US to investigate security risk of Chinese 'connected vehicles'

Biden administration voices cybersecurity concerns over Chinese EV software

US to investigate security risk of Chinese 'connected vehicles'
Cybersecurity worries have been raised previously about Ford's battery JV with Catl

The Biden administration has announced an investigation into national security risks posed by so-called connected vehicles from "countries of concern", most notably China.

A connected vehicle is a an EV which can communicate bidirectionally with other system outside of the car. This includes anything from self-driving functionalities to over-the-air software upgrades, encompassing most modern EVs.

"Today, President Biden is taking unprecedented action to protect Americans from the national security risks posed by connected vehicles from countries of concern, including the People’s Republic of China," a White House statement says.

New vulnerabilities and threats could arise with connected autos if a foreign government gained access to these vehicles’ systems or data, the White House says, citing particular concern about the potential of remote control of autonomous vehicles.

"Connected vehicles collect large amounts of sensitive data on their drivers and passengers; regularly use their cameras and sensors to record detailed information on U.S. infrastructure; interact directly with critical infrastructure; and can be piloted or disabled remotely," the statement continues.

The administration did not reveal what action would be taken, although it confirmed that the Department of Commerce will now begin to gather information from industry and the public on the nature of the risks, and the potential steps that could be taken to mitigate them.

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The prospect of imported Chinese EVs has been long cited as a threat to both US EV manufacturing, as well as to US national security interests.

Opposition to Chinese imports in the US has been led by the House Select Committee on the CCP. Many lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have called for either tariff hikes on Chinese EVs or investigations into cybersecurity risks posed by JVs between US and Chinese automakers, such as Ford's factory co-operated with Chinese battery leader Catl.

However, an influx of Chinese EVs into the North American market has not yet taken place in meaningful numbers. Leading Chinese EV maker BYD yesterday confirmed that it is not currently planning to enter the US market with its upcoming Mexico plant.

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