There Are Currently 9,000 Unsold Chevrolet Corvettes Crowding Dealer Lots

Every boomer's favorite American-made sports car (also known as the seventh-generation Corvette) has officially reached its fifth production model year. As the upcoming mid-engine Corvette is nearing market availability in the second half of 2019, would-be buyers are sitting on their cash in favor of the new cars, and according to dealer-to-dealer supply data from eInventory, the result is a pile-up of unsold cars from around the country.

C7 Corvette sales as a whole seem to have peaked in 2016 and have been steadily declining since. In fact, customer-facing sales reached a new low in January 2019 after data revealed that only 800 Corvettes were sold during the entire month, a 20-percent decline from a year prior. This comes at little surprise given that General Motors isn't offering any eye-catching dealer incentives at present time despite the model nearing the end of its lifecycle.

Yet, dealers around the country continue to requisition new stock of the aging sports car in an effort to avoid having their future allocations limited.

When purchasing a Corvette, customers go through the typical new-car ordering process. If one isn't available at the dealer in the color, trim, or package that is desired, the customer can place an order to have a vehicle built to their exact specification and invoiced accordingly. However, if a constraint is placed on a particular configuration and the dealership isn't able to order enough volume to guarantee stock, the customer's order could be delayed for some period of time until the allocation can be made to the dealer.

Small dealers, in particular, are at the highest risk of being limited by constraints due to lack of competitive purchasing figures when compared to larger entities. While this may seem futile at the end of a model generation's life, it's important to note that passing up on current allocations could directly impact a dealer's availability of the C8 Corvette upon release.

Though sales are slim and inventory numbers continue to rise, GM shows no sign of ending production in the near future. Perhaps the automaker is boosting its inventory numbers while it prepares to shut down production at its Bowling Green plant in order to complete the assembly line upgrades for the next generation C8. The facility's last major shutdown occurred in the second half of 2017, rumored to be the result of C8-related plant retooling. The rumors began to hit harder when it was coupled with the news that the factory would be closed for visitors until late 2018, before the revelation that the C8 production was delayed due to electrical issues.

Porsche Made Vinyl Records From the Tires of Le Mans-Winning 919 Hybrid, Because Why Not

I'm a sucker for things made from car parts. From luxury handbags conjured from the tire tracks of the legendary AMG GT-R to a watch winder crafted into the bare bottom-end of a BMW M52 engine, I can have fun window shopping all day long. Porsche wants in on the game too, and its newest lifestyle product was created by turning the spent rubber from the Le Mans-winning 919 Hybrid into the art of sound.

The 1,160-horsepower Porsche 919 Hybrid is more car than most people will ever have the pleasure of driving in their whole lifetime. Built exclusively for winning the World Endurance Championship's LMP1 class, Porsche made waves 'round the world when showing off the capabilities of its electrified rocket.

And when it retired from its official racing career, Porsche began to break all of the barriers that were previously locked behind the gates of bureaucracy. Before becoming dormant once again, Porsche went on a killing spree—annihilating records at the Nurburgring Nordschleife and slaughtering laps the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps.

Before the 919 became a reality, Porsche had a history of racing—decades of it, in fact, beginning with the Le Mans victory of the famous 356 SL in 1951. In that time, the purveyors of performance built a collection of quips and stories to share with the world and are doing so with a collection of sound called "The 24 Minutes of Le Mans." As if the history and beautifully composed audio tracks aren't enough, Porsche adds a bit of gasoline to the fire that will undoubtedly make any collector bite their fingernails in anticipation.

When the 919 was finished racing, its tires weren't just tucked away in a storage shed or thrown to a recycler. Instead, Porsche reclaimed the rubber by shredding the Michelins and compressing them into vinyl records. When the needle hits the grooves, 24 tracks (each one minute in length) begin to fill the listener with the rich, warm sound that only vinyl can.

