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Automobile Technology of Today & Tomorrow

In Fun Items

By system on Thursday, 08 March 2012

Does anyone remember when they joined the modern world and first got a CD player in the car instead of a cassette deck – now you would be lucky to see a CD player in a new car, it has to be an iPod connector or an aux jack input.

In fact if you go further back there was a time without even a cassette deck, or in fact seat belts – the world is changing fast and so is the technology in cars.

Do you remember some of these features that came and went:

Electric Aerial – an optional extra on luxury cars that worked when the radio was turned on, and then to our amazement went down when the car was turned off, great until it got stuck or the motor burnt out!

Choke – first thing in the morning when you had to pull out the choke and wait for the engine to come up to temperature, or worse still pulling up at the first set if traffic lights with your engine revving at 3,000rpm because you have forgotten to put the choke back in in?

Pop-up headlights – again a flashy feature of the 80’s, turn on the lights and these ‘eyes’ come up out of your bonnet. Terrible for aerodynamics and usually got stuck either up or down which was no use at all.

Cigarette lighters – they used to be standard on most cars along with ashtrays, but both seem to have disappeared or become an optional extra now. The lighters have been replaced with 12v outlets to charge phones or power GPS devices, and the ashtrays have turned into coin or cup holders – a lot more politically correct and healthier though.

Manual windows – when was the last time you reached down and wound your window up/down. There are not many cars or trucks left that do not have the ‘luxury’ of being able to power up and down windows, and it makes dealing with the kids playing with the windows in the back easier to, now they just need to install sound-proofing!

So where are we heading next with the devices of tomorrow:

Handbrakes – the big manually adjusted ratchets have already disappeared on a number of brands like Audi, Mercedes and Lexus with many more following behind. It saves room and makes the console more ergonomic, you just have to find where the little button is hidden – however there are some sports and luxury car manufacturers that already have an ‘automatic handbrake’ which takes it off as you start accelerating and deploys it when you stop – clever?

Spare Tyres – the full sized spare wheel has been replaced in a lot of cars with the space-saver, and on some brands now with the run-flat tyres eliminating a spare at all. Will this be the future with technology progressing and making run-flats better and less expensive – maybe the car of tomorrow will only ever have 4 wheels?

Keys and Door Locks – it used to be a skinny steel skeleton that you put in the driver’s door and with a clunk a button popped up to open just that door. Those days are gone with most of us having an electronic key that unlocks the whole car from 10m away and some even having smart-cards that know you are in the car and allow you to start and operate it. Will we have external locks and ignitions in the steering column in a couple of years, or perhaps a complete voice recognition system so the car knows you and will open the doors or start the engine on command?

Rear-view mirrors – it has been there for many years and used for a number of uses; for ladies to apply makeup and for guys to check out ladies, and oh yes to see traffic behind you. But with the advent of screens and reversing cameras that show wide angle views will the humble rear-view survive or will it be another item that the ‘kids of today’ do not even remember?

Manual Gearbox – this is the one that hurts the most with true driving enthusiasts cringing. ‘Automatic’ gearboxes have been around for a number of years but there are now more cars without a manual gearbox than ever. Again technology has evolved well from the days of the chunky 3 speed Auto with DSG and double clutch boxes now being able to change gear in 7 milliseconds, and most offering better fuel economy than a manual box. But will it kill off that real driving involvement you can have with the car – time will tell…