Tag: software

By on September 10, 2020

On Thursday, Toyota Motor Corp.’s research division announced it would create an $800 million global investment fund. While important news, Toyota’s dispatch was expected. The business had previously mentioned it was assembling a new holding company called Woven in July, noting that the entity would be focused on heavily upon software development and finding new partners for its most advanced projects.

Most of those seem to be in support of the “mobility as a service” concept that seeks to remove customers’ ability to own vehicles. The rest are interested in promoting alternative energy solutions or social engineering how we’ll be living in the future via “smart cities.” The fund also seems to be helping replace Toyota Research Institute-Advanced Development (TRI-AD). In fact, the Japanese R&D arm was actually the one that announced the $800 million “global growth-stage investment fund” that officially creates Woven Capital.

(Read More…)

By on July 31, 2020

With regulatory bodies the world over forcing the automotive sector to prioritize efficiency over mightiness, industry rhetoric has gradually shifted away from the powertrain. While every brand still wants to squeeze out all available power from ubiquitous four-cylinder motors, providing excess is only a priority in a handful of cases catering directly to enthusiasts.

The idea of a big, brutish luxury car with a monstrous engine still exists, but it’s being supplanted by technology-driven features catering to tech-focused minds and the green movement. Modern luxury is based in connectivity, applications, and distancing one from the experience of driving altogether  or at least that’s what the automotive industry now seems to believe.

And they may have a point. While we’re well aware those advocating “mobility” desperately want it so that they can tap into your data (to enhance revenue using the same grimy business tactics favored by big tech firms), carmakers also need something shiny to dangle in front of consumers so we’ll buy the latest and greatest product. The tech sector is also booming right now, and the industry’s dying to get investors back on its side after seeing the Wall Street performance of EV companies  especially Tesla Motors.

Even the traditionalists at Toyota are buying into it, announcing an important push into software development as they attempt to craft the next industry-standard operating system for cars. It’s also the song Volkswagen Group has sung ever since Dieselgate. Meanwhile, Audi recently explained its own commitment to software after its parent company (VW) tasked it with ensuring the botched launches of the ID.3 and Mk8 Golf don’t become commonplace.

(Read More…)

By on July 29, 2020

Toyota announced the creation of a new holding company that will oversee its software development initiatives this week. While our default response is to gripe about the nebulous concept of “mobility companies” and the industry’s obnoxious emphasis on shifting data, we also understand that it pays to have someone on hand who knows their way around a line of code.

It wasn’t all that long go that Volkswagen was bragging about taking software seriously, only to be publicly shamed by the media when bunk programming screwed up the launch of numerous physical products. The cynical side of the brain knows this could have been avoided by ignoring unnecessary connectivity features and a potentially ill-conceived attempt to digitize the entire cabin.

We’re sympathetic to the nature of competition and the appeal “newness” has on customers. The automotive industry has seen the sea of riches amassed by tech companies harvesting data and knows which way the wind is blowing. No brand wants to be seen as technologically inferior, even if many of the newer features in modern cars aren’t really in service of anything other than marketing. Yet the “software first” mentality that has started presiding over vehicle development seems somewhat counterproductive, and Toyota may have just bought into it hook, line and sinker.

Then again, maybe it’s a great play and we’re just not seeing the big picture. So let’s dive in and see what we find. (Read More…)

By on July 23, 2020

While the summer months are normally the perfect time to take a road trip, New York has mandated that any jaunts out of state require a 14-day quarantine upon return — and any location one might want to visit on a lark has a strong likelihood of being closed to visitors.

Seems like a lot of hassle with very little payoff for yours truly, so I’ve been escaping into old films and television shows before they’re cancelled for being offensive. Video games have also become a staple of the modern pandemic lifestyle and, if you read my review of the Ford Simulator franchise, you’ll recall that my tastes skew toward terrible, automotive-themed DOS programs from the late 1980s.

Today’s entry is actually pretty decent, however — or at least it would have been at the time of its release. (Read More…)

By on July 15, 2020

Volkswagen Group plans to transfer software development leadership to its Audi division following an embarrassingly high number of technical glitches on some of its upcoming products.

With the industry committed to making sure tomorrow’s cars more closely resemble today’s phones, some automakers have decided to do the brunt of their coding in-house. VW decided to increase the share of its software it’s responsible for — targeting 60 percent of all the code that goes into its products by 2025 — but problems cropped up en route to its destination. (Read More…)

By on June 4, 2020

Volkswagen Group is moving Porsche CEO Oliver Blume over to the core brand, necessitating a broader employment shift within the company to ensure other nameplates aren’t left without leadership. German outlet Auto Motor und Sport indicated earlier in the week that a management shakeup was afoot that would see Blume take over the VW brand in order for group head Herbert Diess to focus on managing the bigger picture.

Blume is rumored to have been tapped to help the company address rampant issues with its upcoming electric vehicles. If you’ll recall, VW has struggled with software issues and production holdups for some time. Last we checked, VW’s plan was to launch the ID.3 with less-than-ideal computer code that it intends to fix later.

Sounds like a bad one.  (Read More…)

By on May 18, 2020

We don’t know what’s going on with Volkswagen’s software, but if the automaker doesn’t sort it out quickly, it runs the risk of becoming infamous for it. Technical glitches have plagued the launch of Volkswagen Group’s most recent models; so much so, it’s starting to become a trend.

Obviously, there were “software issues” that allowed VW to circumvent emissions testing before the Dieselgate scandal kicked off in 2015, but few people actually believe that was the result of rogue computer code, rather than a corporate attempt to dodge strengthened environmental regulations.