Only 200 records will be produced, and 24 of them will be going up for auction on Feb. 24. Porsche will donate the proceeds to Loisirs Pluriel, an organization in France that helps to care for children with disabilities.

If you're like me and have zero chances of winning the auction, you can still listen to the contents of the records on your favorite streaming service. Porsche has uploaded the 24-minutes of audio to Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music, Youtube, Deezer, and Soundcloud, which I enjoyed whilst writing this very piece.

This Volkswagen Van Hoarder Is Selling 55 Volkswagen Westfalias for $350,000

Car collectors are a strange breed. Sometimes, a vehicle will speak to a person through its driving characteristics, styling, engineering, or some other way that makes it impossible not to fall in love. After a while, you buy another to keep that feeling alive, and another, and another. And eventually, you end up with 55 split-window Volkswagen Westfalias in your backyard.

We're not sure how a Canadian car collector hoarder named "Rob" ended up with this many Type 2s (and a few Vanagons), but we do know that his for-sale listing has us questioning our priorities and bank accounts. Over the weekend, Rob posted an ad showcasing his hoard of buses and offering them up to sale for the right buyer.

For $350,000 (USD), or about $6,363.63 per bus, you could become the new owner of 55 Westfalia-converted T2s and Vanagon campers, perfect for someone who desires to go camping in a different vehicle every weekend. Alternatively, one could restore them and enjoy 55 slices of Volkswagen history. Despite some of the vans in the photos looking rather rough, Rob notes that every van is in "good restorable condition."

The ad also boasts the most hardcore no-tire-kickers deterrent we've ever seen, as potential parties interested in purchasing the lot are subject to a $500 viewing fee, due in cash. Unfortunately, collectors without the full $350,000 seemingly won't be able to split the lot. Rob words the ad in a way that seems like he wants to sell them all at once, noting that someone "must buy and remove all of them." At the time of writing, Rob didn't answer The Drive's request for comment on the collection.

Distinguishable as the "pop-top" Volkswagen Bus, the camper-converted vehicles, in particular, are sought after by collectors. The conversions were done by a company called Westfalia-Werke and gained popularity on the Volkswagen T2s and Vanagons. In addition to the pop-top roof, certain weekender amenities were fitted into the vehicle throughout the years, including cabinets, sinks, stoves, and refrigerators.

So, who's going all-in?

2019 Ford Focus ST: Europe-Only Hatch Gets Detuned RS Engine With 276 HP

Year Make Model: 2019 Ford Focus ST.

Topline: Ford's hot hatch is back to instill fear into the likes of the Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR and Hyundai i30 N. Sporting a more robust powertrain and refined drivetrain, the Focus ST is ready to rear its head into the European market for 2019 with a brand new look and feel.

What’s New: First and foremost, the new ST offers a significant power increase for its gasoline-powered engine. As predicted, the ST will use a detuned version of the 2.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder offered in the Focus RS. The result is a free-revving platform pumping out 276 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque, which is a modest 12-percent increase in power from previous generations.

Die-hard diesel fans will also receive some love from Ford with an optional 2.0-liter EcoBlue diesel engine. Choosing the coal-rolling route will provide drivers with 190 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of near-instant torque.

The ST remains front wheel drive so as not to compete with its big brother, the Focus RS. A six-speed transmission remains standard equipment, albeit fitted with a throw shift that's 7 percent shorter. Equipping an optional performance package will equip the Focus ST with the ability to make sharp downshift using the same precise rev-matching technology found in the Mustang. Ford will also introduce an all-new seven-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters for drivers who prefer a clutchless experience.

If you've ever driven a Focus ST before, one immediate takeaway from mashing the gas pedal is the car's ability to spin tires and deliver torque-steer from a dig. The engineers at Ford have decided to combat this by equipping the newest generation ST with an electronic Limited Slip Differential (eLSD). Using a series of hydraulically actuated clutches, the eLSD can intelligently limit the power delivered to a slipping wheel in order to regain traction and provide optimal handling.

