2) Going hybrid: Toyota made waves in 2011 by rolling out the full-hybrid compact station wagon Prius v, while also unveiling the Prius PHV, a plug-in hybrid vehicle that will hit the road in 2012. In 2011, hybrids were also a theme for Ford, which said it is planning two: the C-Max hybrid and the C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid. BMW said it would also join the hybrid parade when it announced the i8, a luxury hybrid slated for 2014 that will use an electric drive at the front wheels and an internal combustion engine at the rear. A twist on the hybrid theme also came from Buick this year, as it announced its so-called "mild hybrid" eAssist technology, which offers start-stop capabilities and regenerative braking, but not hybrid propulsion.
The Volt's interior gives the feel of a fighter jet cockpit. Source: GM
3) Connectivity: The demand for connectivity in the vehicle is growing, and automakers, in a bid to outsell one another, are ratcheting up their efforts in this area. In September, a group called the Car Connectivity Consortium (CCC) unveiled an open standard aimed at making it easier for smartphones to "talk" to a vehicle's center console. Known as Mirror Link, the new open standard enables owners to bring their phones into their vehicles and connect, not only to the center console display, but to the steering wheel knobs and buttons that control various functions. Connectivity was also the theme for Cadillac's CUE, which allows users to operate entertainment and information controls with taps, flicks, swipes, and pinches, à la the Apple iPad. Taking it one step further, Chevrolet also announced the availability of Internet routers in its Silverado trucks.
Jack: Since automakers work years in advance of introduction, they will know ahead of time if a CAFE of 54.5 mpg is impossible. Automakers are now trying to work with government agencies to review the situation in 2018.
Charles, What really happens if they "don't make it"? The government might try legislating technology, but if the industry as a whole doesn't have a cost effective solution, what can they do? Ban all new autos?
The automakers will undoubtedly look for a way to back down on CAFE. Surprisingly, though, 2025 isn't that far off. Since they work about five years ahead, and since they have a very, very long way to go to get to 54.5 mpg, they've got to keep coming up with new technologies. If they wait too long, they'll never be able to make it.
Alex, funny you should mention this directive. It seems everyone I'm talking to lately, whether composite makers, adhesive makers, coatings suppliers or even machine vision hardware vendors, are mentioning it as the driving force behind the trends impacting their products. I think Chuck is right to put it at the top, and my impression is that the automakers really mean it. Would they rather make classic Mustangs with a great big V-8 engine weighed down with lots of steel? Maybe. And heck, I'd rather drive one. But that's not where we live anymore. So I think they've woken up and smelled the coffee.
I'm wondering how much discussion we'll see in 2012 of the top issue Chuck mentions, which is the government mandate for 54.5 miles per gallon for cars and light trucks by 2025. At this point, to me this seems like it's a can that's being kicked down the road by the automakers. One can infer that their strategy is to use their EVs to raise the fleet CAFE, and then if they don't make it, they'll go for an easement from Congress under the banner of "we tried really hard." Not sure that that was the intent, though, of the program. It's to get ICE cars to raise their MPG, too.
I think you are absolutely correct the population is growing faster and maximum population are having there own private vehicle to travel on top of this , this new concept is really going to work well.
The Zipcar model is a logical one because many people in heavily populated urban areas don't want to own cars. They may need to travel only a couple of miles. Then they want to unburden themselves of the car.
TJ, I did the same zoom on that map and noticed the same thing. That's why I'm grateful to live in this greater Silicon Valley area.
But you're right, the practicality issue for actual usage scenarios has not been solved. Either that, or there need to be different types of models. OTOH, I think the vision is that there will be public charging stations everywhere. If every business' parking lot had one, your customer visit problem would disappear. Locally, many of the charging stations in the San Jose urban area have been built with federal funding. I wonder how available that is elsewhere.
I agree with the eventual trickle down. Air conditioning, power steering, power windows, cruise control, tilt steering column... these were items found on top end "luxery" models. As "economy of scale" and more and more units were produced, and these features became perceived by the customer as not an"extra" but as "standard equipment" so too will many of the latest technologies' costs drop, availability increase, and acceptance as standard equiipment be built in to even low end models....
Five years ago, optical heart rate tracking seemed like an obvious successor to the popular chest straps used by many fitness buffs, but the technology has faced myriad engineering challenges on its way to market acceptance.
Design engineers need to prepare for a future in which their electronic products will use not just one or two, but possibly many user interfaces that involve touch, vision, gestures, and even eye movements.
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