HOME  |  NEWS  |  BLOGS  |  MESSAGES  |  FEATURES  |  VIDEOS  |  WEBINARS  |  INDUSTRIES  |  FOCUS ON FUNDAMENTALS
  |  REGISTER  |  LOGIN  |  HELP
Blogs
Electronics News

Top 5 Automotive Trends of 2011

NO RATINGS
Page 1 / 3 Next >
View Comments: Threaded|Newest First|Oldest First
Jennifer Campbell
User Rank
Gold
Is it worth it? Is it safe?
Jennifer Campbell   12/6/2011 9:58:36 AM
NO RATINGS
Although intrigued by all the technology going into automobiles these days, I can't help but wonder how much all of these automobiles actually cost to build and how much they sell for. Are they/will they be in mass production when only, I anticipate, a small portion of the population will be able to buy them?

Also, on the infotainment side: is this feasible when more and more states are cracking down on unsafe drivers ie: the ban on texting while driving in Massachusetts? I wouldn't be surprised if more and more legislation was handed down based on the features being added to autos.

Chuck, do you think I am way off base here?

 

Charles Murray
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Is it worth it? Is it safe?
Charles Murray   12/6/2011 11:03:43 AM
NO RATINGS
Jenn: No, you're not off base. Let's look at the distraction issue first. More legislation will undoubtedly have to be handed down. The problem is, as much as the public complains about driver distraction, many people want to bring their iPods and phones into their vehicles. Automakers know this, and they reasonably conclude that they need to market these features in order to compete. Standards will help simplify the technology and reduce the distraction, but they won't eliminate it. To eliminate it, we all have to be ready to surrender our phones and iPods. 

Regarding cost: Yes, the proliferation of electronics is affecting cost. But most of the infotainment features start out at the high end, in the luxury cars, where the extra cost can be more easily absorbed. They usually don't trickle down to the mid-level and low-end vehicles until the economies of scale allow for it to result in a modest cost difference. Even then, many of these features will reach low-end vehicles as an option, when they do arrive. Mandated safety features (airbags, electronic stability control, etc) are another matter -- they are more likely to add cost to low-end vehicles, because the buyer can't opt out.

GMStoffa
User Rank
Silver
Re: Is it worth it? Is it safe?
GMStoffa   12/9/2011 11:56:59 AM
NO RATINGS
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....

Alexander Wolfe
User Rank
Blogger
Old school versus new
Alexander Wolfe   12/6/2011 2:45:57 PM
NO RATINGS
One trend I can't get my brain around -- if indeed it's a real trend -- is what seems to be the bifurcation between the traditional automakers and the thousand blooming flowers of tiny car startups. (For the latter, this is both in terms of company size as well as the size of the cars they make.) So on the one hand, we have GM getting deeper into both telematics and customer-driven design, as Chuck has expertly written about. Yet we also have a grass-roots sector springing up in the EV space, as if it were 1910 all over again. So will these two arenas remain separate, cross-pollinate; will one take over the other or will the little guys one day disappear as quietly as they arrived?

Charles Murray
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Old school versus new
Charles Murray   12/6/2011 9:57:34 PM
NO RATINGS
The answer to your question, Alex, is that these companies will cross-pollinate. Some old line auto companies were initially dismissive of Tesla, for example, but when the Roadster did 244 miles on a charge, even Bob Lutz of GM acknowledged that all automakers could learn from them. Now, Tesla is teaming with Toyota on an electric vehicle.  

Ann R. Thryft
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Old school versus new
Ann R. Thryft   12/7/2011 1:08:18 PM
NO RATINGS

I'd guess that the answer to Alex' question will idepend on how well big auto makers do in the EV space and whether they then decide to throw dollars at the little startups, i.e., buy them out and take them over to acquire their technology, or alternatively, R&D it themselves.

 


Watashi
User Rank
Platinum
How much change should we really expect
Watashi   12/7/2011 12:23:14 PM
NO RATINGS

CAFE has been forced so high that any automaker who wants to compete in the US will have to offer an EV just to bring the fleet average up.  Car manufacturers will have to invest in creating EVs and hybrids that appeal to an unfriendly market (mainly because of the performance vs. cost issue).  But, will any technology be developed that can also benefit their core vehicle lines?

