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What’s missing from the modern car?

By Jane Speechley - 23 July 2017 26

Self driving vehicle

I never thought I’d be the kind of person who valued heated seats in their car. They seemed like such an unnecessary indulgence.

But boy, I’ve been appreciating them over these last few weeks of cold weather in our region.

It’s about that time of year in Canberra where we all just get sick to death of being cold all the time, am I right? As I left my office last week at around 6pm (so pitch dark, obviously … ), I found myself dreading that first 5-10 minutes of the drive home in that icy-cold car.

You know, when you just have to bear with the cold air, cold seats, cold steering wheel, until all the systems warm up. Of course, it’s MUCH worse in the mornings. Brrrrrr.

I’m lucky enough to have a relatively new car with keyless entry and ignition – so I can enter and start the vehicle without removing the ‘key’ or fob from my bag or pocket.

It got me thinking: given this proximity technology exists, why don’t we yet have the ability to start our cars remotely, so they can warm up before we arrive?

I can do this with my home heating system. I can log in via the internet and an app, to switch the heating or cooling on or off in any room of my house.

In an era when our cars are almost as connected as your standard small business office, why can’t we do the same?

I have very happy memories of my last car, which was a little Honda Jazz. It was filled with clever features, including rear seats that folded right down to floor level – that was what sold me on the model, in the end.

But another neat little gadget was a foldaway hook behind the passenger seat, which could be used to hang a handbag, a shopping bag, or even a short coat. Such a simple idea and smart use of space, I always wondered why more manufacturers didn’t catch on to the idea.

So if you were in the business of manufacturing cars, what’s features or gadgets would you add that are missing from the modern car?

Smart phone

auto pilot button

Remember ‘Pimp My Ride’? It ran for more than six seasons, with offshoots around that world, and it was popular because we loved to see what whacky, ridiculous features the West Coast Customs team were going to install that week.

Giant flat-screen TV in the boot? That was pretty much standard equipment.

A fairy floss machine or clothes dryer? Let’s do it!

Pop-up champagne bar? What could possibly go wrong…

Of course, most of these were bad ideas for many reasons – and in fact, many of the craziest additions were removed right after filming, usually for functionality or safety reasons.

But that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for a few daring ideas. I did a bit of Googling around, and here are a few suggestions I found:

  • Some sort of interior cleaning system, with drainage for spilt drinks,
  • Connectedness between vehicles to share information about driving conditions, accidents, delays, etc., and
  • Fold-out steps or ramps to improve access for the elderly, people with disability and even pets.

All great ideas. Not that I’d knock back that champagne bar though.

Let your imagination go wild – technologically or otherwise, what do you think is missing from the modern car? Any features of your car that you’ve appreciated more than you expected?

What’s Your opinion?


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26 Responses to
What’s missing from the modern car?
Jane Speechley 1:39 pm 24 Jul 17

bigred said :

Things I would like to see are cruise control interfacing with road speed signs (being developed now), electric and independent all wheel drive (was being developed), electric all wheel steering (tried a Lexus with it recently) and smart technology ignition devices that interact with driver and motor vehicle registration data bases to ensure drivers are licensed for the class of vehicle and vehicles are registered.

Agreed, surely the cruise control interface can’t be too far away?? What a game changer …

Jane Speechley 1:38 pm 24 Jul 17

Spiral said :

Some ideas:
A second battery (smaller if possible) so that when your battery dies on a cold winter morning you can still start the car and get to work, and then pick up a replacement later that day.

Built in dash and rear facing cameras.

A black box that records speed, braking, steering, indicators, lights etc, as well as the last 30 seconds of the dash and rear cameras. For use in investigating an accident.

The black box and spare battery, especially, are great ideas!

devils_advocate 12:20 pm 24 Jul 17

Dear heavenly spirit, thank you for providing us with the direct-port nitrous injection, four-core intercoolers, ball-bearing turbos, and titanium valve springs.

JC 12:00 pm 24 Jul 17

Rachel Ziv said :

My daughter said to me one day, “Mum, why can’t they just invent a button so when you press it your seat belt comes over you and clips in by itself?” I didn’t know whether to be impressed or laugh about the sheer laziness of her thought. Seems that’s what our next gen may be looking for!

That is a bit extreme but as for laziness things we treat as normal these days (electric windows, auto headlights etx) might have been considered lazy and extreme 20 years back.

Holden Caulfield 11:19 am 24 Jul 17

IIRC remote start is optional on a number of European brands, but many attribute Australia as a “hot climate” country and don’t offer it.

@Spiral much of what you suggest would be gathered by ECU’s these days, except the camera recordings of course.

