back to article What we all really need is an SD card for our cars. Thanks, SanDisk

SanDisk has introduced an SD flash card for cars, toughening up its standard product to withstand life in the jerky mobile micro data centre hell that is the road warrior's chariot. Its Automotive SD card features: 8, 16, 32 and 64GB capacities up to 20MB/sec sequential read speed Operating temperatures ranging from -40°C …

  1. Cynical Observer

    New sticky labels bought - need to find use for them

    Really.....? Why?

    I can imagine that the environment right next to the piston heads might be a hostile space. But a slot in the glove compartment isn't. Yes it may have temperature variations that are more extreme than being indoors but beyond that....

    These cards will probably not require repeated insertion/removal so the contacts in the slot can be engineered to grip that little bit tighter.

    Other than that - this strikes me as another "Gold Plated HDMI Cables" solution - for ultra crisp tones when moving those digital signals form one location to another.

    1. AndyS

      Re: New sticky labels bought - need to find use for them

      See my comment below - I agree entirely, but suspect this is aimed at the manufacturers not the consumers. Vehicle OEMs tend to have standard lists of requirements for built-in equipment (temperature, vibration, life span etc), so having a card which meets these off-the-shelf will give SanDisk a foot in the door.

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: New sticky labels bought - need to find use for them

        Makes me worry that the ones in my slung around the place camera bag aren't up to the job...

    2. DanDanDan

      Re: New sticky labels bought - need to find use for them

      I think people are missing the point here. The aim of these SD cards isn't solely to play music from or store SatNav maps. It's also for Driver Assist Technology and data event recorders (i.e. crash information that manufacturers use to identify the causes of accidents, etc.)

      These need to be robust, with proven long-lifetime, all the necessary additional automotive tests, suitable for low and high temperatures (so that they can survive said crash), withstand bumps and bashes (you don't want its connectors coming loose just as the car slips off the side of the road. These aren't aimed at consumers, but manufacturers. Automotive grade electronics equipment has a whole suit of additional tests. You can't pop any old diode into a power charging circuit these days, so why do so many people here think manufacturers will be content to use any old SD card?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: New sticky labels bought - need to find use for them

      Ask yourself why any manual tells you not to leave electronics in car... most devices are not built with materialas able to stand those temperature variations over and over. They may be exposed to air contaminated with elements that can increase oxydation or other chemical changes.

      Most components - even cables - used in harsh environments, i.e. airplanes, are built with fairly higher standards than the average consumer ones.

      But who reads manuals today?

      1. Cynical Observer

        Re: New sticky labels bought - need to find use for them

        most devices are not built with materialas able to stand those temperature variations over and over. They may be exposed to air contaminated with elements that can increase oxydation or other chemical changes.

        I've had a set of USB keys in the car for over 6 years - loaded with music and never an issue with them. As I said in my first post - in a harsh environment, such as the engine compartment I can see the possible rationale, But in the passenger compartment - nope Just don't see it - and as it seems sensible to place the slot in some form of protective enclosure (after all who would want the card to fall out while driving down the road) then why not wire it all the way into the cabin.

        Still feels like a solution looking for a problem.

        1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

          Re: New sticky labels bought - need to find use for them

          I've had a set of USB keys in the car for over 6 years - loaded with music and never an issue with them.

          Er... Where... Blighty? Sure.

          That does not match my experience from less forgiving climates. +40 in the shade (> +60 in car) in summer and -15 in winter does merry hell with both electronics and plastics. An el-cheapo car stereo like the ones sold by Argos or Maplin (Goodmans and its brethren) which fully functional in the UK 10 years after purchase, has the plastics crumbling in 5 year time. A more expensive one (as was in my case - Pioneer) starts having some nasty current leaks draining your batter and ultimately setting itself on fire.

          There is a reason for car spec electronics and plastics - the environmentals for some regions are really bad. Even in the glove box.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: New sticky labels bought - need to find use for them

          Where do you live? Some cars have to work in much harsher environment than a city in the temperate zone. And while nobody cares if your mp3 collection fails, if the card is used for something more important, it can't fail easily, and without notice. There are not cards designed for the entertainment system. Industrial cards made to last longer in harsh environments are not anything new.

          I've worked on hardened systems for very harsh environments and military use, and they are built with specific components designed and tested to last in those uses. Probably these ones are not so specced, yet they may be more reliable than the those for the average entertainment use.

          And while your USB works, I've see spectacular SD and CF cards failures in photography - some are used in some harsh outdoor environments. Some survive even after harsh conditions, other fails - but in some uses you can't rely on "well, there's a hope it survives" - you need to be reasonable assured it will.

