Many cars also use controllers for power steering, turn signals, headlights, horns (yes, horns), dome lights, door lights, tail lamps, seat motors, heated seats, ignition, window lifts, door locks, heating, cooling, compressors, pumps, and tire management. On hybrids, don't forget to include the controllers for inverters, supervisory systems, DC/DC converters, and battery management. Finally, there are the new items we mentioned earlier: smartphone connectivity; Internet connectivity; and specialized automotive head units, like the one in the new Cadillacs.
So where do you want to start cutting? The problem is that cutting features is a lot like cleaning up Congress: No one ever wants to get rid of their guy. Many consumers don't need Internet in the car, but they want to connect to their iPods and smartphones. Others say they don't need a fancy radio, but they want GPS navigation. "I don't need heated side-view mirrors or wipers on my headlights," noted one commenter on the Design News site. "I have to confess, though, heated seats are nice in the cold weather."
Yes, I agree.
The problem is, we can't cherry-pick the electronic items we want. Many are integrated into common sub-systems. You buy one; you get the others for free… well, kind-of-free, anyway. And if automakers try to separate them, they lose their economies of scale.
Then there's the age issue. To many of us who have been driving for three or four decades, a lot of the electronic paraphernalia seems unnecessary. Maybe even wasteful. But not everyone feels that way.
Buried beneath the hoopla of the recent CUE announcement, Cadillac tucked this word: Millennial. For those unfamiliar with it, "Millennial" is a term used to describe consumers born in the 80s and 90s, maybe even in the 2000s. In passing, Cadillac mentioned that it was making an iPad-like head unit because Millenials would be comfortable with it.
In response to the Design News story about Cadillac CUE, one commenter expressed the sentiment that will almost certainly be on the minds of Millenials. "All I can say is, finally!" the commenter wrote about CUE. "Soon, haptic response, audio feedback, and large print on dashboard screens will be commonplace in all models, in only a few years. Why, because it's brilliant? No, I think because it's obvious. It will soon become 'expected.' "
Indeed, it will be expected. One day, car buyers may think a vehicle without Internet connectivity is positively primitive.
What do you think? Have I laid out the arguments? Or do you simply think there's too much electronics? Please leave a comment below.
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