Technologies in their nature pass in and out of vogue making technical trends hard to follow and often complicating to understand. Automotive technologies frequently overwhelm consumers with the advent of new technical knowledge. This constant ebb and flow of tech requires the consumer to keep a watchful eye on automotive trends in order to make educated decisions when researching new cars. If there is a lack of understanding for a technology it can be difficult to develop a cohesive approach to value that technology accordingly. This article is intended to highlight the upcoming technologies that are alleged to be entering the industry and assist you in understanding the future of high tech gadgetry.
- Lightning Fast Sparking: Traditional spark plugs can struggle to fire lean charges and can produce excessive exhaust gas. In order to prevent misfiring companies such as Mercedes-Benz will use multiple sparks in order to insure firing on the cylinder. A substitute to this method is an Advanced Corona Ignition System, which emits several ion streams into the combustion chamber and serves as a miniature lightning storm. This type of ignition can achieve a 10 percent mileage gain in comparison to a traditional spark plug. It also increases the life-span of the ignition system.
- In-Dash Discussion: Many auto manufacturers are currently producing voice-activated control systems for a number of different automobiles. Carmakers are now beginning to collaborate with cell phone producers to establish technology for auto compliance with things such as phone apps and music libraries. Radar detector manufacturers, such as Escort, are already producing phone apps that allow drivers to communicate with other vehicles on the road to mitigate potential ticketing.
- Better Batteries: Hybrid and Electric vehicles have become all the rage recently but their future hinges on the abilities of better batteries. A number of private corporations, such as Sakti3 and Planar Energy, are working to produce a more cost effective battery that also yields a superior energy density. These batteries would be, in contrast to current batteries available, made of lithium superionic conductors instead of liquid electrolytes. This would not only yield more power but would also shed weight. This type of energy storage would also reduce the risk of chemical meltdown or collision damage drastically. This technology is projected to be ready for public consumption within 5 years.
- Thermo-Power: One-third of the energy in every gallon of fuel is expelled from your car via the tailpipe as heat waste. Automakers realize this and are trying to cut back on the waste. Manufacturer’s such as BMW and Honda are investing in technologies originally designed by NASA to recover these losses. NASA designed an apparatus of semiconductors that, when heated by exhaust gas, can generate electricity during acceleration. This could potentially improve mileage by up to 5 percent.
- Less Cylinders: With more pressure on car companies to build fuel efficient cars, the vast majority of manufacturers are reducing their average amount of cylinders across their model lines. I personally work at a Volvo dealership and we have cut our V8 motors entirely from our product line and most manufacturers are following suit. BMW and Mercedes have both reintroduced four-cylinder engines to their lineups while both GM and Ford have introduced 1.0 liter three cylinder models to their product line. These motors are much more efficient in comparison to their larger bore counter-parts and typically feature turbo-charging coupled with direct injection.
- Gearing: As gas mileage continues to precipitate efficiency minded innovations, the gearbox has been one of the first technologies to change. Many car manufacturers are turning to more gears to achieve a greater number of “sweet-spots” (if you will) for the motor to run in. Ferrari has produced a two-speed transaxle to place power to the FF’s front wheels independently from the rest of the drive train. The latest Porsche 911 has a seven-speed manual, the Audi A4 showcases an 8 speed automatic, and the 2013 Chrysler minivans house a nine-speed automatic. These gearboxes allow for improved mileage and smoother shift intervals. Even the 2013 Ford Mustang GT500 that produces 650hp avoids a gas guzzler tax by including a sixth speed that allows the GT500 to cruise at 70mph at 1500rpm. This type of technology is here to stay and its one gas saving constituent that doesn’t make me feel like I’m having to give anything up!
Credit: Emmett Vick and Car and Driver Magazine