Car manufacturers have upped their game when it comes to incorporating technology into their vehicles. State-of-the-art GPS systems, 3G data connections and better fuel efficiency are just some of the ways improved and new technology is impacting today’s vehicles.
Vehicle makers have leveraged this technology to create stylish, high-tech creations that dramatically improve our overall driving experience. What’s better, access to this technology doesn’t necessarily cost drivers more money; as the industry creates better cars, safety features and fuel-efficient technologies are becoming the norm in today’s automobiles.
Hybrids Step It Up
Hybrids motors combine the benefits of an electric motor with a gas engine, making better use of both technologies and providing the fuel economy and performance sought by drivers. Today’s hybrids are more efficient than their predecessors – according to hybridcenter.org, they use less fuel, emission output has been reduced and they get more mpg.
Federal tax credits, standard amenities and other incentives are enticing buyers to consider going hybrid, whereas the limited performance, range and affordability of all-electric vehicles prevents them from taking off with drivers. Dealerships like Midway Nissan report increased interest in hybrid vehicles as the high cost of gas prompts drivers to consider switching from standard cars to alternative-powered vehicles.
Current features of hybrid technology include:
- Small diesel engines put out 60-70 mpg
- New stop-start systems enable motor to shut off when sitting in traffic
- Improved aerodynamics increase efficiency
- Low-rolling resistance tire technology boosts gas mileage
Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), which owners plug into traditional power outlets, are also piquing driver curiosity. These vehicles switch from electric power to gas if they run out of juice on the road, granting the driver time before it needs to be recharged. The performance of a PHEV is similar to that of a conventional car, and drivers can easily monitor their batteries and identify in which system the car is currently operating.
Automobile manufacturers are pairing their engineering teams with design experts to create cars that are just as efficient and safe as they are sleek and stylish. Drivers aren’t forced to sacrifice form for function; both elements are essential. Features include:
- Raised roof lines improve safety and eliminate typical blind spots
- Car bodies are more aerodynamic
- Cameras are located all around a car, improving driver and pedestrian safety
- Interiors are more sleek and comfortable
- Most cars are now equipped with LED lighting technology inside and out
- Today’s dashboards are tablets that enable instant access to the Internet and mobile devices
A Glance Beneath the Hood
Monster V8 engines may soon be a thing of the past, as drivers demand better fuel efficiency and less weight beneath their hoods. Many companies are going back to a four-cylinder engine and increasing power by using lighter parts and adding a turbo. Other improvements include:
- Adjustments in the powertrain that make engines smaller and lighter
- Bearings built out of lighter alloys
- Pistons, cylinders and rings coated with lighter materials
- Electric power is being used to run as many engine components as possible; these can be controlled by a computer system that reads and adjusts the specific performance of that part, increasing the overall performance of the vehicle
Advancements in Safety Technology
Significant improvements have been made to the car’s handling, braking and accident prevention systems:
- Cameras and sensors alert the driver to the threat of a collision threat by vibrating the seat
- Lane departure alerts warn drivers of obstructions in the lane they are entering
- Side-mounted cameras, activated by the car’s blinker, enable the driver to see areas that had previously existed in blind spots
- Warning systems identify a change in weather conditions and the driver’s driving habits
- Brake assist technology applies the brakes if the driver has not responded to the threat of a collision
Accessing Information on the Go
Other emerging innovations impact how drivers and passengers access information and entertain themselves on the road. The surge of mobile devices, streaming apps and satellite radio has spurred drivers to demand mobile hot-spots, USB ports and up-to-date systems that can download new software and add variety to their driving experiences.
Today’s drivers are demanding smarter machines, better gas mileage and increased safety features. No one could have guessed 30 years ago what the vehicles of today would be capable of – which makes guessing about the vehicle of tomorrow all the more fun.