Thanks to the rapid implementation of technology in the automotive industry, consumers have more and better options when it comes to deciding whether or not to buy a new car, and even to be amazed at the level of sophistication that the world of cars has reached.
In this blog we will include the highlights that are already available for cars and their implications for what we will see in the near future.
Features that once seemed extravagant, such as the ability to drive independently or using your mobile phone to interact with your vehicle, are now beginning to become an essential part of the car ownership experience.
Regardless of manufacturer, model or price point, we expect many of these advanced features to spread rapidly throughout the automotive industry in the near future.
This year’s advancements in safety and convenience should be welcome news for new car buyers especially if they haven’t changed in the last five years.
However, with so many attractive new features, consumers must study their options carefully in order to fully appreciate their uses and above all decide whether it makes sense to decide to buy, based on these factors.
A growing number of new models have the implementation of an application that allows you to open the locks, honk the horn, turn on the lights and even start the car remotely, without being near the vehicle.
This functionality promises great comfort and some freedom: imagine lending your vehicle to a friend without having to worry about leaving the keys, or leaving your keys at home when you take a long vacation and start your car in the airport garage with your phone.
Among the brands that offer these applications (such as Ford and Chevrolet) this functionality is usually included free of charge or possibly with a small subscription fee.
After several years of research and development, self-driving technology is having a real impact on the industry.
Tesla has attracted a lot of attention in this area, but other manufacturers such as Audi, Mercedes-Benz, Cadillac, Nissan and Volvo have similar systems. It is expected that in the coming years, more brands will be added to the list with technologies of this type.
And even for enthusiasts who enjoy being in control of the car at all times, it is obvious to recognize that autonomous technology has the potential to transform the less pleasant aspects of the driving experience, such as in a city with heavy traffic or on a busy road when everyone is on vacation.
Evidence that the adoption of driver assistance technologies is increasing can be seen in the wide variety of active driving systems coming onto the market, particularly those that can be manoeuvred to avoid an accident.
Volvo and Lexus have recently introduced active driving systems that not only keep the vehicle in its lane, but also maneuver to avoid potential collisions.
Automatic braking systems are already impressive technological feats, but driving systems that avoid collisions go further by actually taking control of the steering wheel to reduce the risk of an accident.
Cameras and rear-view mirrors
The benefits of reverse assist cameras are obvious and no longer new, but now rear view mirrors and rear view cameras are used for more functions than we expect.
The latest Honda Odyssey minivan, for example, has a feature called “CabinWatch” that uses a camera to view second and third row passengers.
This feature will be very useful in reducing distractions when driving, for example, by not having to look back to control unruly children, or by eliminating blind spots, as in several Cadillac models, which turns the rearview mirror into a 180-degree monitor to get a full view of what’s going on behind, even when driving.
The assistance camera system with 360° vision is just one of many technological advances that make everyday operation easier.
This safety technology included as part of the standard equipment in the Volvo 90 – Volvo S90 series and the Volvo V90 wagon, is part of the wide range of systems such as the Pilot Assist, which makes it practically possible to experience autonomous driving in certain circumstances, such as in road traffic.
In this case, the 360° parking assistance camera system is projected onto the 12.3-inch screen with a “bird’s eye view” image thanks to the graphics integrated into the software.
For years, automobile manufacturers have been replacing conventional instrument panels – speedometer and tachometer – with displays, but only since last year has this feature begun to reach its true potential.
Perhaps the most advanced system is Audi’s Virtual Cockpit, which is basically like a second infotainment screen, only this time it appears just below your driver’s line of sight, meaning you barely have to take your eyes off the road.
These displays with grouped indicators will be more useful and more configurable, so it offers more than typical readings like speed, mileage and fuel level.
Better Bluetooth capability
Connecting via Bluetooth in the car has become easier and easier over the years, and car manufacturers will reach new levels by 2018.
For example, the newest Honda Accord includes a feature that allows the driver to tap their phone (Android) a dot on the instrument panel and connect instantly.
With this new feature, it’s easier than ever to put your phone aside and concentrate on driving.
On-board wireless charging
A growing number of vehicles are adding wireless charging bases to their center or side consoles.
This means that the driver only has to get into the car, put his phone in the wireless charging cradle and let it charge while driving, without the need to connect cables.
These devices are often inexpensive, and are often included in the top-of-the-range versions of certain models – especially from the Toyota brand – but as time goes by, this technology will become available to more and more cars, regardless of their level of equipment.
Eventually, as the supply and demand for electric cars advances, this technology could be applied to charge the car’s batteries.