I would love for my vehicles to get 50mpg and give me the same performance, convenience, and function that I currently enjoy, at the same price point.  Unfortunately, the technology being developed to comply with the mandate appears to have limited use in the conventional market.  Worse yet, with the push to electrify taking up the R&D funds, is there enough being done to improve current ICE designs?

Automaker "agreement" to the new CAFE standards is an interesting spin.  It would be more accurate to say that Congress agreed for them.


 

Charles Murray
User Rank
Blogger
Re: How much change should we really expect
Charles Murray   12/7/2011 3:43:45 PM
NO RATINGS
To Watashi: It would be nice if those R&D dollars could be invested in long-term battery technologies that could actually make EVs competitive. Right now, the energy density is too low and the cost is still too high. The problem is, we're in a big hurry when it comes to EVs. The unfortunate part of this is that in seven years, many of the lithium-ion start-ups -- some based on government money -- will be going out of business when the lithium-ion battery glut hits.

TJ McDermott
User Rank
Blogger
Electification and the recurring cost
TJ McDermott   12/7/2011 3:49:28 PM
NO RATINGS
I've not yet seen a decent analysis of the cost of the electricity when charging your vehicle at home.  There's lots and lots of handwaving around the MPG of the things, but much less about the actual day-to-day operating cost.  10 hour charging is necessary when using a 120vac house outlet.  What does that translate to?  Quick research says the answer is complicated, depending on when you decide to charge.  Still, how about an average number from the manufacturers?

The electrical grid isn't smart now, taking too long to get smart, and yet more and more cars are expected to plug in.  Does the electrical grid have enough capacity to deal with this increasing load?

Car companies rolled out their electric cars, and said "not my problem" to the source of that electricity.  The companies that attack both problems at once will become wildly successful.

Alexander Wolfe
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Electification and the recurring cost
Alexander Wolfe   12/8/2011 10:47:07 AM
NO RATINGS
In 2012, I'm guessing we're going to have to add "battery cooling systems and technologies" to our list, in light of the recent to-do over the Chevy Volt Lithium-ion battery fires following crashes. And TJ makes a good point, so there's also work to be done on the economics of charging, or, more correctly, the infrastructure of charging. Those government-funded tests to set up charging stations in several cities throughout the U.S. need a boost if consumer demand for electrics is ever going to take off. New York, where I live, is waayyy behind the curve here. What are you supposed to do, throw an extension cord out your window? (That would be a very Seinfeldian solution...)

Charles Murray
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Electification and the recurring cost
Charles Murray   12/8/2011 8:34:03 PM
NO RATINGS
The big problem with charging in urban areas is the very point you've made here, Alex. A lot of urban dwellers don't have garages where they can recharge their cars. So, as you point out, what can they do? Run an extension cord out the window? The problem with this is that urban dwellers are the likely candidates to buy and use battery EVs. Many of them have short commutes. Nonetheless, they do need to charge their cars, so where do they do that? The likely solution is charging stations (almost like parking meters) lining the streets.   

Alexander Wolfe
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Electification and the recurring cost
Alexander Wolfe   12/9/2011 11:27:11 AM
NO RATINGS
I actually think the solution for a city like New York is for a Zipcar-like operation to introduce short-term rentable electrics for the urban (i.e., Manhattan) market. That company would then handle the recharging at a bunch of centralized locations. (And also supply the tow trucks to pick up out of juice cars.) Not a bad idea, right?

Charles Murray
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Electification and the recurring cost
Charles Murray   12/9/2011 7:05:08 PM
NO RATINGS
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.

hendrychalles
User Rank
Iron
Re: Electification and the recurring cost
hendrychalles   12/12/2011 5:37:34 AM
NO RATINGS
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.

 

delivery jobs

Ann R. Thryft
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Electification and the recurring cost
Ann R. Thryft   12/16/2011 11:24:36 AM
NO RATINGS

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.


Ann R. Thryft
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Electification and the recurring cost
Ann R. Thryft   12/8/2011 3:49:39 PM
NO RATINGS

Wow, I should remember to be grateful for where I live. EV charging stations have been a fact of life here in Silicon Valley (actually I'm outside the fringe) for some time now, although there still aren't enough of them. According to this map

http://www.altfuelprices.com/stations/ELEC/California/San-Jose/

there are 10 in the greater San Jose area and 10 within 50 miles of San Jose.