With the bump in power and improvement to its delivery, Ford says that sprinting from zero to 60 will take less than six seconds.

Quotable: “The EcoBoost petrol and EcoBlue diesel powertrains have unique characters, but are equally charismatic,” said Leo Roeks, Performance director of Ford Europe. “The Focus ST’s sporty ‘pops and bangs’ soundtrack perfectly matches the car’s feisty performance and is an essential part of the ST experience.”

What You Need to Know: Performance aside, the Focus ST is a sharp looking hot hatch. The newest generation does not disappoint in this aspect, as defined lines and European-inspired aero bits make the ST impossible to miss while still offering the practicality of an everyday, practical hatchback.

Ford will also ensure that customers requiring a bit more space can still enjoy ST treatment. Similar to the Focus Active, the Focus ST will be offered on an optional stretched wheelbase to offer a spot in the wagon class in addition to its traditional hot hatch appeal.

Moreover, Ford has retained certain key features that made the ST unique. The layout of its interior and flat-bottom steering wheel feel extremely familiar to owners of previous models, while other pleasing aesthetic changes to the interior of the car make it look much more modern. The bolstered seats appear to be slightly more accommodating than previous-generation Recaros, and the choice to use a pop-out, tablet-sized display screams "I'm hip!"

If there's one thing that Ford has done a good job with this car, it's making it feel like a proper successor to the previous generation Focus ST. It's clear that this new ST inherited the good looks of its parents; hopefully, it has a hint of their driving characteristics too.

Driving a Tesla Model 3 Performance in the Cold Could Void Tire Warranty

It's no secret that running summer tires in the winter isn't smart. The Drive has discovered that the Tesla Model 3 Performance sedan doesn't come with an alternative unless purchased as optional equipment. As a result, many Model 3 Performance owners face a predicament: they are potentially voiding the original manufacturer warranty on their tires as soon as they drive their shiny new Teslas off the lot—or in some circumstances before they take delivery of the cars.

When ordering the Model 3 Performance, the "Performance Upgrade Package" (affectionately called the "PUP") is now automatically bundled into the purchase of the vehicle. Previously, the package was more à la carte style, where upgrades could be added to the base Performance-level trim. This particular package adds Tesla's 20-inch "Performance Wheels," which are wrapped in wonderful Michelin Pilot Sport 4S—summer tires. While this may be a logical choice in when the weather is agreeable, Tesla does not offer a winter tire substitute, nor does it appear common practice to inform customers (or employees) of the tire's specific use-case.

This might not seem like a big deal. However, Michelin notes that its summer tires—specifically the PS4S—are not recommended for use in the cold. When Michelin's summer compound tires are exposed to cold air below 40 degrees, the tire compound stiffens and loses pliability, and the grip level degrades dangerously. As temperatures dip below 20 degrees, the tire's surface area may begin to crack due to improper exposure and use—and those cracks would void the warranty.

Michelin spokesman Tom Sullivan notes that while there is no direct impact to warranty when driving at any temperature, the company did issue a technical bulletin that contains recommendations regarding the use of summer tires in cold weather:

At tire temperatures below 20F (-7°C) Michelin UHP Sport Summer tires may develop surface cracks in the upper sidewall and tread area if flexed. Do not use, roll, or drop MICHELIN UHP Sport Summer tires with temperatures below 20°F (-7°C). If the tires have been cooled to 20°F (-7°C) or less, let them warm up in a heated space to at least 40°F (5°C) before being installed or moving a vehicle on which they are installed. Do not apply heat or blow heated air directly on the tires. Always inspect tires before use after exposure to temperatures below 20°F (-7°C).

The spokesperson later confirmed to The Drive that weather-related cracking would indicate that the tires were flexed in inadvisable conditions and would be considered improperly used, thus rendering the tires unwarrantable in most scenarios.

