The first time Renault’s Zoe EV got onto my radar, it was because someone named Zoe Renault objected to the name.
Unlike the other EVs, however, the Zoe comes with DRM attached to its battery pack. In short: If you value your ability to drive the Zoe at all, then you will submit to a rental contract with the pack’s manufacturer. Should you fail to pay the rent or your lease term expires, Renault can and will turn your Zoe into an expensive, useless paperweight by preventing the pack’s ability to be recharged, consequences be damned.
Blame Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which may be the single suckiest section of that sucky statute: “No person shall circumvent a technological measure that effectively controls access to a work protected under this title.” Almost anyone with a computer has had to fight with DRM at some point, and cars are more computerized than ever.
I am not hopeful, but:
At present, Representative Zoe [!] Lofgren, D-Calif., is leading a bipartisan charge to bring about the Unlocking Technology Act, designed to limit the overzealous use of the DMCA and Section 1201 to cases where real intellectual property infringement has occurred. Should this bill become law, it would go a long way to preventing the abuses that have hindered progress elsewhere from infecting the automotive industry any further.
I’m about at the point where support for this measure will be required to get any votes out of me.