Thatcham Research Motor Update

In March Thatcham Research’s Lead Automotive Security Research Engineer, Steve Launchbury visited our HNW teams to discuss vehicle security changes and ways to prevent vehicle theft.

Manufacturers are currently working 2 years behind in the fight to improve their security, as it's only once the flaws have been established can they start to work on fixing them - unfortunately it’s a reactive cycle not a proactive one. Vehicle manufacturers, especially at the higher end such as Mercedes, BMW and Audi are constantly working in competition with each other to develop and deliver the best technology, along with the best vehicle security.

 Range Rover have now released their S5 tracker which is being rolled out with immediate effect. However, this does highlight the shift in their older models becoming the stolen vehicle of choice, due to their lower spec security compared to the brand new models. Thieves have cottoned on to the fact that the tracker requirements are not relevant on the lower valued models and as such are easier to steal.

Did you know?

A common trend of larger criminal organisations is to steal the car and leave it parked up a short distance from the home address, the vehicle is then ‘watched’ for a couple of days to see if it has a tracker leading to the vehicle being retrieved by the police/owner. If it's not traced, the theives will then retrieve the vehicle and drive it to their intended location.

What’s next?

Thatcham’s main focus is now ODB port protection devices and working with companies to develop them further to help prevent vehicle theft.

Vehicle manufacturers also are looking at replacing physical keys with a smartphone app. The vehicle will be hard coded to a master smartphone (vehicle owner) and different smartphone users can be added by the owner to drive the car. All of the users will be automatically registered on a central database with the manufacturer and the owner of the vehicle will be able to control the speed and even the volume of music playing without even being in the car! Currently keys can be cloned however with this new technology they are hoping this will eliminate the issue as the owner of the vehicle controls who has a ‘key’ and the ability to trace ‘rogue’ key users and immobilise them immediately, whilst also providing increased technology that is demanded by car buyers in the current climate.

 It was a thoroughly interesting talk and we fully support efforts to reduce the worrying increase in vehicle theft.




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