Category Archives: Audi

Audi Shows commitment to electric future

In recent years, the electric car industry has boomed. From small family cars to larger SUVs, many car manufacturers have pledged to develop their electric car ranges in a bid to save the environment.

Why are EVs good?

According to research, electric cars are better for the environment as they emit fewer greenhouse gasses based on both production and electricity to keep them going. In fact, just one electric car can save an average of 1.5 million grams of CO2.

Electric cars are so beneficial to the planet that the UK government has laid out a scheme to get more drivers to switch to electric. And they aren’t the only ones showing big commitments to the planet.

Which manufacturers make EVS?

One manufacturer leading the way in terms of moving towards a fully electric fleet is Audi.

Audi are showing big commitments to having an all-electric fleet in the future. Continuing to expand and innovate when it comes to their fleet, Audi are well on their way towards electrification and plan to phase out internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle production by 2033.

As part of this, towards the end of 2019 Audi announced $12 billion of investment to accelerate the electrification of its vehicles and have recently announced a “Vorsprung 2030” electrification strategy.

In fact, this becomes abundantly clear in as the brand new A3 Sportback is, for the first time ever, available in petrol, diesel, mild-hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions. This shows that even the traditional Audi models are undergoing significant change during this ‘transition period’ into more sustainable forms of transportation.

More about Audi

Audi are a German car manufacturer and subsidiary of Volkswagen Group. Known as paving the way when it comes to technology, Audi are pioneers of their time.

Over the past 50 years, Audi’s slogan has been “Vorsprung durch Technik,” which translates to “Progress through Technology.” And with the commitment to an all-electric fleet underway, it’s clear that Audi are true to their word.

Currently, the most popular Audi EVs are the Audi e-tron, e-tron S and e-tron sportback, but following their recent release of the Audi A3 models, it’s predicted that Audi will soon be offering all its models as both fully electric and hybrid models.

What this means for the car industry

Despite a difficult year for the automotive industry, it’s encouraging to see major leaders in the field looking to the future and innovating.

With EVs predicted to become ever more popular, it’s an important step forward for both car manufacturers and the planet. Backed up by government initiatives and generous grants to help companies and individuals afford to make the switch, big things are in store for the EV industry.

Gadget Man – Episode 124 – Keyless Car Theft Explained and How to Stop it

How many of us own and drive a vehicle with a keyless entry system? Well, it appears that many thousands of us that do have woken up this morning to a very worrying report from the General German Automobile Club (ADAC),

In order to unlock your keyless entry vehicle, you simply need to carry your key-fob. As you approach the vehicle, it recognises the encrypted signal transmitted from the fob. This, in turn, instructs the vehicles central-locking system to unlock the doors when you either touch the door handle or press the button on the door-handle. There is no requirement to insert the key into the ignition as the car is fitted with a start/stop button. If you own a car with both keyless entry and start/stop system, you aren’t alone, they are now widely used in hundreds of models or cars and in some cases motorbikes.

Now for the bad news. A recent study by the General German Automobile Club (ADAC) has discovered that the technology is far from secure in all but THREE cases and in fact the method of stealing a keyless vehicle is extremely simple.

In order to steal a keyless vehicle, a thief simply employs a rudimentary transceiver which takes the relatively weak signal transmitted and received from the fob to the car and amplifies it, it is then possible for the signal to reach from the fob to the car and hey presto, the car is unlocked and can (in most cases) be started.

Once the car is running, the need for a key is obsoleted and the car can now be driven until it is depleted of fuel. In most cases, the cars are taken abroad and the retrofitted with standard locking and start systems. As long as the car does not stall, it will run for as long as the fuel tank will take it.

NO AMOUNT of hacking or decryption is needed, it is reliant solely on the amplification of the already transmitted signal!

Arnulf Thiemel, car-technician at the ADAC.
Arnulf Thiemel, car-technician at the ADAC. Image Credit: ADAC

Arnulf Thiemel, car-technician at the ADAC, said “The ADAC demands that vehicles be protected against any kind of manipulation and illegal access. For the affected vehicles, there must be solutions put in place to improve the security.  All new  vehicles should also be equipped with a methodologically that ensures secure safety solutions which also withstands neutral side checks”

Which cars and manufacturers were affected?

Unfortunately, it would appear that EVERY manufacturer tested has at least one model which could be stolen using the method above.

Alfa Romeo, Audi, BMW, Chevrolet, Citroen, DS Automobiles, Fiat, Ford, Honda, Hyundai, Infiniti, Jaguar, Jeep, KIA, Land Rover, Lexus, Mazda, Mercedes, MINI, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Opel, Peugeot, Renault, Seat, Skoda, SsangYong, Suzuki, Subaru, Tesla, Toyota, Volvo, Volkswagen and motorcycles from BMW, Ducati and KTM. 

The following vehicles could NOT be opened using this method but if already open it was STILL POSSIBLE to start and drive the cars.

BMW i3 (2014)
Infiniti Q30 (2016)
Mazda 2 Skyactive 90 Kizohu (2018)
Volvo XC60 T5 (2017)

The following vehicles could NOT be opened or started using this method.

