30 Years of Automotive Technology

30 Years of Automotive Technology


[Music] many people keep their cars and trucks for over a dozen years considering all the new technology and safety features shoppers might feel like Rip Van Winkle these days cars have seen monumental changes in the last 30 years I’m looking back at three decades of automotive technology using my own cars starting with this 1990 Mazda mx-5 miata that I bought knew not exactly bristling the tech this is about it reminisce with me CD players were scarce in automobiles there’s one airbag engines were started with physical keys and few had built-in anti-theft chips cars were fairly easy to steal in the early 90s anti-lock brakes electronic traction and stability control were rare this car has none of that it’s still a hoot to drive but large bumps caused body quiver modern mx-5s eliminate that by using ultra high-strength steel from 1997 to present day the bulk family has owned a total of four Volvo station wagons unfortunately emphasis on the word total the first three protected my wife and children very well no fault of their own it’s in this time period from the mid 90s to this 2008 model that cars and not necessarily just Volvo’s did a lot more to protect passengers six airbags became common side impact units being especially valuable advanced seat designs help reduce whiplash anti-lock brakes plus traction and stability control systems became expected then mandatory by 2013 in 2008 blind spot warning was cutting edge stuff new user interfaces allowed features to be tailored GPS navigation systems were still uncommon fussy and expensive automatic braking began appearing around 2008 wish this car habit since it’s the one my kids drive bless my wife’s frugal heart she chose a Kia Soul for its practicality and value of the milestone here features migrating to budget cars which bought it in 2012 for if I remember correctly $23,000 the appeal was a lot of trickle down from luxury cars starting with keyless ignition no pun intended also pretty good user interface for the day it even came with an a/v system that was rare and budget priced vehicles the back-up camera will soon be mandatory nearly all cars now have USB ports and bluetooth for phones the trend is towards thin sidewalls for less flex while cornering and unfortunately a rougher ride high-intensity lighting used to be reserved for premium brands I’m a big design guy so I couldn’t pass up this 2014 Cadillac ELR it’s big story is the powertrain it’s a plug-in hybrid it can be fully electric or run on gasoline so there’s no range anxiety fully charged this one travels about 35 miles on battery alone once it’s spent the gas-powered generator seamlessly produces more electricity for hundreds of miles of travel in 15 months of ownership it’s been to the gas station once it also has radar assisted cruise control that matches speed with traffic ahead crisp bright LED headlights should last the life of the car this user interface is a little bit more sophisticated it’s a touchscreen but it also has proximity sensing so when I reach towards it I get extra controls below it is a touch sensitive surface with tactile feedback it can be fussy or raising a point some advances that can be annoying unlike this classic PRNDL shifter some modern electronic transmission selectors can be vague and many cars need powerful user interfaces to tame all the features now let’s move to a car I don’t own for the latest tech the iDrive interface in the 2017 BMW 530i now gets touch sensitivity in addition to the classic knob operation it accepts handwriting too here’s another thing the surround view camera system is neat all by itself but if you do this you can actually see all the way around the car it can park itself with no one in the driver’s seat the 5:30 also has a semi autonomous driving feature that’s appearing on high-end cars you can keep your hands off the wheel for up to 50 seconds that’s five zero no doubt this tech will continue to improve and migrate down to lower priced cars all these modern features are great and they may help save your life but don’t forget find a car you love you just might keep it for three decades


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