Michelin's official warranty documentation does not contain this verbatim. However, it states that tires will not be warranted should they experience weather cracking. A representative from Michelin's call center expanded on the warranty, stating that the PS4S should not be used under 43 degrees.

Tire Rack <a href=posts a disclaimer on the Michelin Pilot Sport 4S product page regarding temperature." />

“Proper usage and storage is the recommendation for summer performance tires," a Michelin spokesperson told The Drive. "While flexing typically denotes misuse, anytime a consumer has questions or concerns about their tires, we recommend that they call Michelin Consumer Care."

The Drive also reached out to Tesla in January about the use of the Michelin PS4S on cars delivered in northern states where it gets really cold in the winter, and a spokesperson said they said they had no consumer information or documentation related to Michelin's acceptable conditions for the tires equipped on the Model 3 PUP.

We combed through the Model 3 owner's guide provided by Tesla and was able to find a short blurb regarding summer tires and traction concerns, however, no information was included regarding acceptable temperature ranges.

Excerpt in Model 3 owner's manual about summer tires.

Other automakers, like Honda, offer more detail about acceptable temperatures for their tires. The Civic Type R, for example, contains a blurb about the use of winter tires on the factory Monroney sticker affixed to the vehicle's window.

<a href=Honda uses an entire section of its manual to explain summer tire use and safety to customers." />

The Drive later spoke with the assistant manager of a Tesla showroom who stated that no customer had ever asked about the Michelin PS4S tires being delivered in the winter. In fact, he was not aware of any temperature restrictions from the manufacturer and was unable to confirm if Tesla could substitute the Michelin tires for something more seasonally appropriate. A Tesla spokesperson later told The Drive that an optional winter package is available to the customer if they purchase it separately as an accessory for $4,000.

When queried about the warranty of the tires (should temperature-related fractures occur), the employee stated that Tesla usually does right by the customer and would likely warrant the tires in a scenario where Michelin would not.

Over the phone, a Tesla representative told The Drive that tire warranties are typically handled through the manufacturer of the tire and not the automaker.

It appeared that the lack of tire awareness did not end at the Tesla showroom. Some customers were also unaware of the standards held by Michelin for its tires. One owner told The Drive that he took delivery of his car at the Tesla Store in Salt Lake City on December 10th, 2018, which had a high of 39 degrees that day. According to the owner, his delivery advisor made no mention of tire warranty, nor the acceptable temperature conditions before he drove away. Another driver confirmed that he was delivered a Model 3 PUP in mid-November and was also not made aware of Michelin's warranty.

"I had no idea the Michelin PS4S tires were that 'fragile,' was only informed that they were 'summer' tires (obvious from the tread pattern)," wrote one owner when The Drive asked if he was made aware of Michelin's specifications before purchasing his car or at the Tesla showroom, "I have driven in cold weather when roads were clear but now I'm not that happy about leaving the car parked, maybe all winter."

After speaking with the assistant manager at the Tesla showroom regarding the tire warranties, The Drive also inquired about how quickly a Model 3 PUP could be purchased if an order was placed today. He advised that several Model 3 PUPs were immediately available for purchase, stored in nearby lots located in Bensalem, Pennsylvania and Devon, Pennsylvania. At the end of January, temperatures in areas of both lots would have dipped into the single digits.

Historic temperatures show that vehicles on the lot may have been exposed to temperatures well under acceptable weight-bearing conditions.

Any Model 3 PUPs with Michelin PS4S tires could, according to the Michelin customer service representative, develop weather-related stress fractures from bearing the weight of the two-ton electric automobile. This could, in turn, result in a customer receiving a vehicle with weather-related stress fractures upon delivery should the service team at Tesla not notice.

The storage problem of vehicles in sub-freezing temperatures isn't exclusive to Pennsylvania lots. A number of Model 3 PUPs with the Michelin PS4S tires have been spotted at various service centers and storage lots around the United States. The example photos below were taken at a lot in Boston where several PUPs sat for weeks in the cold weather, some even sitting on flat tires.

