crap blinking at me from the “infotainment system.” A radio and a simple navigation system and I’m happy.

      The damned thing had projectors in the side mirrors. When you unlocked the car, the mirrors swiveled out and projected the car manufacturer’s logo on the ground.

      1. Manufacturer supplied navigation systems are often poorly designed, expensive to update and impossible to repair if they fail. I prefer a Garmin unit that sticks to my windshield, has free lifetime updates and cost me $25 at Goodwill. Doesn’t depend on cellular, and I’ll buy another one if it breaks.

    2. My current vehicle has random announcements and pop-up while driving. If I turned the know for the fan, why a pop up and voice announcement? Why, in the name of bog, a pop-up that requires acknowledgement that ONLY comes up while the vehicle is moving, requiring changing focus to the infotainment screen? That one is the warning about distracted driving, of all things.

      I did disconnect the antenna lines from hte comm modules not long after I got this one. I put terminators on instead.

  7. They mention 2G here explicitly. But it is a problem, that 3G is phased out for a lot of things. The first cars, that is not limited to EV, were equipped with “modern” technology, when they were developed and sold. But as technology moves faster and faster that is a problem for systems (cars, trains, industrial equipment) that is used for a long time.

    It’s the same selling point of Teslas. Elon said, in future you just need a software update and you will have a self-driving car. Know the first Teslas hardware became obsolete and they will never get such software updates, because hardware development moved on. That is the same in many areas. As a manufacturer you cannot support your old hardware for a long time even if other parts of the hardware needs to run longer.

    1. You don’t lose anything critical but the features I use and will lose are 1) remotely triggering the heating/cooling and 2) remotely starting to charge.

      Imagine walking from your office to your car parked in an uncovered car park. It’s winter, you’re cold, it’s snowing. When you reach the car you’ll have to get out the ice scraper for a few minutes to clear the windows. Alternatively press a button on your phone when you leave the office to run the heating for 15 minutes clearing all the windows and letting you drive off as soon as you reach the car. Same story in summer heat but pre-cooling the car.

      Remotely starting a charge is useful as I have a car managed timer that charges when power should be cheap but with a variable tariff it may be cheaper outside that window so beneficial to start charging earlier.

      I’d happily pay for a subscription for these features or pay for a 4G upgrade but neither are an option. You’ve got to go third party with OVMS.

      1. I’ve lived in cold country all my life here in MT. No biggie to go out and open door (key or fob), start vehicle. Then scrape. No need for silly remote start. I’ll never pay for that ‘convenience’. That’s just plain lazy ;) .

        In an electric vehicle ‘running’ for 15 minutes might just drain your battery too…. Ha!

        1. I shouldn’t criticize though… Sorry. One man’s convenience is another’s annoyance. Luckily, remote start is still just an option. Buy if you wish, … or not. I chose not.

        2. Like any convenience once you’ve tried it it’s hard to go back, but Nissan are forcing me to go back.

          On an objective level I think most people would say sitting in a warm car is better than standing outside a cold one scraping the windows. Some cars take an age to generate heat when idling too, though I hear newer petrol cars have a PTC heater to warm up faster. My parents 90s to early 2000s Renaults and Fiats sure didn’t.

  8. “There was a time when all you needed to use your car was a key.”

    You must be the opposite of the stereotypical grandparent. When they were trudging up-hill both ways to school you must have been going down! What awesome savings that must be not requiring any sort of fuel or energy!

  9. Auto mfrs would *like* people to change their cars every 3 years,

    2016 RAV4 (bought used) and 2007 Jeep Wrangler (apparently WAY past its useful life) here. I have only bought one new car in my life. Can’t see the benefit. Would never buy a car that required cellular service to operate, since there are places in this country where cell phones do not work (strange but true).

    And, yes, I’m a Boomer. I feel it’s important, when buying things like cars, to distinguish between “necessary to function as a car” and “stuff that’s fun to have but doesn’t impact basic function”. Cell phone integration is most definitely in the latter category, and a “solution” to a problem that never existed.

    People nowadays need to better understand the KISS principle and how it can affect them down the road (pun intended)

    1. Considering the buzz surrounding the Hilux Champ only available in Taiwan. I’m thinking a lot of people agree with you. The only way to get a basic vehicle is to fight business users for a ‘service spec’ model.

