FBI Alerts America to the Dangers of Car Hacking

Earlier this week, the FBI issued a public service announcement warning drivers of the dangers of car hacking. The announcement tells drivers how to prevent cybersecurity attacks, and what to do if the vehicle is hacked.

According to the statement, vehicles have become “increasingly vulnerable to remote exploits” thanks to connectivity features. What connectivity features? Keyless entry and ignition, tire pressure monitoring, infotainment, navigation and diagnostic systems. All of these allow the bad guys to easily access cars. The FBI cautions drivers about the dangers of connecting a third-party device to ports in their vehicles.

The FBI also tells you to be on the lookout when installing updates recommended by the manufacturer. Criminals may send illegitimate emails to owners and trick them into downloading malicious software. This happens with computers and phones, so it should come as no surprise that automotive computers are just as vulnerable. How does one prevent this? Be very careful downloading software from third-party websites or file-sharing programs. Always check the manufacturer’s website to ensure that a software update is truly needed. It’s always a good idea to use a trusted USB or SD card when downloading and/or installing software on a vehicle. Basically, the same precautions you would take with your computer.

What happens if you believe your vehicle has been hacked? First of all, don’t take it lightly. If you think your car has been hacked, check for outstanding vehicle recalls. You should also contact the vehicle’s manufacturer or an authorized dealer. You should also contact NHTSA and the local FBI field office.

Several security scares have come to light in the past few months. A pair of hackers has already demonstrated how they were able to remotely control a Jeep Cherokee via it’s Uconnect infotainment system. Different hackers also were able to hack into a Tesla Model S. Both Jeep and Tesla have taken steps to fix these vulnerabilities. Another security scare was with the Nissan Leaf. The mobile app for the Leaf was shut down by Nissan after a massive security breach.

I guess the solution is to build an old-school hot rod without any electronics on it!

The World’s Fastest Electric Car!

Don Garlits is a drag racing legend.  It’s why he’s known as “Big Daddy.”  Garlits has set records, not only for the amount of wins, but also for eclipsed times, trap speeds, etc.  He’s been active in the drag racing world for the better part of 60 years.  Many credit him for actively starting to make Top Fuel drag racing safer.  He’s learned the hard way on how unsafe old nitromethane dragsters are.  His favorite engine is the 426 Hemi that propelled him to many a victory.  Now, at age 81, he’s trying to set yet another record.

The eerie silence of electric vehicles is a bit creepy to some.  Nowhere is it more apparent than a 1/4 mile dragstrip.  Top Fuel dragsters make 8,000 horsepower, shake your body to the core, and easily hit 150 decibels.

Big Daddy’s Swamp Rat 37 isn’t what he usually drag races.  This is evidenced by the fact that he went 323 mph six years ago.  He regularly drag races a 2009 Dodge Challenger Drag Pak (Dodge’s equivalent of the Ford Mustang Cobra Jet and Chevy COPO Camaro, except it’s got a 600 horsepower Viper V10 under the hood).  Anyhow, Swamp Rat 37 isn’t nearly as quick as other cars he’s sailed down the 1320 feet of a quarter mile in.  But, his new record proves that electric dragsters aren’t slow, either.  According to Wired, Garlits and Swamp Rat 37 just went 7.258 seconds at 184.01 mph at Brandenton Motorsports Park in Florida.  That’s a little bit short of the 200 mph Garlits is aiming for, but he still went 24.16 mph faster than the previous record.

Very few electric cars make supercars look slow, though the Tesla Model S does come close – very close.  However, Big Daddy’s dragster makes every supercar look slow.  Swamp Rat 37 has six 7.5-inch DC electric motors.  Total output from those motors is 1,500 kilowatts, equivalent to about 2,000 horsepower.  Power for those motors is provided by four lithium-ion battery packs that store 420 volts and 3,600 amps.  It’s a little bit more powerful than sticking your finger into an electrical outlet.  Since he’s living his life 1320 feet at a time, there’s no such thing as range anxiety.

Big Daddy built up to full power over the course of several runs, turning in a 10.9, an 8.75, and on his fifth run, he hit 178.42 mph.  His sixth run was the record-shattering run.  For me, the most striking noise is not the whir of the electric motors, but the tires.  The noise of the tires is always drowned out by the thundering engines used in Top Fuel dragsters.  For some,  this may devalue electric dragsters forever, but Big Daddy has shown the world that there’s potential in everything.

Enjoy the video of Garlits setting the record.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ea4igN8Thtg

Making A Grand Entrance, or Getting to Thanksgiving in Style

As you know, Thanksgiving kicks off the holiday season with a full belly.  At least 80% of all Americans travel for the holiday.  I know that those who are traveling by road will be traveling the crowded interstates.  For those taking the back roads, I’ve put together a list of ten cars that have at least 400 horsepower and seat four people comfortably.  Tell me which one you’d like to take.

