Automotive technology continues to impact car engineering, bringing forth technologies which can help squeeze more power and torque out of an engine while improving fuel economy.
The internal combustion engine isn’t about to disappear, but it certainly doesn’t behave like past generation carburetor sparked models. Today’s engines feature fuel injection, turbochargers, multiple valves per cylinder and are often made from aluminum. Powerful and lightweight, you get more oomph even when the motor weighs significantly less.
But engines, transmissions and other under the hood components aren’t the only stuff being changed with today’s cars. New technologies are rolling out that impact safety, passenger comfort and even internet connectivity while others are being worked on and refined for many years down the line.
Let’s take a look at some important auto trends on the horizon. Stuff we’d love to see in our upcoming vehicles:
Going Online – Thanks to Bluetooth connectivity, lots of people can access the Internet from their cars. But offering full access from the driver’s panel hasn’t been something automakers are concerned with, given the distractibility of these screens. Mercedes has found a solution: the German automaker has developed a split screen, one where the front passenger sees the Internet while the driver only sees the usual cabin commands. Rear passengers in many cars already enjoy this sort of technology.
Staying Safe – Automakers long resisted adding safety devices to their cars, but today’s consumers want and are willing to pay for them. Airbags, side curtain airbags, knee airbags and traction and stability control are commonplace today. Today’s collision avoidance systems are about to become even more sophisticated, with some systems being designed to stop your car or move out of the way of another vehicle all by itself. Ford, Volvo, Mercedes and Toyota are among the automakers pioneering this technology.
Riding Fine – Let’s face it: most cars could stand an improvement when it comes to seating. Certainly, many premium, luxury and sport models offer superior ride comfort, but most other models could use a makeover. Besides lumbar support, heated and cooled seats and bolstering, seating that rotates the pelvis forward can help ease lower back pain. That technology has already found its way into Lotus production cars and will gain acceptance in coming years. Less pressure on the spine can do wonders!
Driverless Riding – The day when we can get in our cars and fall asleep without worrying about a crash is not too far off. In fact, GPS technology able to move cars down the road without a driver behind the wheel was successfully tested in the 1990s. But what works on a track needs to scaled for the street, something that will likely roll out in congested cities long before it goes to the interstate. And, unlike technology exclusive to a particular automaker, this option will likely be government implemented and controlled.
Disposable Cars – Are you tired of seeing junkyards filled with thousands of cars and parts? Well, cars made from recycled or easily recyclable parts are now possible. In addition, organic materials can be used in the roofliner, trunk floor, carpeting and elsewhere. Ford is using recycled plastics in their Fusion Hybrid seats while other manufacturers are exploring the use of reusable materials in the fascia, trim, lining and elsewhere.
Cost has always been a factor when it comes to introducing new technologies. Many of these features have already been lab tested, but getting costs down to a level everyone can afford takes time. But once a product is ready to go and catches on, the price drops. A lower price means that futuristic technology will have suddenly gone mainstream.