Mike Waters' blog: 4 February 2011 - Making the most of technology advances
04 February 2011
Mike Waters is head of market analysis at Arval
When it comes to new vehicle technology, there are a great number of developments to look forward to in the coming years, ranging from cars that manoeuvre themselves to Wi-Fi access and radar systems that warn of danger in the road.
I will look at some of these advances in a future blog, but in the here and now, we shouldn't forget that the current cars on the market are already packed with technological innovation. If you're thinking of purchasing a car in the next year, here are some of the things to look out for:
Safety is always a key reason for advances in technology and there are plenty of developments that keep us safe. In recent years, two of the most important have been anti-lock braking (ABS) and electronic stability control (ESC). ABS is standard in most new cars and stops the vehicle from skidding when the brakes are applied. ESC uses the brakes to keep a vehicle on the road when it starts to skid out of control and is thought to be one of the most important road safety developments since the seatbelt.
Airbags have been around for a while and in older models the airbag deploys when a front-end crash occurs. However, many of today's vehicles come equipped with more sensitive systems which sense the difference in the size and weight of the occupants and deploy the air bags accordingly from all over the vehicle.
When it comes to driver experience, programmable vehicle settings are now available which means that at the flick of a switch, you can use electronics to choose the type of ride you want ranging from sporty or luxurious. Drivers of the new Audi A8, for example can change the car's ride by raising and lowering road clearance.
Navigation systems are a big help to drivers and will become more sophisticated with the capability to connect to mobile phones; head up display (HUD) is also becoming more common and now exists as an I-phone application. There will also be more opportunity to use voice commands to operate the growing and multifarious functions in cars.
The environment remains an area of focus with a range of fully electric models close to market and hybrids becoming common. Despite these developments, petrol and diesel engines are being developed to deliver greater mpg performance and lower CO2 emissions. Many cars also incorporate an 'economy mode' feature, which switches off the non-essential systems of the car automatically - in particular, air conditioning.
So plenty to look out for, although its worth remembering that not all gadgets carry the same weight second hand so if you only intend to keep the car for a short time consider the cost of extras versus the value to second owners.
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