Following an investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, NHTSA, Tesla has succumbed to pressure to disable all games while the vehicle is not parked. Previously, the popular EV maker had released an update that made some games playable even when the car is cruising on the highway.
Before the update, all Tesla cars must be parked before any game could be played.
While Tesla made the player acknowledge they were not driving by clicking a button, it could be a source of distraction for the driver as the screen remains in full view. The driver could also falsely claim to be a passenger to gain access to the games. Some Tesla drivers have been known to be reckless behind the wheel, performing dangerous stunts to be filmed and uploaded to YouTube. It is easy to imagine this feature would be abused, constituting a risk to road users.
However, experts have slammed Tesla for enabling what it calls Passenger Play, pointing out that there is no argument that the company can make that the feature is not dangerous.
According to an email from the NHTSA, Tesla has informed the agency it would remove the feature, which affects about half a million cars. The agency stressed safety in its statement, “The Vehicle Safety Act prohibits manufacturers from selling vehicles with defects posing unreasonable risks to safety, including technologies that distract drivers from driving safely.”
A new software update from Tesla will lock the games again.
The NHTSA has other active investigations into Tesla, including its controversial autopilot feature after crashes into stationary emergency vehicles, were reported. Another probe is looking into how Tesla has been rolling out its Full Self Driving (FSD) Beta program.
Playing games in the car has been marketed by Tesla, who views the cars as mobile computers. It is a fun way to pass the time in the car while charging in public or keep the kids occupied during a wait.
In other EV news, Volkswagen, the German legacy automaker that wants to overtake Tesla, has teased its upcoming ID Buzz microbus in a new clip on Twitter. The video is short but shows the minivan being unlocked. It also includes footage of headlights with daytime running lights across its front. The headlights themselves are adaptive and have lined LED patterns.
The clip also shows the door handles with illumination. However, it could be frustrating for vans that Volkswagen is still showing off a prototype disguised in stripes that could induce psychedelic nightmares. Also, for some reason, Volkswagen is still not showing the rear-end of the minibus and the interior.
But it is nice to confirm Volkswagen is still staying true to the trendy concept it introduced some years back, which generated lots of positive attention with its retro-styled appearance.
Volkswagen, however, made sure to remind us that the ID Buzz has the DNA of icons and is coming next year, even declaring 2022 as the year of the ID Buzz.
Even with the sparse details, videos like this one prove the ID Buzz is getting nearer, and production could start in January or, at the latest, in the first quarter.
Other information like pricing, driving range, charging times, powertrain configurations are still not available.
Volkswagen is betting big on battery-powered mobility, with plans to spend billions of dollars setting up battery production plants, converting its ICE-making facilities to support EV production, and building new plants. In its attempt to repair its image after the diesel-gate scandal, the German company has released some zero-emission models across its many brands. It also maintains a public charging network.