Jaguar i-Pace (2018)
Land Rover Discovery (2018)
Land Rover Range Rover (2018)

The vehicles above are currently immune from this method of attack. This is because they employ a variation of the keyless system by broadcasting using ultra-wideband frequencies. Basically, the equipment used to amplify the signal is ‘currently’ unable transmit or receive at the radio frequencies used in these models of cars.

Jaguar-Land Rover filed the patent for this method of keyless access in 2017. We can now only hope that they freely license these patents to other car makers or a comparable technology can be developed.

What Now?

All too often our deep-rooted human needs to be ‘waited upon’ result in solutions which in the first instance appear to solve a problem that really didn’t exist, but in real-world use turn out to have a sting in the tail. In the case of the study by ADAC, it would appear that there are very urgent questions to answer and drivers should be aware of the security issues surrounding their vehicles.

Faraday Cases?

Prior to speaking to BBC Radio Suffolk, many listeners talked about using Faraday Cases or Bags to house their keys. The theory behind this was to block the signal completely whilst the car isn’t in use (ie. whilst the keys were stored in the home or place of work).

Faraday Bag for Keyless Fobs from Amazon

I personally believe that keeping the keys away from the car or placing them in a container which COMPLETELY blocks radio signals is the only way to avoid the potential theft of vehicles using this method. However, radio signals can travel through types of metal, so be ABSOLUTELY confident that anything you purchase to secure your fobs, does indeed work as described.

Immediate Steps to Take

If you are concerned about the security of your keyless car fob, contact your car’s manufacturer as soon as possible and ask them what steps they have taken to secure your car? Ask them if there are software updates to improve security? Ask them if these systems can be deactivated until such time as they can be completely secure?

Listen in!

This morning I spoke to Mark Murphy on BBC Radio Suffolk about the use of Faraday Cage technology to try and reduce the chances of Keyless entry cars being stolen. Listen in to the stream above. If you like what you hear or read, don’t forget to LIKE, SHARE and SUBSCRIBE. See you next time!

Matt
The Gadget Man

I previously spoke about this topic a while back, you can read and listen at this link Gadget Man – Episode 113

Gadget Man – Episode 110 – Electric Vehicle Charge Points in the home

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has announced proposals to change building regulations to encourage the mandatory installation of electric vehicle charge points in new homes and offices. New street lighting columns which service on-street parking will also have charging points in appropriate locations.

Along with these changes, the government has also promised more money to fund the charging infrastructure.

Rt Hon Chris Grayling MP as Secretary of State for Transport
Rt Hon Chris Grayling MP as Secretary of State for Transport. Image Credit: HM Government.

Mr Grayling said the proposed measures would mean the UK having “one of the most comprehensive support packages for zero-emission vehicles in the world”.

“The prize is not just a cleaner and healthier environment but a UK economy fit for the future and the chance to win a substantial slice of a market estimated to be worth up to £7.6 trillion by 2050”.

Tesla Destination Charger, Adelphi Distillery
Tesla Destination Charger, Adelphi Distillery – Image Credit: Matt Porter

I’ve tested 14 different electric and hybrid cars and I’m obviously sold on the idea of alternative fuel cars. Having travelled from Ness Point to Ardnamurchan in Scotland in a Tesla Model S 100 D and found the charge network was already in place, but improvements and investment from the Government would be very useful. With mass production of electric cars and more importantly lithium-ion batteries, the costs should come down in line with petrol and diesel powered cars. We should also look forward to electric powered lorries in the near future too. Exciting times indeed!

This morning, I spoke to Mark Murphy at BBC Radio Suffolk about the proposals. To listen to what I had to say, click on the stream above.

What do you think about electric cars, do you think they will be mainstream in your lifetime? Let me know in the comments below.

 

The Gadget Man – Episode 59 – Audi A3 etron sports hybrid

This week we stay with hybrid cars, but this time we look at the Audi A3 etron. First things first, this car looks spectacular! I have never seen such a bright red in my entire life and the big alloy wheels enhance the look even more. It’s certainly a head turner.

The A3 etron comes with a 1.4 litre turbo charged engine outputting 150 bhp, however yet again it sits alongside an electric motor which when combined in ‘Sports Mode’ increases the performance to just of 200 bhp and will get you to 60 is 7.6 seconds. When you are feeling less ‘eager’ to get around town, you can elect for pure electric which is the default mode at start up or 3 forms of hybrid mode, normal, battery save and battery charge.

The battery can be charged from a very cleverly hidden port on the front grill and on electric alone will take you around 30 miles per charge. You aren’t going to want to be taking long journeys on electric alone as the car is designed for hybrid use, it’s probably better to let it decide which forms of power it uses as it will drop to electric in slow traffic and moderate speed.

If you are feeling excitable, then pulling the gear stick backwards enables Sports Mode, the gear information changes from D1,D2,D3 etc on the dashboard to S1,S2,S3 to indicate sports use. Be very careful in this mode at it transforms the car to very high performance. The car is however very good at governing acceleration I I didn’t notice any wheel spin in sport mode, although we did notice some in pure electric (this is possibly down to the higher torque of the electric motor).

A full review of the A3 etron will be coming soon, in the meantime grab a listen to the attached audio from Mondays show.