These new issues appear to be generalized glitches stemming from the company’s jump into vehicular connectivity. With the upcoming ID.3 EV, Volkswagen opted to keep its summer 2020 launch and handle existing software glitches (the car had already entered limited production for first-edition models) with a software fix offered at a later date. Yet the more we learn about it, the worse the overall situation appears. Rumors suggest the ID.3 may have a slower-than-anticipated roll-out, with fewer features than originally advertised.

We’re now learning the same might be true for the Mk8 Golf — another new model experiencing technical glitches. This generation saw the model swap to a digitized interface offering enhanced connectivity, in line with the industry’s push to make cars more modern. Sadly, these changes haven’t panned out ideally for either the automaker or its customers. VW has had to stall deliveries of the new Golf to address another round of software issues.  (Read More…)

By on February 26, 2020

vw
Series production of the Volkswagen ID.3 began last November, but examples have yet to reach paying customers. The compact electric hatchback, seen as a people’s car for a new, greener age, is the vanguard of a massive EV product offensive from the auto giant. VW had hoped to give the model (which we won’t see here) a big, showy sales launch.

That launch, scheduled for Europe this summer, may not go ahead as planned. A report out of Germany claims the car contains so many bugs, an army of over 10,000 technicians is now tasked with fixing it. (Read More…)

By on October 4, 2019

Image: Ford

Ford Motor Company may have sidelined thousands of 2020 Ford Explorers and Lincoln Aviators due to hazy manufacturing issues, but it seems many vehicles slipped through the quality dragnet and into the hands of consumers.

You saw a eyebrow-raising walkaround of a dealer-fresh Aviator here the other week. Owners, however, get to slip behind the wheel and, in some cases, experience a bewildering array of symptoms. (Read More…)

By on May 16, 2019

tesla model-s-rear, image: Tesla Motors

The spontaneous combustion of several Tesla vehicles in recent weeks has forced the automaker into action, issuing over-the-air updates in an attempt to snuff out the problem… and smother another round of bad PR. To its credit, Tesla seems to be taking the matter seriously.

The update covers the company’s Model S and X vehicles, regardless of country. Meanwhile, investigations continue into the cause of recent blazes in Shanghai, San Francisco, and Hong Kong. (Read More…)

By on September 13, 2018

Tesla’s latest over-the-air update appears to have caused at least a few drivers to lose all Autopilot functionality. While the vehicles seem otherwise intact, the semi-autonomous driving mode that was supposed to be improved by the latest firmware installation ended up a little buggy. That’s unfortunate for Tesla — a company that could do without additional bad publicity.

Luckily, minor software issues are exactly that — minor. This isn’t on the same scale as Tesla’s CEO promising to go public or pretending to smoke weed online. It isn’t even as big of a deal as the company losing another high-ranking executive, which also happened this week.  (Read More…)

By on June 5, 2018

In 1987, Ford Motor Company published a game for the long-defunct disk operating system universally known as “DOS.” In reality, the software was less of a game and more of a digital showroom that allowed you to demo the company’s 1988 lineup from the comfort of your personal computer. As marketing materials go, you couldn’t have done much better than this for the era, and now it’s a top-rate piece of automotive nostalgia.

Ford Simulator was essentially the car-based equivalent to the CDs distributed by America Online, but before such a thing even existed. The software just had a way of casually showing up and finding its way into your computer room. This was an era when promotional materials were physical and technology had reached a point where the industry could experiment a little.

Tragically, the internet has eliminated this phenomenon like a dog with rabies. You don’t see much physical media at automotive trade shows anymore and any games that include branded models come through publishers that are able to work out a deal with automakers.

However, for almost 10 years, Ford produced a series of computer programs many of us remember fondly — despite being objectively terrible to play. (Read More…)

By on May 30, 2018

tesla model 3

The Consumer Reports review that criticized the Tesla Model 3’s stopping distance and all-consuming touchscreen seems to have sparked CEO Elon Musk’s recent spat with the media, but a change of heart at CR might cause Musk to think twice about his proposed rating site for journalists.

After the automaker improved the model’s 60-0 mph stopping distance by nearly 20 feet (a feat accomplished via an over-the-air software update), the publication bestowed the car with a “recommended” rating, despite lingering concerns over certain features. Maybe the torches-and-pitchforks crowd can clear off CR‘s lawn now. (Read More…)

By on November 22, 2017

uber volvo

In the midst of Uber Technologies’ corporate restructuring and cultivation of a squeaky-clean new image, the ride-hailing company was apparently hiding a dark secret. Striving for transparency, the company has now confessed that hackers stole the personal information of 57 million customers and drivers in October of 2016.

The coverup, apparently conducted by the firm’s chief security officer and another staff member, involved over $100,000 in payments to the hackers in the hopes to keep them quiet. The data lost included names, email addresses, and phone numbers of around 50 million Uber riders across the globe. Another 7 million drivers were also subjected to the digital attack, with over half a million of those losing their driver’s license numbers.  (Read More…)

By on October 11, 2017

uber volvo

Uber Technologies is about to be probed to a degree that would make even the most compliant alien abductee blush. The company is now looking at a minimum of five criminal investigations from the U.S. Justice Department regarding claims of bribes, illicit software usage, unfair marketing practices, corporate espionage, questionable pricing strategies, and theft of a competitor’s intellectual property.

The ride-hailing firm is also involved in dozens of lawsuits from from customers and employees — and one very public suit with autonomous research rival Waymo. But Uber’s skirting of the law was what made it so profitable to begin with. Its take-no-prisoners attitude may have been the thing that ultimately ousted founder and CEO Travis Kalanick and severely tarnished its corporate image, but it’s also an aspect that ensure its success. Still, nobody likes learning how the sausage is made and every look behind Uber’s curtain revealed another fresh horror the press couldn’t resist mentioning — including yours truly. (Read More…)

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