      I’d love to see a basic transport Tesla modification that removed all the superfluous modules. In reality I think it barely needs a body control module to control HVAC. The throttle and brake signals can travel the CANBUS directly to the motor controller. (I suppose you’d be back to 1960s muscle car levels of chassis stability given the power on tap, but you could learn to drive it yourself)

  10. The BMW i3 also suffered from this when 2G services were shut down in the US. Older models were not offered an upgrade path to the newer 4G control unit so all app functionality was lost.

    When looking at new vehicles I haven’t found a dealer that can point to any documentation on how long the services will be supported, how long the built-in Android OS will get security updates, or even tell me which features I’m seeing in the car on the test drive are mine to keep (as much as that means anything with over-the-air updates) and which are a “free preview” that will come with some unknown subscription cost in the future.

  11. I own one of those Leafs and it’s going to suck losing my remote control heating. It’s really nice having what feels like a luxury feature on a car worth so little. I’ve never had to scrape ice off the windows or wait on the car to heat up. I don’t own carry an ice scraper though I do have a spray bottle of de-icer for the LED headlights that don’t put out enough heat to melt ice.

    I could buy something newer but they’ll all have the same problem, cars last 20 years and technology doesn’t so even a car bought today with 4G will probably get disconnected in its lifespan. Maybe paying a subscription would encourage manufacturers to consider how to keep people paying in year 19, which means upgradeable radios, but maybe they wouldn’t care. One theory about Nissan’s shut down is Carwings and the head unit are too ancient to support modern encryption and stay secure online so upgrading the radio wouldn’t help without replacing other parts.

    I’m also miffed that Nissan gave so little notice about the shut down, it was a little over one month. If it really is about 2G shutdown they had years of notice but gave us none.

  12. A friend of mine installed a very expensive Webasto heater in his campervan, it even had remote turn on via minicall, a few years later the minicall system was defunct, he paid lots to have it converted to NMT, wich now also is defunct, and now there is no other uppgrades

  13. Well it seems that people simply have to get over the idea that just because they spend tens of thousands of dollars on something that the actually own it, welcome to rental world, miss a payment (or not) and you’re bricked.

    1. Or, as plenty of ‘smart’ appliance manufacturers have shown – even if you bought something up front, all they need to do is change the TOS to make it a subscription and then brick your shit with an OTA update if you don’t pay.

  14. I have a 2012 Leaf. Nissan used to sell a replacement 3g radio for $150, and I bought one because at the time (5 years ago) we already had no 2g coverage. The new radio never worked. They refused to refund the money because it was an optional upgrade. Point is, their practices regarding remote control have been pretty lousy for a long time.

  15. I had one of those leaves and the app never worked because of the old radio. There are third party options to not only restore functionality but even include more functionality than stock. I don’t see a manufacturer dropping support for a non functional feature a big problem. Especially when alternatives are actively available. Should we really expect the, to keep the app working indefinitely for a hardware broken car?

    1. “Should we really expect the, to keep the app working indefinitely for a hardware broken car?”

      No. You should expect a car that functions properly without the need of an “app.”

  16. >while a car may last into its second or third decade,

    With the advent of EV’s that’s not going to be true for much longer. Pretty soon you’ll be replacing your car every 5 years whether you want to or not – just like phones.

  17. I have one of these, the most annoying thing is it makes you accept their terms of service each time you turn it on, this is for some sort of remote data collection – one lives in hope that the stupid dialog will go when the service does – but it’s unlikely

  18. Most people (that is people who are probably not on here posting) dont BUY a new or used car. They take out finance. They never actually pay for it nor own it. They “rent” it for a few years and trade in for another one on finance.
    And this is the model that society wants you to follow now for everything.
    Perpetual debt allows you to “buy” the things you want without having to save for them.
    The monthly recurring revenue model which business wants.

    And it also keeps you poorer if you’re dumb enough to believe that you must have the latest gear becos FOMO, whilst pricing out those who dont want to use debt to finance everything but otherwise suffer from the inflation people in debt are causing.

    Maybe one day the global ponzi scheme will collapse. But not today.

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