Here's a charger site map where you can look up locations by zip code or address:

http://www.evchargermaps.com/


TJ McDermott
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Electification and the recurring cost
TJ McDermott   12/8/2011 4:14:37 PM
NO RATINGS
The EVChargerMaps.com map looks great for your area, but doesn't seem to work for the greater Seattle area.  Either that, or there's not a single charging station anywhere along the I-5 Corridor in the Evergreen State.

I hate making excuses why I don't do something.  But darn it, an EV would not be feasible for my work commute and work requirements.  I can be sent to a customer at any time during the work day, up to two hours away.  Drive to work is 19 miles.  Even if I charged at work, I would have to charge at a customer site in order to get home.  That's a pretty tacky image, asking a customer where I can plug my car in.

The charge time for 120vac is 10 hours.  I don't really want to wait for the car to "fill up" at that charge rate in order to go home.

EVs will be a gimmick until this problem is solved.  They will have to have better range, faster charging, or the ability to swap batteries on the road in a matter of 90 seconds in order for them to be fully acceptable.

TJ McDermott
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Electification and the recurring cost
TJ McDermott   12/8/2011 4:47:43 PM
NO RATINGS
If you zoom out to see the entire country, there are only three charging stations outside of California as published by the evchargermaps web site.

Ann R. Thryft
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Electification and the recurring cost
Ann R. Thryft   12/9/2011 12:12:27 PM
NO RATINGS

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.


Alexander Wolfe
User Rank
Blogger
CAFE
Alexander Wolfe   12/13/2011 8:03:09 AM
NO RATINGS
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.

Charles Murray
User Rank
Blogger
Re: CAFE
Charles Murray   12/16/2011 5:54:44 PM
NO RATINGS
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.

Jack Rupert, PE
User Rank
Platinum
Re: CAFE
Jack Rupert, PE   12/20/2011 3:08:34 PM
NO RATINGS
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? 

Charles Murray
User Rank
Blogger
Re: CAFE
Charles Murray   1/9/2012 10:55:09 PM
NO RATINGS
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 Murray
User Rank
Blogger
Re: CAFE
Charles Murray   1/11/2012 10:49:40 PM
NO RATINGS
Regarding the "easement," Alex: Automakers are now pushing to get their progress reviewed in 2018. I think someone's thinking easement there.

Partner Zone
More Blogs from Electronics News
The question of whether engineers could have foreseen the shortcut maintenance procedures that led to the crash of American Airlines Flight 191 in 1979 will probably linger for as long as there is an engineering profession.
More than 35 years later, the post-mortem on one of the country’s worst engineering disasters appears to be simple. A contractor asked for a change in an original design. The change was approved by engineers, later resulting in a mammoth structural collapse that killed 114 people and injured 216 more.
If you’re an embedded systems engineer whose analog capabilities are getting a little bit rusty, then you’ll want to take note of an upcoming Design News Continuing Education Center class, “Analog Design for the Digital World,” running Monday, Nov. 17 through Friday, Nov. 21.
It’s time once again for the Annual Design News Science and Engineering Movie Contest, which names no winners, awards no prizes, isn’t really a contest, and appears every three years or so.
Frank Langro of Festo Corp. describes how AquaJelly, the intelligent artificial jellyfish, works. Festo demonstrated AquaJelly at its booth at Pack Expo 2014 in Chicago this week.
Design News Webinar Series
11/19/2014 11:00 a.m. California / 2:00 p.m. New York
11/6/2014 11:00 a.m. California / 2:00 p.m. New York
10/7/2014 8:00 a.m. California / 11:00 a.m. New York
12/11/2014 8:00 a.m. California / 11:00 a.m. New York
Quick Poll
The Continuing Education Center offers engineers an entirely new way to get the education they need to formulate next-generation solutions.
Dec 1 - 5, An Introduction to Embedded Software Architecture and Design
SEMESTERS: 1  |  2  |  3  |  4  |  5  |  6


Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.
Last Archived Class
Sponsored by Littelfuse
Learn More   |   Login   |   Archived Classes
Twitter Feed
Design News Twitter Feed
Like Us on Facebook

Sponsored Content

Technology Marketplace

Copyright © 2014 UBM Canon, A UBM company, All rights reserved. Privacy Policy | Terms of Service