The Revolutionary Way Automotive Vehicles are Built Today

2015 Lexus LF LC

Gone are the days when cars were little more than just steel casings welded around an engine. Cars today are sleek and streamlined with many more electronic components compared to the ones produced a decade ago. The automotive industry is catching up after being long perceived as the sector slowest to take onboard new technological advancements.

The increasingly hi-tech features of the automobile industry came at a time of economic pressure on the auto market. Innovations are instrumental to a car manufacturer’s success as a response not only to consumer expectations and tastes but also to demands for lower carbon emissions and higher safety standards.

Many of these innovations are coming from Europe and Asia. The US, which is considered the heavyweight of the car industry, is lagging behind. New developments in electronics, hybrid cars and lightweight materials are already being put into production and many more hi-tech ideas are still in the planning phase.

Fuel reduction

Cars of the 1950s may still look cool to collectors but these gas guzzling dinosaurs have long since been replaced. Everyone is looking for the car that can keep its speed and horse power and efficient in gas consumption because of the higher fuel prices and legislative pressure on automobile manufacturers worldwide to reduce carbon emissions. One solution is to make hybrid cars that combine renewable energy sources with more traditional ones. Another suggestion is simply to produce lighter vehicles.

Lighter materials require less propulsion and thus lead to an improved fuel economy. This means that the car industry at present is far less focused on steel than it was 20 years ago. This traditional material is being ousted by more lightweight materials like the carbon fiber. However the high cost of this material meant it was previously used for high-end sports cars only. Automotive-grade carbon fiber has now been developed. They are cheap enough to manufacture and thus much more widely available.

There is a knock-on effect to this too. Reducing the weight of the body enables the use of lighter weight supporting parts such as car hoods made out of a blend of carbon fiber and acrylic yarn that is as thin as a fabric. This is very thin yet incredibly strong.

Even with lightweight materials the automobile industry continues to rely heavily on quality cutting machinery. Modern has finely honed edges that keep tools working longer for greater efficiency and precision. Advances in the laser technology have also helped in speeding up the welding process and in improving the efficiency of the sector in general.

The rise of the hybrids

Many people confuse hybrid cars with electric-powered vehicles. But hybrid vehicles are simply those that use two separate power sources to move them. For example it can refer to the combination of an internal combustion engine and an electric motor. Hybrid cars have been on the US market since 1999.

No one can deny the fact that electric cars are energy-saving and that the world will be seeing much more of them in the future. However this may call for more research and development efforts for smaller, more efficient batteries and charging technology. Car companies are also working on hydrogen fuel cell cars that would emit only water vapor.

Electronic technology

In the past electronics have accounted for about a quarter of a vehicle. But today trends will make us infer that this figure will soon increase. More and more partnerships are being made between technical firms and auto parts companies to make this possible. We’ve already witnessed the huge rise in GPS systems and in-car displays. The future is now in fully augmented reality dashboards.

Electronic technology serves to assist and relieve the driver in tasks like parking. Tech-assisting cars that park themselves are no longer science fiction. There are indeed self-driving cars that are already in the testing phase.

Road safety is one aspect that rose above all other motivations. In the 1960s airbags were unheard of. But today they are now installed as standard feature in all new cars. The latest safety equipment deals with stopping a collision before it happens. Known as active safety products they include lane-departure warning systems, adaptive cruise control and front and rear cameras to help prevent accidents.

Vehicle-to-Vehicle-Communication or V2V is also in the testing phase. This could reduce the number of traffic accidents with the use of wireless signals to send information about the location, speed and direction of other vehicles to drivers in the vicinity.

Other high-tech features in modern cars add to the comfort of both passenger and driver and the general look of the car. These include active headrests and innovations in polymer seat coatings that repel water and resist stains. This reminds us that drivers now want more from a car than merely a method of transportation.

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