  1. Audi S8:  The 2013 Audi S8 has 520 horsepower, yet it isn’t a car that is 6000 pounds and fast in a straight line like a Rolls.  Instead, it weighs 4400 pounds.  With Audi’s signature Quattro AWD system, the S8 will go where a Rolls would never think of going.  Do you know of any full-size sedans other than the S8 than can get to 60 in 3.5 seconds?  Plus, the interior will enclose you in Alacantara and leather sourced from the finest tanneries in the world.  Not a bad way to travel…
  2. Bentley Mulsanne:  Would you like to make an even grander entrance than the S8?   If you do, take the 2013 Bentley Mulsanne.  A 505 horsepower 6.75 liter, twin turbo V8 powers the massive Bentley to a heart-stopping 4.8 seconds to 60.  It might not be as fast as the S8, but it will look better at speed.  All four of you and your lucky friends will be enshrouded in pillowy, massaging seats that have leather.
  3. Cadillac CTS-V Wagon:   The Caddy is one of the more powerful cars here, yet one of the first choices for a back-road blast.  The CTS-V Wagon is fast, with a top speed of 190 mph (governed!), and it will carry turkeys, luggage, and plenty of eggnog and brew for Thanksgiving without breaking a sweat.  Plus, it will look like you are having a blast.  Which you WILL be, right?
  4. Dodge Charger SRT-8:   The Charger has long held a soft spot in my big car heart.  It’s fast, it makes a statement, and it’s loud.  What’s not to love?  Plus, the SRT-8 can be purchased for under $50,000!  60 mph comes up in a show-stopping 4.3 seconds.  This makes it the large family-oriented performance car of the century!
  5. Hyundai Genesis 5.0 R-Spec:  The Hyundai is the first Korean performance sedan.  It competes with the Mercedes-Benz E550, yet offers almost as much room as a MBZ S-Class.  It may be smaller than the gigantic Equus, but it’s MUCH more fun to drive.  Plus, it will get people asking what it is.  Some will think it’s a Lexus, others will think is a Mercedes.  Tell them it’s a Hyundai, and take some photos for me!
  6. Jaguar XJL Supercharged:  The 470 horsepower, 5.0 liter engine is powerful enough to move this big boy.  Fast.  The interior is even nicer than the engine.  There is a suede-like material that Jag used for the headliner that is very soft and nice.  The engine is so powerful that you can load up the trunk and have your friends in the back stretched out.  What’s not to love?
  7. Land Rover Range Rover Supercharged:  The Range Rover Supercharged has a 510 horsepower engine that is basically the same one you’ll find in the XJL Supercharged.  This powerful engine will take the nearly 5000-pound SUV to 60 in a mere 5.2 seconds.  Plus, it will haul all your gear wherever you want it.  You can quite literally load up the shotguns and go hunting wild turkeys in the Rockies.  Plus, it’s got  a very similar interior to the XJL Supercharged.  Not bad for an SUV that costs almost $120,000.
  8. Mercedes-Benz GL550:  The GL wowed the 2013 Motor Trend SUV of the Year judges so much that they named it SUV of the year.  It’s the first MBZ to win that title since 2001.  The GL550 doles out globs of torque and 429 horsepower.  It’s powerful, fast, quiet, AND it will follow the Range Rover Supercharged.  For a while.  The Designo interior rivals that of the luxurious S-Class, with comfortable leather seats that seat seven.  Plus, you can take all your gear in the back and still have room.  It’s bigger than an Escalade, yet smaller than a Navigator EL.
  9. Porsche Panamera GTS:  The powerful Panamera GTS will haul four people in relative comfort, thanks to it’s leather-covered Recaro seats.  It has AWD and 430 horsepower.  It’s like the Nissan GT-R Black Edition, with two more doors!  And a rumbling V8!  Plus, it will get 24.5 mpg on the highway!  VROOOOOOOOM!
  10. Tesla Model S Signature Performance Edition:  The 2013 Motor Trend Car of the Year deserves to be on this list.  Why?  It’s extremely powerful electric motor produces 416 horsepower at the wheels.  This means that it’s there as soon as you start it.  It might not have the range of the Mulsanne or the Panamera, but it will make the most amazing entrance ever.  It carries almost as much as a Chevy Equinox, plus it has 285 miles of range!  Plus, you can get to 60 in jolting 4.0 seconds!  This is one silent VROOOOOOOOOOOM!

Have fun daydreaming about what could be, when you’re stuck on the interstate wishing you’d taken the backroads. These cars may not be ‘The Family’s New Car’, but they definitely have serious style!   P.S.  Do you have any cars that have at least 400 horsepower and seat four comfortably?  I’m sure you do…