        3. Trygve

          Re: New sticky labels bought - need to find use for them

          "I've had a set of USB keys in the car for over 6 years - loaded with music and never an issue with them."

          So you'd be A-OK with having a few million of them floating around out there with a 5-year warranty date on them and your personal phone number embossed next to "please call 24/7 in case of failure"? Because that's what the likes of Ford and Toyota are committing to.

          Paying a few cents extra for the cards is no-brainer cheap when it probably costs $10 just to log and process a phone call, never mind actually having to do a warranty repair and placate customers who've had their satnav or entertainment system conk out in the middle of BFE at 6pm on a sunday with three screaming kids in the back seat.

      2. Zork-1

        Re: New sticky labels bought - need to find use for them

        Also to prevent theft :P

        Anyway for those who don't think a car can get so cold or so hot, try locking yourself in one during winter or summer, without air conditioning. That's how pets and children die.

      3. BillG Silver badge

        Automotive Electronics and Quality

        I've worked in Automotive Electronics for over ten years and I can tell you these memory cards are necessary. Automotive is an extremely harsh environment, and electronics in the cabin needs to be qualified over extremes of temperatures from -45°C to +105°C (up to 125°C in the engine compartment). There are also tests for vibration, high humidity, and long life.

        For automotive semiconductors the specification is AEC-Q200 - look it up.

        Maybe your commercial-grade USB stick is serving you well in your car, but consider that a failure rate of 5% is considered high and completely unacceptable in automotive electronics. If you have 50,000 vehicles that means 2,500 failures you will read about on the internet.

        I can tell you that, in the early mad rush to connect cars, many car manufacturers were only using commercial-grade connectivity products (WiFi, Bluetooth, Ethernet, etc). Watch how many of these cars have failures four years after they were sold.

    4. cirby

      Car interior temps

      They're speccing these cards to work at -40C (found in some parts of the world during winter) and 85C (which is only about 15C higher than interior temps can reach in the southwest US in summer).

      That's why.

      1. Smooth Newt

        Re: Car interior temps

        Bog standard Sandisk SD cards can operate over a temperature range -25C to +85C, and cope with 3 days immersed in salt water, and 500G acceleration. Seems good enough for me, but then I only drive around Slough.,-temperature,-magnetic-and

        1. JeffyPoooh Silver badge

          Re: Car interior temps

          Smooth Newt "...but then I only drive around Slough."

          Ah, home of the famous 'Peppermint Hippopotamus Club' from that Top Gear Challenge.


        2. jonmorris

          Re: Car interior temps

          I doubt they've got the technology to produce a card able to cope with all the conditions you can find in Slough!

      2. JeffyPoooh Silver badge

        Re: Car interior temps

        cirby "... -40°C (found in some parts of the world during winter)..."

        As opposed to -40°F ? :-)

        PS: Much of Canada. Thankfully not the part I'm in.

        1. Luiz Abdala

          Re: Car interior temps

          At -32ºC, both temperature scales match.

          -32F or -32C, you are freezing just as bad.

          Give me my damn coat before I freeze.

    5. This post has been deleted by its author

    6. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: New sticky labels bought - need to find use for them

      "Really.....? Why?"

      Automotive spec has existed for a long time and is _tougher_ than military spec (particularly the temperature range but also EMI resistance)

      It got created because carmakers found they needed it. Military spec wasn't good enough to cater to the wide variations in temperature encountered across the planet along with a functional requirement to operate trouble-free for at least 12 years.

      For what it's worth, on a hot sunny day in england's mild climate the inside of your dashboard can easily reach 60C after a few hours, let alone more "tropical" parts of the world.

      These cards exist to serve a specific market (OEMS) and only a tiny fraction will find themselves in the aftermarket. It's stuff like this which ensures your car isn't in the workshop every 6 months with yet another electrical failure (the most common failure item these days is bad plug/socket connections and even that's rare now that gel-filled connectors are the norm so that water can't get in and corrode the connections.)

  2. AndyS

    Aren't SD cards already pretty common in cars (eg my built-in Sat Nav has one buried under the dash somewhere), and extremely common in things in cars (after market Sat Navs, along with pretty much any portable electronic device?

    Is there a big problem with them failing regularly?

    This makes me assume that this isn't driven by a consumer requirement/demand, but is in response to a standard list of requirements from an auto maker. Particularly the temperature range looks like it's been lifted straight from the "suppliers' equipment must do this" document. Which will presumably give SanDisk a foot in the door with an off-the-shelf product, with no additional development costs.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Monster cables for cars

      It's not driven by consumer need (either car company or user), its driven by the need for Sandisk to differentiate themselves in a crowded market, a market driven by price.

