Craig discusses Ballot Question 1 coming up in Massachusetts in the next two weeks and a take you may not have been expecting. Tune in.
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Automated Machine-Generated Transcript:
So with our fancy electronic cars driving around and our electric cars driving around, how do you repair them? Should you have the right to repair those vehicles? That’s the question they’re asking in Massachusetts next month.
Hi guys. You are listening to Craig Peterson.
These cars, the Tesla has been on the market now for quite a few years, back in 2013, Massachusetts voted here on this right to repair legislation.
The idea was that these car manufacturers should not keep you out of your vehicle while working on it. Having just a regular car guy, car shop, whoever it is, you got a gal that does it? You could not have them mess with your car and still retain the warranty, in many cases. So they changed that law.
Now we have these cars that thankfully are 90% software. What do we do now? The reason I said 90% software is, of course, you’ve got the chassis, right? You’ve got the suspension. You’ve got a steering wheel. You have a gas pedal. You have a brake pedal. You have a motor or motors depending on the vehicle that’s all mechanical.
That’s all parts and pieces. Some of them move. Some of them don’t move. Don’t forget about the brakes, but every last one of those things is controlled by computer, even in a standard car, nowadays. I’ve ranted and raved about how I’ll never drive a Volvo because they make assumptions about when the car should take over. It’s kind of true for every vehicle. That steering wheel probably does not have a mechanical linkage to those front wheels on your car. Did you know that? Turning that steering wheel, all that’s really doing is setting off a sensor in the steering column. That brake pedal almost certainly is not connected to the brakes on your car. Right?
It used to be, you push it down. There’s a diaphragm created pressure. They use that to amplify through hydraulic pressure to the brakes, and then the brakes would grab whatever type of brakes you had. Right? Sometimes it was strictly mechanical as well, without that hydraulic assist in there. Same thing with the steering wheel, that gas pedal is guaranteed to not be hooked up directly to the engine. Used to be you’d push down the gas pedal and what would it do? It would change some valves in the carburetor or a little bit later on in the fuel injector and feed the fuel into the car nowadays. All it is is a rheostat or potentiometer.
Just a little dial like you might have on your television that is being manipulated. Buy that gas pedal, go, and have a look. Next time. You’re there down there, cleaning out the car, getting rid of all of that salt from the wintertime, looking down at that car. And when you’re down on the floor, the driver’s side. Look at where the gas pedal is, but you can see this more, obviously in most cars on the gas pedal and the brake pedal look up, you’ll see the linkage just goes to a little dial. Well, most of the time now, That’s all well and good, but what it means is our cars no longer have that mechanical linkage.
If you go to my Mercedes, my 1980 Mercedes diesel, you will see mechanical linkages to everything. When I push on that accelerator, there is a steel rod that goes up under the hood of the vehicle that tilts forward control on the fuel injectors that inject the diesel into the cylinders. It is absolutely something that you can look at.
If it’s jammed, you can look and see why you can replace a bearing. You maybe add a little grease here or there, you can straighten out a bent rod. But when it’s software, what can you do? How much can you tinker with it? And if you tinker with it, what’s going to happen?
Now with motor vehicles, it’s become pretty obvious over the years, whoever touched it, whoever broke it, whoever caused an accident to occur, is the person or company, liable for the accident. So for repairs, damages, whatever might be involved.
How about an electric car? That’s self-driving who carries the insurance, who has the liability. I think you know. I personally would carry insurance just in general, right? Some broad-based insurance, but is Tesla responsible for this? When that Tesla car hits someone who’s responsible?
We know what just happened in Phoenix within the last month where charges were brought against a driver that was sitting there in one of these autonomous vehicles. It was driving down the road and hit a lady on a bicycle. As I recall, as she was crossing the road. Now the car didn’t properly detect what was happening, so it did not stop in time.
The driver apparently wasn’t paying attention, right? Drivers in quotes, air quotes, because obviously, they weren’t paying attention. So that driver got charged and it’s not going to be fun for that driver.
When that vehicle truly is represented to be autonomous, what happens when there is no more steering wheel in the vehicle, or whose responsible? You probably can say the manufacturer’s responsible for it.
If you have the right to repair your vehicle, what does that mean? How far does that go? If you tinker with your vehicle and the software in it? You might burn out the electric motor, just like changing the chip and your engine might damage the engine, my damage to the valves, or whatever might get damaged. At that point you take it in, they look at it, the dealer manufacturer says, hey, you broke it. It’s yours. We’re not fixing it or at least we’re not going to pay to fix it. You can pay.
So what happens now with an electric vehicle? And what happens when you trace that liability down and say, okay, who’s responsible here. What happens if that person who’s responsible is you because you had the right to repair and you went a little further than might be prudent.
This is an example of the law outpacing technology. Usually, the law is behind the technology. It’s usually years behind technology. And that makes sense.
That gives the technology a bit of a chance to get established and then once its established then the technology can be rolled out and we know what the laws should be because you never know what’s going to happen until it happens.
Now, personally, I think we have far too many laws and some basic rules or laws about liability are probably all we need.
We don’t need laws about every little bit of liability, but there are a lot of questions that would need to be answered. That’s where the judiciary can come in, not to make laws certainly, but to interpret the law, and say that law means you cannot kill someone negligently and therefore it’s your problem and can get that all resolved. So that has years to come.
So you can see I think, how this all relates to this 2020 Massachusetts question one ballot initiative. This is the sort of thing we’re starting to see all over the country here. How can traditional independent automotive repair shops, aftermarket parts, suppliers, home, tinkerers, and mechanics? How are they going to function as part of the automotive ecosystem? This ballot initiative aims to enact a law that makes vehicle-specific data for opening connectivity available to anyone. For the purposes in this case of quotes, maintaining, diagnosing, and repairing the motor vehicle. So interesting problems in trust and repurposing it. Personally, I think it’s a safety threat.
I think it’s a little too ahead of the game.
Hey, when we get back, we’ve got a lot more to talk about.
We are going to talk about Ring a little bit here and there. Latest security cameras. I don’t know if you’ve been following this market much lately, but this is pretty cool.
You’ll find out more about this by going online.
Craig Peterson dot com
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