Published on November 16th, 2013 | by Important Media Cross-Post


Renault Can Cut Off Your Car If You Don’t Pay

November 16th, 2013 by  

Originally published on Gas2.
By Chris DeMorro


Last year Tesla dealt with its first real scandal, the so-called “bricking” of batteries that are allowed to run entirely out of charge. But what about a car company that could brick a car’s battery on purpose? As it turns out, French automaker Renault is using its battery leasing scheme to prevent non-paying customers from charging their electric cars. Big Brother is watching…your battery.

It’s another form of DRM, or Digital Rights Management, that video game and movie companies use to try (and fail) to prevent piracy. Renault, which leases the batteries in vehicle like its Zoe Z.E. electric car in a bid to keep prices down (and probably make a few extra bucks in the long game), also draws a huge amount of information from the battery data.

This includes keeping tabs on non-paying customers, and Renault worked a nifty feature into their rented batteries that they didn’t exactly brag about in the press releases. In the service contract, however, in the fine print, it is revealed that Renault has the right to prevent charging of the Zoe Z.E. at the end of the battery rental contract. It was also revealed that Renault can do this in the case of non-payment on the car or battery as well, effectively making “your” vehicle worthless.

In theory this is a huge advancement for car dealers, financial companies, and local police departments. The fear I have is when Renault inevitably screws up processing someone’s payment, bricking a paying customer’s car and essentially preventing them from getting to work, starting a vicious cycle that could really screw somebody over.

Yet this very same feature could help speed up the process of EV adoption if other automakers get on board. Not only could you track down non-paying cars, but you can also make the vehicle immobile, making retrieval a cakewalk. Even Orwell didn’t imagine this.

Source: Der Spiegel

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  • Wayne Williamson

    Just like the rest of the DRM’s, its just an opportunity waiting to happen. Hundreds if not thousands of small companies will pop up to remove the “limiter”.

  • hourglass1

    too many regulations they complain … yet seems all the regulations these days (tpp) are in favour of the corporations and to the detriment of consumers … they want to own everything and us to be renters subject to losing the right to even possess anything.

    • Bob_Wallace

      People complain about regulations. Corporations complain about regulations.

      If everyone always did the right thing we’d need no regulations.

      You know anyone who always does the right thing?

      How many people do you know that are willing to cheat a little, take a little more than their share, try to get away with something?

      • hourglass1

        bit of a strawman argument Bob … the wronged individual already faces an onerous task when confronting monied interests. regulations against the consumer and even the sovereign gov’ts of those consumers such as those revealed by the few remaining investigative sources the oligarchy and their political lackeys call treasonous, place all consumers in a subservient status – the new age of bondservant-hood.

        • Bob_Wallace

          Perhaps you could point out the strawman to me?

          • hourglass1

            ok, one example …

            “If everyone always did the right thing we’d need no regulations.”

            shall i continue?

          • Bob_Wallace

            Let me give you Wiki’s definition of straw man…

            “A straw man or straw person, also known in the UK as an Aunt Sally,[1][2] is a common type of argument and is an informal fallacy based on misrepresentation of an opponent’s position.”

            Now, could you please point out how “If everyone always did the right thing we’d need no regulations” is an Aunt Sally.

          • hourglass1

            you misrepresented someone’s argument to make it easier to attack.

            the first two sentences of your post to mine are aunt sally administering fairness on school kids.

          • Bob_Wallace

            I didn’t misrepresent jack.

            You were talking about corporations favoring corporations.

            I pointed out that both people and corporation complain about regulations. I disagreed with you. That is not a misrepresentation.

          • hourglass1

            no, not only that. laws enacted by governments written by corporations for corporations that limit local gov’t. like tpp, and that is not the same as your ‘everybody does it’ without regs ‘no one would behave’ argument.
            by misrepresenting what i said you presented your own position as being reasonable – and attempted to school me in the process. quite the authoritarianish strawman argument here, bob or jack, if you prefer.
            with this i leave clean technica because political discussion isn’t what this site is about …

          • Bob_Wallace


            (What a strange fellow.)

          • A Real Libertarian

            Maybe because it’s not an argument against claiming that corporations scream about regulations while demanding more regulations that harm their competitors?

  • eject

    I don’t like this battery renting, leasing sort of thing. Maybe I am old fashioned (although not that old in years) but I like to own things.
    I don’t like that they charge me extra for using a fast charger. If it would be my battery it would be my gamble on the life expectancy.
    Also this basically means that it is up to Renault to decide when the life of my car ends. What if after 15 years they simply say there is no more new battery for your car but we have this new model on offer. They wouldn’t even need to stop supporting it, they would just need to make the price absurdly high.
    The insurance value of the Zoe battery is 6000€ or so. The actual value might be slightly higher, who knows.
    But why can’t I just buy the damn thing instead of paying them each month? At least as an option that should be available.

    Same problem with all the electric Renaults. I really want a Twizy. They can now be bought used for 4000-5000€ including the optional doors. I would be willing to pay up to 8000 for them if the (used) battery would be mine. I am not going to spent 100€ each month on a toy. That would make me reconsider owning it every month when I see the money leaving my account. I want to forget about the pain of the money I spent and start enjoying what I got for it. Who wants to be reminded of the price once a month? That is stupid.

    • SirSparks

      It would be an exceedingly simple fix (for an electrician like me) to build (convert an existing) one’s own portable charger to prevent this Renault scam.

      • eject

        Well they are trying to put different batteries into the Twizy for quite a while. It means replacing basically everything Renault uses to manage the batteries and adjust the power. You couldn’t even use the old speedometer because it is all inter-linked.
        This is all quiet sad. You could keep it all so simple but they choose not to.

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