      The mechanical connector is the only potential source of problems for mechanical shake, and the connector is defined by the SD standard not SanDisk, so they can have no real effect on it.

      But hey, if people *think* they need the *automotive* version of SD for their cars, then they spend the money and Sandisk wins.

      1. hplasm Silver badge

        Re: Monster cables for cars

        "But hey, if people *think*..."

        Aye, there's the rub!

    2. The Eee 701 Paddock

      Our new-ish Nissan has an SD card slot in the central console (just to the top-right of the satnav/audio/etc display), but I believe it's mostly to carry the satnav data. There's a USB port in the upper glovebox to add a hard- or flash-drive from which to play your MP3s - by coincidence, we use a SanDisk flash (a 64GB Fit "nano") for that purpose.

      As I understand it, you can purchase updated satnav-map SD cards from Nissan if you need them (and/or are feeling somewhat "flush"). I'm guessing SanDisk have an eye on that particular market-opportunity here.

      1. Raedwald

        Sat Nav and speech data(where configured). San Disk actually, special spec and price though we did look at Toshiba industrial range parts as an alternative.

        Has to work in Siberia and Death Valley, for 12 years.Failure rates only tolerated in parts per million level. Unlike some European manufacturers I can mention who were using consumer grade devices and measure failures in per thousand. That's German engineering for you!

    3. jonmorris

      I've got a dash cam and the card has corrupted a couple of times (it's not SanDisk mind, and was one that came with it) so I can see a market for more heavy duty cards for devices that could be vital for providing evidence.

      And I can see some people might pay extra for such peace of mind, even if existing cards would work as well in 99% of situations. Heck, people pay a premium for loads of things when safety is mentioned. If this gives SanDisk a few extra quid to further card development for all then it's no bad thing.

  3. Efros

    Got to protect

    Those moving parts from sudden shock. Erm I think.

  4. Electron Shepherd

    Copy Protection

    It wouldn't surprise me if the "OEM customisation" included some form of copy protection / DRM support. After all, the manufacturers wouldn't want copies of your £150 sat-nav maps update appearing on eBay for £10, would they?

    1. lafnlab

      Re: Copy Protection

      I would bet on ads appearing on various screens.

      [car detects minor accident]

      [ad appears in place of the speedometer]

      "Been injured in an accident? Call 1-800-LAWYERUP!"

      1. Sir Alien

        Re: Copy Protection

        Have an upvote for your witty comment making my day.

        - S.A

      2. Annihilator

        Re: Copy Protection

        [car detects minor accident]

        [ad appears in place of the speedometer]

        "Been injured in an accident? Call 1-800-LAWYERUP!"

        Why bother? They seem to skip the first step before phoning me.. Best example I've experienced:

        "Hello, I understand you were involved in an accident? No? Oh, maybe it was family member? Hmm.. ok, has anyone you know been involved in an accident?"

    2. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Copy Protection

      They already have password protection, although only Nokias ever used it. If you don't give the right password the card can't be read.

    3. Thoguht Silver badge

      Re: Copy Protection

      What do you think the "S" in "SD" stands for? SD cards have supported DRM since day 1, not that many people use it.

    4. JeffyPoooh Silver badge

      Re: Copy Protection

      E.S. "...copy protection / DRM support... ...maps... ...eBay..."

      Such DRM measures should delay the inevitable for about 4 to 6 hours.

      Well worth the effort.

    5. dajames Silver badge

      Re: Copy Protection

      It wouldn't surprise me if the "OEM customisation" included some form of copy protection / DRM support.

      That's a standard feature of all Secure Digital cards ... the clue is in the name.

      I'm not aware of anyone actually using it (yet) though ...

  5. Zog_but_not_the_first Silver badge

    Interesting possibilities

    As noted above, SD cards seem to be pretty common in the cockpit, so I guess these are destined for under the bonnet, which raises interesting possibilities....

    "Swapping out the Christian Motoring SD ECU map. Inserting the Warp Drive SD..."

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: Interesting possibilities

      They've been doing that with ECU chips for years.

  6. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    "as well as remotely monitoring the thing "

    What could possibly go wrong with such a capability?

    1. Adrian 4 Silver badge

      Re: "as well as remotely monitoring the thing "

      I take it that's just registers which the aware OS can read. Or does it include a GSM modem ? That would be interesting.

      1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

        The article specifically states "Auto manufacturers can customise the card, as well as remotely monitoring the thing to see if it's operating okay and find out if/when card upgrades or replacements are needed."

