Vehicle manufacturers are expected to continue a consumer-driven trend over the next decade for decidedly new and better technology applications in the cabins of their new models to seamlessly integrate personal electronic devices like iPods, computers and cellular phones to satisfy the public’s techno-hungry appetite. Increasingly, high-tech features are finding their way into vehicles at all price p9oints instead of simply the higher end luxury models.
Expect voice-activated connectivity systems to become the norm in many vehicles. These systems will connect items such as Bluetooth cellular phones and USB drives with in-vehicle entertainment systems, while also providing turn-by-turn navigation, emergency assistance and real-time traffic conditions. Some systems may even include large color display screens and connect to vehicle back-up cameras.
Although back-up safety cameras will be mandatory in all vehicles beginning with the 2018 model year, more than half of currently manufactured vehicles already have them as standard or upgraded safety equipment. Also increasing in popularity are lane departure warning and prevention systems that will alert drivers when they start drifting into neighboring lanes. These systems use a tiny rear-view camera to determine when drivers may start to drift into adjacent lanes.
For overall communications, LTE, or long term evolution, is the next big communications trend to be incorporated into vehicles. Reported to be 10 times faster than 3G, LTE is expected to be in at least one Audi vehicle and several 2015 Chevrolet models that use the AT&T network. Among the advantages users to download apps and updates from manufacturers without making trips to the dealer. LTE should give users the speed they need to download graphics and stream video and other intensive applications.
Along with quicker Internet access, better infotainment controls are also on the horizon for drivers and passengers. Manufacturers are now designing systems that are more intuitive to use as well as safer when used on the road. Mazda’s Connect system, for example, is designed to reduce driver distraction with a simple user interface, while its related “Heads Up Cockpit” divides information into two separate areas, giving drivers information they need while passengers can take a look at available apps on a separate screen. Connect gives passengers the choice of touchscreen or a control knob for access.
Fuel cell vehicles should also become more economically feasible within a few years. Toyota’s Fuel Cell Vehicle (FCV) is still in the concept stage, but the idea of powering a vehicle than can run on hydrogen is one that is gaining credibility within the car industry.