@bigred Independed all-wheel drive is kind of here with the advent of hybrids, especially high-performance models which, for example, may have electric motors powering the front wheels independently, with the ICE powering the rear wheels. From memory the new Honda NSX has a feature like this. In time, as electric powered cars become more common, expect to see an electric motor powering each wheel individually. Some concept models have been made already with this in mind.

@Maryann that remote window opening/closing feature has been on VW models for well over 10 years. Your dealer really should have known that. Especially handy for closing a sunroof if you forget to do it before exiting the car as well.

@bryansworld Oil temp gauge, maybe? Many modern cars will have oil temp accessible through the multi-function display in the dash cluster. You can probably also get an aftermarket app to tap into the OBD information, which would give access to this informaiton. I agree it should be more readily available. More importantly, would be making owners aware of the importance of oil temps, as I dare suggest most wouldn’t have a clue. One feature in line with this thinking is found on some high performance models where the ECU will temporarily lower the maximum revs available until the engine has reached peak operating temp.

Kim F 9:59 am 24 Jul 17

My current bug bear – new cars that don’t come with Auto Lights On. These same cars invariably have dash boards that light up when ignition is on so when brain dead driver is driving in twilight conditions, they can see their gauges. However, in the old days when you couldn’t see your gauges because of the lack of light, it was a reminder that you needed to turn your lights on.

blandone 7:57 am 24 Jul 17

My commodore has remote start, I think they’ve had it since 2015? There must be other makes out there with it. Only the autos have it, will start from about 100m away and runs the AC on the same setting as when the vehicle was last turned off – brilliant for the cold winters/hot summers.

bryansworld 5:43 am 24 Jul 17

An oil pressure gauge, so you know when the car is actually warmed up. For some reason these have dissappeared from cars. +1 on seat heaters. They are truly wonderful.

Maya123 10:00 pm 23 Jul 17

Being able to open and close the rear side windows from inside without needing to turn the key. The old cars had handles to turn to allow this, but the modern cars have done away with this. It’s a nuisance when camping in the car needing to crawl out of bed and the car in the middle of the night (even if it’s raining…maybe why the windows need to be closed) to open the front car door to turn the ignition just to open or close the back window, and then to have to crawl back into bed.

No_Nose 9:31 pm 23 Jul 17

Multiples horns, all of which play “La Cucaracha”.

You can never find a horn when you’re mad

bigred 8:00 pm 23 Jul 17

Things I would like to see are cruise control interfacing with road speed signs (being developed now), electric and independent all wheel drive (was being developed), electric all wheel steering (tried a Lexus with it recently) and smart technology ignition devices that interact with driver and motor vehicle registration data bases to ensure drivers are licensed for the class of vehicle and vehicles are registered.

bikhet 5:46 pm 23 Jul 17

Rachel Ziv said :

My daughter said to me one day, “Mum, why can’t they just invent a button so when you press it your seat belt comes over you and clips in by itself?” I didn’t know whether to be impressed or laugh about the sheer laziness of her thought. Seems that’s what our next gen may be looking for!

They appeared, at least in part, in American cars some 30 years ago. When you closed the door the sash part of the seatbelt would rise in a track in the window frame to the locked position, strapping you in place. Vice versa when you opened the door. You still had to do the lap part yourself. A pain in the neck all round so eventually the feature was removed.

Spiral 4:58 pm 23 Jul 17

Some ideas:
A second battery (smaller if possible) so that when your battery dies on a cold winter morning you can still start the car and get to work, and then pick up a replacement later that day.

Built in dash and rear facing cameras.

A black box that records speed, braking, steering, indicators, lights etc, as well as the last 30 seconds of the dash and rear cameras. For use in investigating an accident.

Rachel Ziv 3:30 pm 23 Jul 17

My daughter said to me one day, “Mum, why can’t they just invent a button so when you press it your seat belt comes over you and clips in by itself?” I didn’t know whether to be impressed or laugh about the sheer laziness of her thought. Seems that’s what our next gen may be looking for!

Maryann Mussared 1:27 pm 23 Jul 17

The heated car seat shouldn’t be viewed as a luxury. On long journeys, I find it is a useful way to regulate the temperature in the car. Passengers might feel the cold and want the heating turned up, which makes the driver drowsy. A heated seat allows individuals in a car to have control. Something that all cars should have is windows that open automatically as you approach the car. The dealer who sold me my VW didn’t know about this particular feature – I was told by someone who had read the fine print in the very lengthy manual. In summer, as I approach my car sitting in the sun (from as far away as 100 metres), I hold down the open button on the remote for a couple of seconds and all the windows open together, letting all the hot air out. before you get in. Remarkably effective!

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