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    BMW decides heated seat subscriptions are a bust / ArsTechnica · Friday, 8 September - 13:47

A BMW worker installs a seat in an i4 on the production line

Enlarge / A BMW worker installs a seat in an i4. The company will no longer install hardware in its cars and then ask for a fee to unlock it at a later date. (credit: BMW)

BMW's experiment with offering in-car subscriptions for hardware features installed at the factory is over. Earlier this week, a BMW board member told Autocar that while it will still pursue some subscription features in the future, those will only be software-based services.

The last decade or so has seen the auto industry get tech fever. Wide-eyed executives and shareholders looked at the profit margins and market value of software companies and their "recurring revenue streams" and decided they wanted a slice of that, particularly since a modern car is just so many computers on wheels now. But it turns out—surprise, surprise—that consumers don't really want any more monthly payments attached to their vehicles.

Indeed, in 2019 BMW earned a degree of consumer distrust after making Apple CarPlay a subscription-only feature for a while before backtracking.

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    Lotus is the latest to show off a high-powered electric sedan—the Emeya / ArsTechnica · Thursday, 7 September - 22:00 · 1 minute

A Lotus Emaya pokes out from behind a girder

Enlarge / Lotus has developed a new architecture for electric vehicles. The second EV to use this new architecture will be this, the Emeya four-door GT, which follows the Eletre SUV, released earlier this year. (credit: Jonathan Gitlin)

Lotus provided a train ticket from Washington, DC, to New York City and back so we could see the new Emeya. Ars does not accept paid editorial content.

NEW YORK—After languishing with a lack of serious investment for decades, Lotus Cars is now starting to show the results of its 2017 acquisition by Geely . After building a low-volume electric hypercar and then its last gasoline-powered sportscar , it debuted an all-new electric vehicle, an SUV called the Eletre . And next year another new EV goes into production, a new four-door GT called the Emeya that uses the same Electric Premium Architecture platform as that SUV.

Despite sharing a corporate parent and a very similar design brief, the Lotus Emeya is unrelated to the Polestar 5 four-door GT that we rode in a few weeks ago . Both cars clearly target the Porsche Taycan , offering high power outputs, very rapid charging, and an engaging driving experience. But there's nothing shared between the Polestar and the Lotus, which, unlike the Polestar 5, uses a more conventional chassis construction that's a mix of different strength steels and aluminum.

"This is a Lotus like you've never seen before," said Lotus Group Vice President of Design Ben Payne. "We've built on everything Lotus has achieved so far, creating a luxury performance car for the drivers, designed to inspire confidence, exhilarate with raw emotion and pure joy—connecting them to the road."

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    Honda is the latest automaker to switch EV charging plugs / ArsTechnica · Thursday, 7 September - 13:57 · 1 minute

A blue Acura EV on display at a golf course

Enlarge / When the Acura ZDX goes into production next year, the cars will feature CCS ports. But Honda and Acura EVs launched from 2025 onward will feature NACS ports instead. (credit: Honda)

On Thursday morning, Honda became the latest automaker to announce that it is switching away from the Combined Charging Standard port for fast-charging its electric vehicles. Since May of this year, beginning with Ford, multiple OEMs have signed on to the North American Charging Standard, which uses a plug of Tesla's design.

Perhaps more important than the plug itself is the fact that Honda has negotiated access for its customers to use Tesla's Supercharger network. These are far more numerous than CCS fast chargers in North America, and they're far more reliable—although much of that reliability is down to the tightly integrated Tesla ecosystem , and there are no guarantees that third-party vehicles will find the process as friction-free.

That's particularly true since some of those vehicles—including Honda EVs—will have to use a CCS-to-NACS adapter. Each automaker announcement has followed the same pattern, with NACS ports only appearing on cars from 2025 onward. EVs built before then will need adapters, which are supposed to be available sometime in 2024.

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    Ford’s electric Mustang Mach-E gets a $65,000 Rally-inspired version / ArsTechnica · Thursday, 7 September - 10:00 · 1 minute

A yellow ford mustang mach-e rally driving on a dirt road

Enlarge / Ford's latest Mach-E variant is designed for fun on or off the tarmac. (credit: Ford)

Ford has a long and successful history with rallying, having won numerous races with motorsport-modified versions of more mundane machines like the Escort, Sierra, and Fiesta. Now it's applying some of that know-how to the electric Mustang Mach-E with a new version that goes on sale early next year, the Mustang Mach-E Rally.

Until now, the Mustang Mach-E to purchase if you were looking for some fun has been the Mach-E GT, particularly if you opted for the $64,900 Performance Edition, which comes with magnetorheological dampers and better tires . Ford reckons the Mach-E Rally will cost about the same as that version, and it, too, rides on those magnetic fluid-filled dampers, together with new springs that give it a 20 mm higher ride height than the Mach-E GT.

