Only a few decades ago in-car technology consisted of a tape deck and electric front windows. Fast forward to 2015, however, and the kit stuffed into cars is a lot more sophisticated.
Whether it’s in-car media systems with expansive touchscreen displays, slick sat navs that can respond to your voice commands and take you to the nearest Italian restaurant – choosing the most economical, traffic free route, with electric charging points en route if desired – heads up displays that show your speed and driving information on the windscreen or even digital dials that can be set up in dozens of different configurations, the modern car probably contains more computing power than your house.
And that’s all before you get to the matter of self-driving cars. You may think that autonomous vehicles are a number of years off, but a huge proportion of cars already in showrooms can maintain a safe distance behind other traffic, keep you in your lane on the motorway and even slam on the brakes if they sense that you are going to crash into the car in front. Internet connectivity, 360 degree parking cameras, automatic headlights and windscreen wipers, and even automatic parking tech are also all widespread.
But do drivers value having this expensive kit fitted to their cars? Well, a survey of British motorists, commissioned by Ford dealer group TrustFord, has discovered that 38 per cent see automatic parking kit and 26 per cent see in-car Wi-Fi as ‘game-changing’ technology affecting their time spent in the car. Autonomous driving kit came in third place with 18 per cent of the 2,000 respondents eagerly awaiting it on their next car.
Another technology that 16 per cent of respondents are looking forward to include augmented reality dashboards – an example being a Land Rover prototype system that can essentially make the bonnet transparent to give you a better view of the road – or muddy field for that matter – that you are driving across. Scoring 15 per cent in the survey was the provision of permanent phone signal inside the car.
Even though many motorists are eagerly awaiting cutting edge new kit, there are still widespread concerns over the security of these systems; half of respondents said that they are worried about who could be able to hack into their information if telematics systems (used by a number of insurers to monitor driver’s speed, location and driving style) become used on a mass scale. Despite the interest in self-driving technology, however, 35 per cent of motorists are still apprehensive about the prospect of cars driving themselves on UK roads.
Though motorists are keen on being able to benefit from sophisticated technology, it transpires that two thirds have difficulty using the high-tech functions that are already in their current car – including parking sensors, Bluetooth and complicated media systems. As a result of the widespread confusion over the raft of high-tech kit fitted to most new cars, more and more manufacturers are working to help explain the benefits of different systems in their dealerships. BMW and Mini, for instance, employ dedicated staff to help show potential buyers exactly how to use the in-car technology fitted to their models.
Picture: Patryk Kosmider