New and exciting things are coming faster and faster for the cars of today. This is one of the reasons why people who like new technology in cars often lease them. Every few years you can the latest, greatest tech gadgets as well as the newest safety features. I am seeing some trends in vehicle electronics I thought you might be interested in. Of course, a lot of people are talking about the self-driving cars, but those are awhile away.
4G LTE WiFi
We had a caller to the Car Pro Radio Show last Saturday who was concerned about the 4G LTE WiFi hotspots that came with his new General Motors product. I heard from a lot of people who told me these systems are as safe as using a router in your home, as long as they are password protected. The ability to let up to five users get online at once is a new, popular trend we are seeing in many makes of cars for 2015. They are not expensive cars either, many cars under $20,000 offer this. It’s a great way to keep the kids busy and many service companies use the technology to email estimates from their truck or van before they ever leave the customer’s home.
Apple CarPlay, Android Auto
We are seeing new ways for people to connect their cell phone to their cars as well. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are new systems that Apple and Google use to integrate the smartphone into the vehicle. Both systems require the driver to connect a phone via USB. The car handles the pairing process easily and seamlessly, and once you hit a button on the screen, it will transition into the Apple or Android interface. Both systems focus on the favorite features that a person wants from their smartphone when driving: navigation data, text messaging, music and of course, using the phone to make and answer calls. Both systems take a different approach with how they display the data, but the goal is the same: reducing driver distraction by getting the driver to put down the phone and rely instead on voice commands and the presentation of data on the vehicle’s screen.
In addition, some features that were new to us not too long ago are getting better. Cameras in vehicles have improved a lot in the past couple of years, and again, not on expensive cars. Now there are front view cameras in addition to rearview cameras, and many give you cross-traffic cameras to aid you when backing out of a place blindly.
Self-parking cars are now common if you find parallel parking a challenge. Drive slowly down the street and the car will tell you if the spot is large enough to park, then take your hand off the steering wheel and watch it go! I love all the new adaptive cruise control systems I am seeing. When set, it keeps your car the exact same distance from the car in front of you, and many of these will stop the car completely if you aren’t paying attention.
With all the changes and new stuff I am seeing in cars, it makes you wonder what is next. The 2015 F-150 I reviewed recently had many of these items, plus heated and cooled seats that massage you, and a heated rear seat. I am seeing more and more power outlets that will allow you to plug in 110-Volt items, like a hair dryer.
I can’t wait to see what is next!