Another Tweet showing a Tesla store in Chicago features the aftermath of a December 31st sales push. The temperature in Chicago on New Year's Eve and New Year's day ranged from 27 degrees to 41 degrees; an unacceptable range according to Michelin's standards. In the lot, a Model 3 can be seen resting on PUP wheels.

The problem is not that Tesla sold a number of vehicles with summer tires; but that it potentially put buyers in a position where Michelin's warranty may be voided due to lack of buyer education, or perhaps even before the vehicle was even delivered.

And that's just cold.

Tesla Launches ‘Dog Mode’ to Help Furry Friends Stay Safe While Waiting in Car

On Wednesday, Tesla announced the release of a new feature specifically aimed at keeping your pets (and windows) safe during extreme weather. Dubbed “Dog Mode,” the feature keeps the climate control functioning after the driver exists the vehicle so that any pets inside stay at a safe temperature.

Owners can enter the climate control context menu on their cars and choose "Dog" to enable the feature. Once activated, the acceptable temperature limits are set and the work is done. If the vehicle's battery dips under 20 percent while Dog Mode is active, owners are alerted on their smartphones to take action.

Unlike a traditional gas-powered car that makes noise as it idles, an electric car doesn't produce an audible growl when switched on because it uses stored powered in its high-voltage batteries to perform essential functions instead of actively combusting gas. When drivers leave their pets in the car for a short period of time during bouts of extreme weather, it can be difficult for passers by to tell if the vehicle is actually keeping the animals at a comfortable temperature with no noise to indicate that a vehicle is actively heating or cooling the cabin.

Because of this, Tesla made sure to display the internal temperature of the vehicle on the large center display of the vehicle. Though Tesla only shows the Model 3's display as an example, we would imagine that the Model S and Model X share similar imagery on their portrait-oriented center displays.

A message is displayed on the Model 3's display with the internal temperature of the cabin

The idea for Dog Mode actually stemmed from a tweet sent to Tesla CEO Elon Musk asking if a feature could be enabled to display a message nearly identical to that rolled out into production. Another tweet suggests displaying the internal temperature as well. This isn't the first time that a suggestion on Twitter has turned into a vehicle feature, and we certainly hope it isn't the last. Such is a value-add with any vehicle that can utilize over-the-air update functionality.

In 2016, Tesla released a preliminary version of this feature called "Cabin Overheat Protection" that was aimed at keeping kids safe in the car. Dog Mode seems to build on this model and looks to put an emphasis on telling those who might notice your pets in the car not to smash your windows to rescue them, because they're already more comfortable that whatever temperature it is outside.

Apple’s Semi-Autonomous Program Ranks Dead-Last in Human Intervention Statistics

With the push to have the first true self-driving car on the market, big players in Silicon Valley are all lining up to test their hands in the field. As part of an agreement to use California as their testing bed, companies submit data to the state's Department of Motor Vehicles to summarize the success (and failures) of its vehicles. As always, one company must come in last place for something, and this time it's Apple.

On Tuesday, the California DMV released a mound of data related to vehicles engaged in semi-autonomous testing on public roads. Though the statistics were taken down, they have been hosted and organized elsewhere online. Information in the report aggregates the date range from December 2017 until November 2018 and specifically focuses on the number of times a software-driven vehicle relinquished control of the automobile to the human safety driver behind the wheel.

Overall summary of the average mileage a vehicle traveled while operating semi-autonomously without relinquishing control to the human driver.

Waymo came out on top, leading the pack with an average 11,154 miles of successful driving without any hiccups—more than twice that of its nearest competitor, General Motors' Cruise. Apple's Project Titan, which recently slashed more than 200 jobs, ranked absolute last with a hand-off back to the human driver every 1.1 miles driven. Perhaps this is why Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak has such little faith in vehicle autonomy.