There are big front brake discs and 19-inch wheels shod in Michelin CrossClimate2 tires that have bigger sidewalls (and therefore absorb more bumps) than the 20-inch wheels and tires fitted to the GT. Ford has also added some underbody shielding to protect the front and rear motors from rocks, and there's protective film to help prevent stone chips on the doors and wheel arches.

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    Toyota’s Japanese production was halted due to insufficient disk space / ArsTechnica · Wednesday, 6 September - 20:42

close-up of a car's Toyota emblem

Enlarge (credit: Getty )

Toyota's 14 Japanese factories all shut down for about two days last week due to a production order system malfunction caused by a lack of disk space, the company announced today.

According to Toyota, its Japanese factories and their 28 assembly lines were halted due to "some multiple servers that process part orders" becoming unavailable and causing Toyota's production order system to malfunction on August 28.

The problem began during maintenance work on August 27. Toyota's press release said:

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    Connected cars are a “privacy nightmare,” Mozilla Foundation says / ArsTechnica · Wednesday, 6 September - 15:41

the interior of a car with a lot of networking icons overlayed on the image

Enlarge / Your car's maker can collect data on you from many different sources. (credit: Getty Images)

Today, the Mozilla Foundation published its analysis of how well automakers handle the privacy of data collected by their connected cars, and the results will be unlikely to surprise any regular reader of Ars Technica. The researchers were horrified by their findings , stating that "cars are the worst product category we have ever reviewed for privacy."

Mozilla looked at 25 car brands and found that all of them collected too much personal data, and from multiple sources—monitoring not just which buttons you push or what you do in any of the infotainment system's apps but also data from other sources like satellite radio or third-party maps. Or even when you connect your phone—remember that prompt asking you if you wanted to share all your contacts and notes with your car when you connected it via Bluetooth?

While some gathered data seems innocuous or even helpful—feedback to improve cabin ergonomics and UIs, for example—some data is decidedly not.

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    Polestar 2 gets new motor and battery for MY24 refresh, and it’s a winner / ArsTechnica · Wednesday, 6 September - 12:00 · 1 minute

A white polestar 2 parked next to a colorful sculpture of a triceratops

Enlarge / When you see a brightly colored triceratops by the side of the road you should probably check it out. (credit: Jonathan Gitlin)

Polestar provided flights from Washington, DC, to Denver and back and two nights in a hotel so we could drive the model-year 2024 Polestar range. Ars does not accept paid editorial content.

DENVER—A car's midlife refresh is, more often than not, a mostly cosmetic affair—new light clusters or a changed front fascia, perhaps a new interior. Truth be told, the styling tweaks to the model year 2024 Polestar 2 are subtle—you might notice new wheel designs, and the ersatz front grille has been replaced with a body-colored panel. Instead, Polestar concentrated on tweaking the bits you can't see, making the car more efficient and, in the case of the cheaper, single-motor version, a lot more fun to drive, too.

When Polestar first launched the Polestar 2 in 2020, it did so with a dual-motor all-wheel drive version , followed by a more affordable single-motor model . Although the more expensive, more powerful version was faster, as is often the case with electric vehicles, I found the supposedly lesser car the one to go for. It's this version that has had the most attention paid to it in the refresh, most notably the fact that its single motor now powers the rear wheels, not the front.

Polestar has developed a new electric motor that's significantly more powerful than the one it replaces, outputting 299 hp (220 kW) and 361 lb-ft (490 Nm). That's a 29 percent boost in power and 48 percent more torque than the previous single-motor model.

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    Passenger seat belt warnings should be mandatory, say feds / ArsTechnica · Tuesday, 22 August - 16:46 · 1 minute

A woman sitting in the back seat of a car fastens her seatbelt

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images)

Not all vehicle occupants are protected equally when it comes to car crashes. Until 2017, cars weren't even routinely crash-tested on the passenger side , just the driver's. There's still other low-hanging fruit, too; thousands of rear-seat passengers die in cars each year in the United States because they're not wearing seat belts, despite decades of evidence on the effectiveness of buckling up. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has now had enough and has proposed a new rule that would mean new cars, trucks, and even some buses would need to have seat belt warning alerts for all occupants, not just the driver.

Seat belts have been mandatory equipment for all seats in cars and trucks (but not buses) since 1968, thanks to the US Department of Transport. But the US has lagged behind much of the world when it comes to requiring their use; this is determined at the state level, and it wasn't until 1984 that New York became the first US state to require seat belt use.

Since then , 48 other states, along with the District of Columbia, now require front seat occupants to wear belts—New Hampshire remains unconvinced—but a total of 10 states don't require rear passengers to wear seat belts by law.

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