The 2016 models now rolling into the marketplace feature new developments in use of lightweight materials, connectivity with the Internet, and integration of mobile phones with electronics systems and safety engineering.
Silicon Valley exerts increasing influence on automotive innovation, giving drivers ever more safety and entertainment features. Additionally, cellphones are giving more capabilities to drivers, delivering greater choices in navigation, audio entertainment, and hands-free connectivity to the Internet.
At this time, Apple and Google are slugging it out for a greater share of controlling your car’s electronics. Apple’s Car Play and Google’s Android Auto system integrate the capabilities of smartphones via a USB connection in the vehicle to give greater choices for audio entertainment, navigation, and in coming years even diagnose all vehicle systems to tell you when service is required.
Smartphones provide a new interface with the display screen on the vehicle’s instrument panel. So, you can then forget about original equipment navigation and audio entertainment systems and use Google maps for navigation and stream music from Pandora and other services to augment what conventional radios provide.
The 2016 Kia Optima is among the first to offer this kind of smartphone connectivity. Honda’s 2016 Accord also has the ability to link your Apple or Android smartphone with the vehicle. Chevrolet’s 2016 Malibu is spearheading this feature for General Motors. GM plans to roll out smartphone connectivity across its all of its brands, including Cadillac, Buick, and GMC trucks.
Chevrolet’s new Malibu also introduces a teen monitor system, allowing parents to check on the driving ability of their kids — including how they operate the car and how far they have driven. This system can tell parents if their kids are speeding and where they cruise to. It may be repugnant to kids, but at the same time, offers comfort to their parents.
Increasingly demanding fuel economy standards spurs the introduction of new lightweight materials in vehicles. One of the most dramatic of these developments is the new aluminum chassis in Ford F-150 — the bestselling vehicle in the United States. The newest F-150 is 750 pounds lighter than its predecessor, thanks to an all-new aluminum chassis. It gives the truck better fuel economy and more cruising range.
The all-new 2016 BMW 7 Series borrows materials technology first used in BMW’s electric vehicles. The German car importer says the new 7 Series is the first vehicle to use carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) in combination with steel and aluminum. BMW claims that the CFRP in the 7 Series pioneers new applications for this material in automobiles.
Remote starting a vehicle is now a common feature in many cars and trucks. But the Hyundai Genesis features a smartwatch app that not only allows the driver to start their vehicle, but to also lock and unlock doors and locate the car in a shopping mall parking lot. The feature currently only works with Android smartwatches, but it will probably be offered to Apple watch owners in the near future.
Many of the innovations are stepping stone features that will eventually lead to autonomous vehicles. It’s no surprise that Google is spending heavily to bring its autonomous car off the test track and into retail showrooms. Apple is reportedly starting to develop an autonomous vehicle for car buyers.
— Herb Shuldiner, Motor Matters
Copyright, Motor Matters, 2015
Manufacturer Photo: Hyundai’s BlueLink Smartwatch App gives owners a more convenient way to interact with their Hyundai vehicles. Gadget lovers can remote start their vehicles with a smartphone, smartwatch, laptop, desktop or tablet.