The automotive industry is ever evolving and attempting to discover the next big thing. If an automotive manufacturer fails to constantly innovate the current model, the manufacturer will not keep up with the competitors and will not be successful.
Currently, three of the main automotive trends are self parallel parking cars, more efficient and usable alternative energy cars and voice activation features in cars.
Self Parallel Parking Cars
There are 9 models of these self parking cars available from Lexus, Toyota, Ford, Lincoln and Mercury. In 2006, this feature appeared on a concept car. The Toyota Prius even offers the option of back in parking for parking lots. The basic way that the parking assistance feature works is that cameras detect an open spot and then are used to determine distance and speed. In the lower end of the cost spectrum, the cheaper versions still require the user to use the gas and the break. At the higher end, the driver can almost just sit back and relax. The down side to allowing the computer to select and park the car is that some times the car will over look potential parking spaces because the space does not look ideal.
Alternative Energy Cars
The early history of hybrid cars follows a very similar, if much less successful, path to that of regular cars. In the 1800’s cars were manufactured with steam or electric powered engines. Around the time of the Great Depression, alternative fuel based vehicles were largely forgotten. The hybrid car only came back into existence because of the United States Congress’s efforts to promote research starting in the late 1960’s. It wasn’t until 1999 and 2000 that the first mass produced two and four door hybrid cars were available. The focus of the research has currently shifted to focus on fully electric cars. Currently, hybrid and electric car manufactures are trying to extend the distance that the cars can travel between fueling. Volvo has been testing a battery system that would enable the car to travel up to 150 miles without recharging.
Ford has a voice activation system called SNYC in its cars. Now Ford has developed a voice text message system to be included in the SYNC system. The text message would be read to the diver and then the driver can dictate a reply without touching the phone. SYNC already allows the driver to change radio stations, change the heater or air conditioning level and other things that often distract drivers. Chevrolet is currently developing a way for users to update their facebook status via OnStar. OnStar is Chevrolet’s voice activation system.
The automotive industry has come a long way from the days of Henry Ford’s Model T. Although Henry Ford would have known about alternative fuel source cars as they existed at the time, he could have never imagined self parking or voice activated cars.
Lee Hawkins “The Skinny of Self-Parking”, Wall Street Journal.
“History of Hybrid Vehicles”, HybridCars.
“Volvo Starts Development of Fuel Cells to Improve Operating Range”, CarPages.com.
“Ford SYNC Features”, Ford.com.
Laura Burstein “Voice-Activated Fords to Debut in Europe”, CNet News.
“GM Testing Facebook Status Update Voice Command”, The Huffington Post.