        So, on the face of it, I'd say yeah, there is some sort of wireless lurking around this tech, even if it only works in a garage environment. Then again, think OnStar and its all-knowing eye.

        Thank goodness we all know that wireless is perfectly secure and has never, ever been breached by someone not authorized to access the data.

        Oh wait . . .

      2. JeffyPoooh Silver badge

        Re: "as well as remotely monitoring the thing "

        A4 "Or does it include a GSM modem ? That would be interesting."

        There are, as you may know, SD memory cards with Wifi built in.

        It'll be at least a couple more 'Moore cycles' to get a GSM modem built in. Where would the SIM card go? ;-)

  7. Gomez Adams

    I have used a standard memory card in the sat-nav I use on my motorbike for over ten years with no problems from vibration, damp and heat. A solution looking for a problem? Hell, it even survived an unplanned trip bouncing down the road on its own!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Do you leave the satnav mounted on the motorbike outside, maybe in Winter? What if the card is mounted in the engine electronics, instead of the satnav? I've seen a bad SD (a Transcend) driving crazy my Canon EOS 5D3 electronics. Would you install something like that into electronics driving the engine?

  8. JamesPond

    Gold Plated HDMI Cables

    Been using the same 'ordinary' 16GB SD card in my cars for over 4 years to copy 'safety' (read money grabbing) camera locations, MP3s and POI to the cars HDD without any problems with the SD card. Sits there happily year after year, probably done over 120k miles in that time, popped out once a month to update camera locations and music.

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: Gold Plated HDMI Cables

      People make contact connectors with gold plating to resist tarnishing, on HDMI cables, edge connectors and other bits that we don't know about inside electronics. Do people assume that it's done for bling and get all stroppy about it? It's not even expensive.

      1. Pascal

        Re: Gold Plated HDMI Cables

        When it's about tarnishing and so on and the cable is priced normally, that's all fine and well.

        But don't dout that there are vendors out there (and resellers) that sell gold-plated HDMI cables at 50 to 100 times the price and will swear left and right that colors are better with their $200 cable - complete with "proof" in the form of two identical setup on two identical television sets, one using the cheap cable, one using their $200 cable, to prove that blacks are darker, colors are brighter, framerate is better and so on.

        Of course, there's noooo way that one of the TV sets is tweaked to look like shit, am I right??

        As a side note, I did get in a rather heated argument a few years back on this very topic with the owner of my local high-end audiophile store that ended in me being banned from his store!

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Will these help prevent card corruption when losing the power on a raspberry pi mid-write?

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Good question. Though I think that's more PI than card. I'm fed up of having to reimage our digital signage cards whenever they run a genny test in the hospital, knocking our grid off.

      1. Why Not?

        get a USB battery pack?

        Should give you an hour or two to restart.

        1. TRT Silver badge

          Good idea...

      2. Adrian 4 Silver badge

        @TRT: Make your SD cards read-only (or even write-occasionally), putting signage files and /var/log on a USB stick. I've got a Pi with over 500 days uptime doing that.

        1. fnj

          @Adrian 4, I've had a Beaglebone running 24x7 for well over a year with /var and all other "disk" IO to (the same) micro SD card. It's mission critical. It is DNS and DHCP for my entire network.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    The SD card works perfectly well in the wife's MkVII Golf.

    Sounds like marketing FUD

  11. Simon Harris Silver badge

    Sandisk say of this range...

    "Reliable storage for 3D navigation systems, infotainment systems, ADAS, Advanced HMI, data event recorders, digital instrument clusters, autonomous drive systems and more"

    3D navigation systems? Now all we need are the flying cars to be able to use them!


    1. kmac499

      Re: Sandisk say of this range...

      Damn no wonder my old TomTom satnav was so unreliable, It was using the wrong sort of memory card.

      No wait a mo it worked just fine; as does the microSD in my bluetooth phone rattling around in the centre console and the SD card with a 8Gb of music on it plugged into the car stereo.. I smell marketing.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Audio CD-R

    Anyone remember audio CD-R?

    It was the exact same CD-R, but more expensive because it had a copyright levy AFAIK.


  13. Ian Emery Silver badge

    Options for idiots

    Coming to Fleabay/Amazon soon...

    Sandisk SD card for Nissan

    Sandisk SD card for BMW

    Sandisk SD card for Mercedes

    Sandisk SD card for MG

    Sandisk SD card for Renault

    Sandisk SD card for Peugeot

    Sandisk SD card for Volvo

    Sandisk SD card for Volkswagon

    Sandisk SD card for Skoda

    Sandisk SD card for Vauxhall

    Sandisk SD card for Seat

    Sandisk SD card for Rolls Royce

    Sandisk SD card for.................................

