Have automobiles become electronics platforms with engines and transmissions thrown in as afterthoughts? One might be forgiven for thinking so. At the 2012 New York International Auto Show, taking place at New York City's Javits Center April 6 through 15, there was less differentiation amongst products outside the sheet metal than beneath it.
Under the hood, power trains are moving forward via the slow but steady mainstreaming of hybrids and electric vehicles. Performance cars are pushing the envelope with faster but more economical engines. And collector cars of yore, in a special show-floor pavilion, proved that Detroit has quite a historical heritage.
Click on the picture below to see our gallery of the latest from the New York Auto Show floor
Honda's Indy Grand Prix car. This chassis first raced in 2006 and won the Toronto Indy in 2009.
For a close-up look at GM's Chevy Volt, go to the Drive for Innovation site and follow the cross-country journey of EE Life editorial director, Brian Fuller.
Loved the spectrum of classic looks with the sci-fi look of some of the newer models. I have seen the redesigned, old, but new Charger around and I have to say, I like it better in the 2000s than I ever did in the `70s. As for the out-there looking cars, BMW's i3/i8 electric vehicles are pretty novel looking. Not sure I fully like the look, but I find with these aerodynamic body structures, it takes a bit of getting used to before you can fully appreciate the aesthetics.
Beth, yes, it is a very interesting mix of old and new. Aerodynamics is back. That is good. Do you remember in the 80s when car manufacturers used to advertise their coefficient of drag? Then we got SUVs.
The Morgans are interesting. I believe that the chasis is still wood. Their is a long waiting list to get one.
I think the new Dodge Dart is an Alfa Romeo sedan with a new skin. If that is true it will be a great driving car. I had an Alfa GTV (Gran Turisimo Veloce, or Grand Trouring Fast) when I lived in Europe at the turn of the millenium. It was a great car. This is my most anticipated result from the Chrysler/Fiat tie up. Oh, and the Charger is great too.
I also liked the MV-1 taxi. This looks a bit like the London taxis. They are much easier to get in and out of and really are more practical than the beat up large sedans used in the US.
Alex, you are right in your supposition that cars are becoming electronic platforms. I heard a while ago that the manufacturer's cost was 1/3 powertrain, 1/3 chasis and 1/3 electronics. Compare that to a few years ago.
Naperlous, you are right. Most of the mechanical and manual parts are getting replaced by electronic components and automations. I think in near future other than fuels, almost all functionalities may take place with the help of electronics.
I feel like an old fogey with this comment; but it seems that the electronics revolution translates into a chance for the repair shops to charge whatever they feel like for repairs. Two real stories both involving my wife's cars - one had a faulty sensor that required replacement of the entire engine (I kid you not - fortunately it was under warranty) and recently a thermostat replacement cost $700 - not under warranty. Now granted, newer cars are much more sophisticated and fuel effecient than the cars of 30 years ago - but sometimes it would be nice to know that if your car dies you can clean up the sparkplugs with a wire brush and gap the points with a piece of cardboard and get it running again.
I enjoyed the slideshow. It was nice to see what is coming down the pipeline. But where are the other US automakers. Half of those were old cars and don't get me wrong I love seeing old cars. Too bad no brass era cars in there or a speedsteer with an airplane engine in it. Those are even more neat to see. :) I realize the show name has international in it, but Ford seems to have been present. Hey, have any more pics of Honda's NASCAR engine? Is it tuned port or direct injection? Looks like it's a dual overhead cam engine and a direct inject, but never can see any really up close pics of one of the engines.
hey Alex - did you get to roadtest any of those babies? they are all gorgeous and fun to drive as well - but are they safe? However, one thing is for sure: I am sure there are a lot of "MEMS inside" those machines.... Karen
Driving, no. Sitting in lots of them, yes. Getting into a Smart car and closing the door is an experience. Not exactly a heavy thud. Sensors were definitely on the agenda there, in that they're not visible but if you go to the automaker people, they will talk about them. Anyway, the electronics evolution is well along on the automotive platform.
At the dawn of this new millennium, (circa Y2K) when advance development teams were brainstorming radical new concepts of integrating GPS, BT, MP3 via USB, WiFi, Large-color LCD-screens, and other "radically new ideas" into the automotive sector, electronics engineers were somewhat chastised by automotive engineers for crowding into their space. After all, the V8 and the automatic transmissions were established mechanical wonders with over half a century of implemented use."Surely this new electronic stuff is just a passing fad --- its kinda cool, but really, who would want all that electronic gizmo stuff – it only distracts from the driving experience".
Thank goodness the automotive sector DID adapt, since their legacy is often backward looking.
The Grand Prix isn't much of a family car. No place to put your luggage, the mileage stinks, the shock absorbers are lousy, the CD player is non-existant, and it is a magnet for the police! They need to go back to the drawing board...
I must say that the cars I have owned for the past 20 years have been extremely reliable. Perhaps we are all a little spoiled. I remember when I was starting out in the '60's, I always bought used because I couldn't afford new. I also remember spending a substantial part of my life UNDER the car replacing: Exhaust system ,about once a year, points...Maybe not all of you are old enough to know about points, condensers, ignition coils, replaced every 3000 miles, plugs re-gapped every 1000 miles , engine overhaul at 40,000......should I go on?
I have driven my last 5 cars in excess of 80,000 miles without as much as one tune-up and no other problems that I can think of that wasn't covered by warantee.
I know we owe Japanese quality (invented by an American by the way) for what we have today along with competition.
I agree completely, MMorgan. I'm still surprised by the reliability of cars I've owned in the past 15 or 20 years. I drove my last three cars beyond 150,000 miles with no major problems. A new alternator here, a new battery there. That's about it.
economic justification is the predisposing influence in buying most cars in our world, electric cars are nice, except lithium batteries heat up and the car creeps along, then there is a disposal cost for the petro chemical coalfired electric powered carbattery, and the replaement costs, All this talk about tesla, a company fueled by obama but since elon took the company away from eberhardt in the early 2000's it has lost more money than anyone knows except the bankruptcy expert playing the electric, solar green hype, spacex, iron man to get unwary investors to buy and or invest in the invisible cars and the missing manufacturing company. wind energy and lithium batteries make a good source of power for laptops, but on a matter of scale, it does not pass the economic justification model and will eventually fail taking its unwary investors with it, in the NYSE IPO's where las vegas ethics are the dominant power, similar to farce buck where IPO's get unwary investors to invest in cheap india produced software, selling the invisible, for the more visan=ble gold, works well for the NYSE criminal commercial gang who stole america exporting our factories and ending our family businesses, for chump change FREE TRADE IS SLAVERY
@naperlou. Much as I'd like to believe it, the Morgan 3-wheelr doesn't have a wooden chassis: it's tubular space-frame like the originals. You may be confusing it with the wooden floors they used to have. The only wooden chassis I can remember was the 1960s Marcos that originally used a marine ply and fibreglass monococque, but sensibly abandoned it in favour of a conventional steel chassis.
Scott, I join you on this one. Long gone are the days when I could successfully "fix" a problem with my carburetion, transmission, etc etc. I, like most engineers, pretty much grew up working on cars. Of course that was in the late '50s and early 60s and boy have times changed. I suppose for the better but at any rate they have changed. One good thing--the diagnostic equipment, seemingly, has changed with it but your "shade-tree mechanic" (like me) does not have that equipment. We are dependent upon others, supposedly trained, to affect any and all repairs. From past experience, issues with electronics seem to be the most difficult to diagnose when problems arise. As automotive technology advances, the ability to make necessary repairs must keep pace.
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