Surprisingly, other large names like Bosch, Intel (Mobileye), Tesla, Uber, and Voyage do not report any testing statistics.

For automakers who actively sell vehicles in the United States, Nissan crushed the competition by averaging 210 miles between disengagement. While this may seem abysmal compared to Waymo, Nissan did eclipse its nearest OEM competitor, BMW, by a factor of more than 45.

Of automakers who aggregated data, Nissan proved to average the most miles without a disengagement.

In all, the DMV's statistics recorded 2,009,474 miles of real-world travel and 74,550 disengagements. This indicates that the industry average (at least in California) for the 2017-2018 data set would be one disengagement every 27 miles.

The top takeaway from the information presented by the DMV is that software-based Advanced Driver Assistance Systems have a long way to go before the human is removed from the equation.

Over 7 Million Americans Are at Least 3 Months Behind on Car Payment, Study Says

It's no secret that Americans love cars. We find something that is marketed to fit our every need and desire, and then roll the debt from our previous upside-down auto loan into a new car payment for 96 months at 5-percent interest. Exaggerations aside, the number of defunct auto loans is the highest it's ever been, according to a report from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, topping over 7 million borrowers who are more than 90 days past-due on their auto note.

For the 18th year in a row, Americans are taking out more auto loans than ever. In fact, borrowers took out a staggering $584 billion in auto loans and leases, an increase of 3 percent from 2017's $569 billion. This has amassed to create a stockpile of borrowers that the NY Fed is calling the "highest quality" that it has observed since it began monitoring auto loan statistics in 2000. Consequently, it also represents an increase in subprime auto loan borrowers with low credit scores, and as a result, a larger pool of higher risk borrowers.

Unsurprisingly, loans taken out by borrowers with subprime credit scores (below 620) have been tied to serious delinquency. More than 8 percent of borrowers with credit scores below this threshold were found to be defaulting their repayment obligations. But perhaps one of the most interesting statistics that shaped theories in the report was the age factor. More than 4 percent of borrowers aged 18 to 29 were marked as being delinquent on their loan repayment.

Data shows that delinquency among borrowers with low credit scores are beginning to approach levels observed during the 2008 recession.

The report continues to suggest that the youth of America and those with undeveloped credit are having the most hardship when repaying vehicle loans. Perhaps, questions the Washington Post, the data suggests that new graduates are having difficulty juggling student loan repayment with that of an auto loan.

However, defunct auto loans could be an early signal of financial distress amongst low-income and working-class Americans. During Tesla's fourth-quarter earnings call, both financial analysts and CEO Elon Musk discussed the potential fallout on new automobile sales should a predicted recession take place in 2019.

Another avenue to explore is that automobiles are simply increasing in price. Costs associated with buying new cars could also be at play. In 2018, the average price tag for light vehicles in the United States increased 2.1 percent from the previous year, perhaps driven by an uptick in costs associated with SUV sales. In all, the average Joe will find him or herself paying, on average, $35,444 for a brand new vehicle, plus an average national interest rate of 5.2 percent. At the same time, Americans are also holding on to their older vehicles for a record amount of time. Data from Euromonitor International shows that the average on-road vehicle is 11.6 years old.

Whatever the cause, many financial advisers seem to suggest that when buying a new vehicle, consumers should shop for the automobile and financing separately and avoid predatory buy-here-pay-here loans with high interest rates.

Sting Hired by Canadian Labor Union Unifor to Help Save GM Oshawa Plant

General Motors' decision to cease production at five North American manufacturing facilities has earmarked the beginning of job cuts in the thousands. Canadian labor union Unifor has since lobbied to help save the Ontario-based Oshawa assembly plant and has recently recruited the help of musician Sting to help it do so.

Unifor announced that Sting would visit the Oshawa assembly plant on Thursday for a brief performance. The labor union paid to rent the nearby Tribute Communities Centre for the appearance, however, Sting and his cast have agreed to perform at no cost.

