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Vitalik Buterin’s Advice for the Auto Industry: How Open Source Could Have Saved Fisker

Last Updated July 9, 2024 2:43 PM
Eddie Mitchell
Last Updated July 9, 2024 2:43 PM
Key Takeaways
  • Electric vehicle firm Fisker is the latest EV startup to go bankrupt in recent times.
  • Vitalik Buterin believes that the open-source approach would benefit the automotive industry and consumers.
  • Linux-based open-source automotive technologies are being widely adopted thanks to firms such as Red Hat.

Ethereum (ETH) co-founder Vitalik Buterin has called for more open source within the automotive industry following yet another EV producer going bankrupt.

Buterin, who has been critical of modern cars before, has highlighted that modern cars packed with proprietary software leave consumers in limbo when they stop manufacturing.

Fisker’s Finances

Electric car maker Fisker went bankrupt in June  2024 following months of financial woes and troubles with its vehicles.

The California-based company that was building electric vehicles (EVs), more specifically the “Ocean” SUV, intended to deliver 42,00 Ocean vehicles in 2023. However, due to production and quality issues, the firm only managed to build 10,000 and sold just half of that figure.

Production was halted in March, slashing the $58,000 price tag they began at by 40%. Most recently, the firm recalled 7,545 Oceans due to water pump failures, and is attempting to offload the final 3231 vehicles for as little as $2500  in a bulk purchase deal.

Fisker is following a long line of EV startups entering into bankruptcy such as Charge Enterprises, Proterra, Lordstown Motors, and others.

Another major cause for concern with the Ocean SUV was its glitchy  proprietary software. As part of its bankruptcy deal to repay its debts, Fisker is hoping to give prospective buyers access to this software so that buyers of the remaining Oceans can receive support over the long term.

Vitalik on Open Source

Highlighting the damage this does to consumers by leaving them with a discontinued vehicle after a manufacturer closes shop, Buterin called  for more open-source tech in the automotive industry – a sentiment shared by automotive influencer, The EV Guy.

This isn’t the first time Buterin has commented on the modern automotive industry. In January, Buterin expressed his concerns with modern cars and privacy, describing them as “highly networked computers” that are a “privacy nightmare”.

Automotive, Open Source

By its very nature, open source allows anyone to access, iterate, and potentially improve upon an existing concept, product, service, or technology. Seemingly there are firms working to address the need for user privacy and privacy, as noted by Buterin.

Red Hat, a firm dedicated to the promotion and implementation of the open-source approach within enterprises, is working to bring this to the automotive industry. Notably, it has partnered with Deloitte and Renesas to improve software-defined vehicles (SDVs).

According to Francis Chow, Vice President and General Manager of In-Vehicle Operating System and Edge at Red Hat, open source will fuel innovation . By providing manufacturers and consumers with a means of not only improving and potentially extending an EV/SDV vehicle’s life cycle with continuous updates and upgrades, regardless of whether or not the original manufacturer exists anymore.

Most recently, a fundamental component of the firm’s in-vehicle operating system received the “ISO 26262 ASIL-B” certification . ISO 26262 is the international standard for the functional safety of electrical and/or electric systems in road vehicles.

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