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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?
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bryansworld 4:50 am 26 Jul 17

Holden Caulfield said :

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.

Yep, oil temperature as well as oil pressure. And a voltmeter. More information keeps you out of trouble.

bryansworld 4:46 am 26 Jul 17

Kim F said :

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.

+1. There’s a lot of these zombie drivers around. Some don’t even get it when you flash your lights at them.

dungfungus 10:08 am 25 Jul 17

I miss the lack of free-flow ventilation, especially the quarter-vent windows on front doors that could be adjusted to channel in air (and the occasional grasshopper) in great volumes. Nowadays we have to contend with very limited free air flow through the same vents as the air-conditioning is routed through via a”pollen filter” which is very expensive and totally useless.

Part of the thrill of a trip along the highway or in the bush was enjoying the fresh air with a tinge of new-mown lucerne etc. The last two generations born will never experience this as they are cocooned in the airconditioned, pollen-filtered confines of the modern motor car.

I also miss the hand throttles which have been replaced by cruise control.

devils_advocate 8:53 am 25 Jul 17

-billet alloy engine blocks
-forged pistons and connecting rods
-fully counterweighted crankshafts
-variable geometry compressor wheels
-sequential straight-cut gears
-triple plate clutches
-front and rear mechanical LSDs
-stitch welded chassis
-N02 injection
-methanol/water injection
-flex fuel
-open-source engine management software and USB consult
-solid propeller shafts and half-shafts
-dry sump
-electric water pump

astrojax 7:48 am 25 Jul 17

flight!

where’s my flying car yet??

bigred 8:09 pm 24 Jul 17

@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.

I imagine a constant RPM internal combustion engine, powering a battery that feeds an electric motor at each wheel (say 4X 50kw) will be the drive train for my next euro all wheel drive.

@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.

I had a 1995 VW with this feature

@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.

why bother? Austin/Morris/Wolesley/Hillman/Sunbeam are name plates that are pretty much history

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