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: Options for idiots


      Mind you, that -40°C operating temperature... useful for data loggers in freezers. Now if they can get down to -100°C, I can use them in our -80°C's at work.

      1. Otto is a bear.

        Re: Options for idiots

        And of course flexible pricing, or example:

        For Skoda, 64Gb @ £60

        For SEAT, 64Gb @ £70

        For VW, 64Gb @ £90

        For Audi, 64Gb @ £120

        For Bentley, Porsche, Lamborghini, Bugatti @ £500

        And you can bet you won't be able to interchange them.

        Seriously though, an SD card slot in the dash board is one thing, ad SD card in the EMS is quite another, and vehicles are probably quite noisy EMF environments.

        1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

          Re: Options for idiots

          Vehicles are horribly noisy electical environments - partly from just the power feed but also from EMF which interacts with anything vaguely antenna like such as wires and circuits...

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Options for idiots

        Yes, nobody uses cars in Finland/Norway, Alaska, Canada or Russia, right? Or on some mountains where temperature can drop a bit, right? And nobody uses cars in very hot climates, right? Remember the temperature in a closed car under the Sun can easily kill you.... I've been in Ekaterinbug in Winter, it was around -35°C ... and it's not only the storage temperature, it's being able to work and don't fall apart also when going back and forth from very different temperatures.

        I believed the Internet would have better distribuited knowledge, it looks it gave access to it to people whose whole world is between their armchair and the fridge...

  14. Luiz Abdala

    SD cards were tested to 1000G

    ... or something to that effect. They can take a shake and a wobble.

    You could ship these tiny little buggers to the moon and back and they would still work perfectly.

    (Didn't a bloke recover a SD card that was sunk underwater for 2 years, a couple weeks ago, recovering his pictures in the process?)

    You'd have to smash the car into bits a little bigger than the card itself before it stopped functioning.

    Except for temperature, these things are nigh-indestructible.

    1. Simon Harris Silver badge

      Re: SD cards were tested to 1000G

      "You could ship these tiny little buggers to the moon and back and they would still work perfectly."

      I don't think they make them radiation hardened as a matter of course.

      1. Luiz Abdala

        Re: SD cards were tested to 1000G

        Humans are not radiation hardened either, but still made to the moon and back.

        But no, no radiation hardening was considered in both projects.

        Neither any car, save for a few coats of paint that were meant to sustain and endure solar radiation.

        Your affirmation is correct, nonetheless.

  15. Britt Johnston

    more useful would be...

    a battery that you could slot in for an extra 10 hours running time.

    Oh, this is not a discussion about mobile phones?

    1. Simon Harris Silver badge

      Re: more useful would be...

      Well, you could think of your car as an extra large phone case with an extra battery.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: more useful would be...

        ...and a generator, and fuel for the generator, and some odd mechanical bits for taking it all with you.

  16. Frozit

    You miss the point.

    I live in Canada. Regularly, during the winter, the temperature in Southern Ontario reaches -30 C. Other places, it gets even colder. And my car stays outside all winter.

    Last year I accidentally left a UPS over winter in cold location. In the spring, it no longer worked.

    Then, if you consider the other extreme, how hot does the interior of a car get in a southern climate in the sunshine in the summer. Easily +50C or higher.

    Manufacturers use the temperature and other environmental ratings of the components to certify their overall rating. If they don't, they are liable for the repairs and other costs if those components fail.

    1. Simon Harris Silver badge

      Re: You miss the point.

      Sandisk say of their standard cards*

      "Temperature proof: Capable of withstanding operating temperatures from -13ºF (-25ºC) or 185ºF (85 ºC) for 100 cycles (equivalent to 28 hours)."

      So the new ones might just survive a Russian or Canadian winter a little better. Hot climate wise, there is no change.


  17. Fitz_

    Card sellers

    Sandisk seem to be taking cues from Hallmark. Cards for every occasion, and inventing new occasions for when business is slow.

  18. LaunchpadBS

    Because when I pay £25k for a car what I really want...

    is to be able to pay extra to whack in 64GB of expandable storage that meets industry standards for my mp3s and "home" movies...FFS!!! I feel like I need to deliver this facepalm in person

  19. alun phillips


    My car has managed quite nicely with a standard SD for its satnav.

  20. Kernel

    You're all wrong

    This is about creating limited life SD cards, which are only available from your dealership at a ludicrous price - and must be fitted by one of their technicians - without which the car will only operate in limp mode.

  21. IsJustabloke Silver badge

    I cannot believe...

    how worked about this some of you are :0

  22. Diogenes

    It really gets hot in acar

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