It's a dang shame that the Pontiac Firebird used in the 1980s TV show "Knight Rider" wasn't electric. Otherwise, that creepy voice would've had a lot more to tell the Hasslehoff.

Plug-in vehicle makers like Nissan, Ford and Tesla are equipping their car with top-of-the-line data-collection technology in addition to their advanced electric-drive powertrain systems, the BBC reports. Vehicle makers are using sensors, wireless connections and GPS systems to track everything from charging patterns to driving habits and trip information to air-conditioning and heating use. As Ford's Mike Tinskey told the BBC, "We actually have data now. We know our customer better than we've ever known them before because of these telematics."

Automakers are using the data to better track and share how drivers use the relatively nascent plug-in technology. For instance, Ford says its plug-in drivers typically take four trips a day (three of them all-electric) with the average distance at about 13 miles. Nissan Leaf drivers travel about 35 miles a day. And Tesla has used its data as a "gotcha," disputing claims from a reporter from The New York Times earlier this year after he said he ran out of electric juice in his Model S and had to get the car towed.

So, you can't lie about your driving habits to the folks who made the car, but you can read more details over on the BBC.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 16 Comments
      Levine Levine
      • 1 Year Ago
      More examples of Big Brother is watching, spying, and monitoring you.
      paulwesterberg
      • 1 Year Ago
      I want the Knight Rider kit sound as my low-speed pedestrian warning sound. How can I hack my leaf to make this happen?
        Anderlan
        • 1 Year Ago
        @paulwesterberg
        The git'er'done answer: plug in your own amp and speakers into the accessory power system, mount the speaker(s) in an appropriate location(s) and connect them to an android device. Write an app to play the sound based on GPS speed < 30 mph. There's always a way. :-)
        Nick Kordich
        • 1 Year Ago
        @paulwesterberg
        I don't know of a turnkey solution, but if you really want to get into the system and hack it, check out the "Vehicle Sounds for Pedestrians" (VSP) unit service manual: http://car-service-manuals.com/catalog/nissan/leaf/aproaching-vehicle-sound-for-pedestrians-vsp There's also a NHTSA document on its development with lots of information on the how and why behind the system: http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/pdf/esv/esv22/22ESV-000097.pdf
      JJ
      • 1 Year Ago
      The question is: Is it possible to opt-out of the data collection?
        Nick Kordich
        • 1 Year Ago
        @JJ
        It's likely that you won't be able to opt-out completely. Things like the odometer and health readings from the powertrain can tell them whether you're in compliance with warranty requirements, as well as give them valuable information on real-world longevity of parts and maintenance. They'll likely offer a privacy policy that assures users that things like location data are not sent to their servers unless requested, but it's too useful for them to pass this up completely and do no data collection.
        raktmn
        • 1 Year Ago
        @JJ
        It depends upon the data collection. For example, the data collection that Tesla had turned on in their press car that Broder drove for the bogus NYT story is not turned on at all by default in any customer cars. It would only be collected if there were a specific technical issue that was being looked at with permission from the customer. So there are different levels of data. For the level of data referred to by this story for Tesla, you would have to opt-in before that data would be collected.
          Levine Levine
          • 1 Year Ago
          @raktmn
          As I am not the most astute, I guess millions of ordinary Americans opt-in allowing the NSA to gather, search, and record their telecommunications.
        Actionable Mango
        • 1 Year Ago
        @JJ
        I imagine disconnecting the antenna would do it, assuming you could find the device.
      Nick Kordich
      • 1 Year Ago
      And no toll pass - it's been shown that these are read for other purposes (traffic estimates). And no tire-pressure monitoring - these work by radio transmitters, right? They're short-range, but if Big Brother is doing his job, he'll be able to identity your vehicle, its bearing and speed as you drive past. It wouldn't reveal itself with an external ping, the way toll pass querying was detected, and it's mandatory on new cars. If they could get away with it, I'm sure they'd put unique numbers on cars so that police could easily look up suspicious drivers and automatic cameras could send them fines for running red lights!
      Nick Kordich
      • 1 Year Ago
      Actor William Daniels would go to children's hospitals during the 80s where he'd be immediately recognized by the staff as a 'doctor' for his character on St. Elsewhere. On meeting the children, though, he'd drop into the not-at-all creepy KITT voice and character. I'm sure the dialog and technobabble from the show seemed inane, but kudos to him for doing it.
      Daryl Cobranchi
      • 1 Year Ago
      Big Brother is watching. So, no EV for me.
        Nick Kordich
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Daryl Cobranchi
        It's not about EVs. It's being increasingly built into ICEs. OnStar - GM Sync - Ford Uconnect - Chrysler Assist - BMW mbrace - Mercedes-Benz EnTune - Toyota* Blue&Me - Fiat* UVO - Kia* Blue Link - Hyundai* Right now, the majority of the systems (ones marked with a star) leverage a cell phone over USB or Bluetooth. Car entertainment systems are increasingly repackaged tablet and smartphone hardware and software, since the hardware is produced in bulk and they offer many of the same services. They offer voice input, music streaming, better navigation, roadside assistance and many other apps. It will be advertised as a safety feature, as integration of messaging with car audio and displays are supposed to be less distracting than texting while driving. The cost will be low enough to include the hardware that embedding the system and letting customers decide whether or not to activate premium features will make more sense than making it an option that has to be installed separately at the time of purchase. You might have a choice whether or not to upgrade to premium services, but the hardware is there and may still offer basic service, such as accident reporting, whether you want it or not.
        paulwesterberg
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Daryl Cobranchi
        So,.. no cell phone and no internet connection also?
          Daryl Cobranchi
          • 1 Year Ago
          @paulwesterberg
          GPS tracking is turned off on the phone. And Sprint has such crappy coverage that I could hide from Big Brother just about anywhere in the US. Y'all can sneer if you want to. I neither need nor want some nameless, faceless entity knowing where I am at all times. I can turn my cell phone off if I want to. Apparently, one cannot turn off these intrusive devices. I bought a new car (Prius 2) in August. I did not even consider any of the GM hybrids because of OnStar.
      goodoldgorr
      • 1 Year Ago
      The best would be a green car that connect always with autobloggreen and collect datas and post them in the blogging section.
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