The artist is currently touring nearby in Toronto where he is cast in his aptly named rendition, The Last Ship. The musical carries a theme which is closely tied with the closing of the Oshawa plant, depicting the downfall of the shipbuilding industry in the English town of Wallsend and the closure of the town's famous Swan Hunter shipyard.

“With the departure of shipbuilding from his hometown, Sting witnessed first-hand what becomes of workers and their families when the core industry is ripped away,” affirms Unifor president Jerry Dias.

GM announced in November that it would deallocate production from Oshawa and would begin negotiations for the plant closure in the coming months. Currently, the automaker produces the Cadillac XTS and Chevrolet Impala at the facility, as well as provides a final assembly for the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra. Both the XTS and Impala are killed off as part of GM's global restructuring plan.

Unifor continues to lobby for the 2,600 hourly workers currently employed at the Oshawa assembly plant which is set to close by the end of 2019. Workers at the plant have previously staged walk-outs to combat the closure, resulting in production delays at the facility.

Apple’s Newly Patented Tech Will Let You Unlock Your Car Via Face ID

Unlocking a car has always seemed like something so simple that we've largely ignored the changes that have happened over the years. From pin tumblers to wafer-based locks, transponders, and eventually passive entry systems, the evolution of how we've gained access to our cars has changed a lot over the years. Now, a patent published by Apple shows that it wants the world to move even further into the future by unlocking and starting their cars with their phones and faces.

Despite being published recently, this concept isn't new by any means. When it was when first filed by Apple in 2017, the idea was fresh in the heads of many automakers as part of their app-based suite of connected features. Today, starting your car with your phone or bodily feature is fairly commonplace. Ford allows its owners to use the Sync ecosystem to remotely start their vehicles and Tesla's Model 3 allows for a smartphone to unlock its doors. Hyundai's newest bio-tech even allows owners to start their vehicle with just a fingerprint.

The difference in Apple's approach is likely that it would make this particular feature an integral part of the phone's operating system rather than part of a proprietary app. Language in the patent is fairly broad, however, it describes using sensors and imaging devices to remotely authenticate a user from a "mobile computing device" in order to unlock a vehicle as it was approached. This could indicate an intended use of Face ID or other biometric means using an iPhone.

Don't have an iPhone? No problem; the patent doesn't just stop at phones. The intellectual property continues to describe a method in which a Face ID-like system could be integrated into the exterior of a vehicle in order to perform similar facial recognition tasks and identify a driver.

Furthermore, Apple's patent also suggests the use of multiple driver profiles depending on which phone or individual is seen approaching the vehicle. Things like seat positioning, climate control, radio presets, and other memory-programmable devices are all suggested personalizations that could be utilized by an automaker using this technology. Apple even describes sharing out virtual keys for valets or to access to only certain parts of the vehicle (like a trunk or glove box), perfect for couriers using Amazon's latest delivery method.

A push for smartphone-based authentication is an additional security layer over the convenience of modern passive-entry keys. Unlike most proximity-based entry systems, Apple claims that its invention would not be susceptible to man-in-the-middle attacks which are exploited by thieves to gain entry to vehicles and even drive them away without ever touching a key.

The usefulness of Apple's patent doesn't just end with vehicle entry. Apple also wants to make use of proximity-based geofencing to promote the purchasing of goods and services. For example, the vehicle could detect if it was in range of a payment gateway for an electric vehicle charger in order to pay for electricity, or perhaps a Grande Caramel Macchiato from a Starbucks drive-through.

If and where this technology will be used is still a mystery. One could speculate that it could be seen in a future road-going Apple vehicle, however, the future of that particular project is relatively unknown. Recently, the tech giant slashed 200 or more jobs from its autonomous driving division Project Titan which, in a secret closed-door project, doesn't reveal much. Should the technology actually make it into a consumer-facing project, a whole new world of connected cars could further reshape the way we think about mobility as a whole.