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What do you hate most about car technology?

by wcunning CNET staff / July 11, 2007 9:24 AM PDT

In my recent column, The trouble with car tech, I wrote about some of the major problems I find with current car technology. What are your pet peeves with current car technology, and how could car makers improve?

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by streamline35 / July 12, 2007 5:05 AM PDT

I agree that alot of car technology is implemented badly. I also don't like how electronics cost many times more when integrated with cars than they do standalone. (like portable GPS systems are usually a few hundred dollars, where integrated are 1 or 2 thousand).

I also agree about the standard LCD screens, and I should point out the prius's LCD is standard as well. I believe even the last generation prius had a standard LCD. And it infact works very well for climate, audio, and bluetooth controls.

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LCD
by mmccormi / July 16, 2007 4:15 AM PDT
In reply to: .

MB E-class also has a standard LCD screen

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Car industry is only interested in consumables.
by Macsaresafer / July 12, 2007 6:19 AM PDT

Guess who killed the electric car: The entire auto industry.

Electric cars have one major flaw: they don't generate enough maintenance income. Without a transmission, radiator, carburetor, fuel pump, or exhaust system, the whole industry sees each electric vehicle as a loss of thousands of dollars per year. Even the brakes won't wear out nearly as fast because of regenerative braking. Electric cars threaten to reduce the automotive repair business to little more than collision repair and battery replacements.

No auto maker wants to build an electric car because the money people save would cut into their cash flow. That's not what really bugs me about the automotive industry though. What bugs me is that the automotive press won't write this.

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Not true at all
by Andy77e / July 12, 2007 10:44 AM PDT

Guess who killed the electric car: No one.

The are, and have been, companies that make electric cars. They exist today and you can buy one.

Start off with www.teslamotors.com and buy a Roadster.

The problem with EVs is, in order to make them good, they cost a ton. GM doesn't make 20 car runs that cost $100,000 dollars a car, they make mass production cheap cars. Since they can't make a good cheap EV, they are not making them.

EVs do exist, you can buy them. They are either expensive, or they suck, but then that's why the major brands do not make them.

Further, maintenance income is very little to the factory. Most manufacturers would love to make an EV because it would reduce warranty costs. Replacement parts will always be needed because of accidents, fenderbenders, and older cars that wear out. Warranty repairs cost the factory much more than they earn on oil changes and brake pads.

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If any of what you said were true,
by Macsaresafer / July 12, 2007 8:32 PM PDT
In reply to: Not true at all

GM wouldn't have spent money to destroy every EV1 they produced. There is only one reason for doing that, and that is to get rid of the evidence that electric cars are more efficient to drive and far cheaper to own.

The Telsamotors Roadster is a rich man's toy, not a car that can be driven by the average family.

If you really believe that manufacturers don't make a ton of money selling replacement parts, and their dealers don't make lots of money on scheduled maintenance (oil changes, radiator flushes, tune ups, muffler replacements, brakes, air filters, fuel pumps, etc.) then you know nothing about business.

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GM's EV1 and why they're gone...
by tbird635 / July 13, 2007 1:47 PM PDT

I worked for a Saturn dealer during the late 1990's (the division that distributed and serviced the EV1) and know the real story why none of them are left....liability and out of warranty maintenance costs. (Not true that the car was maintenance free) The EV1 was NEVER sold to anyone. They were leased with the stipulation that they were never to be sold and must be returned at the end of the lease. They were designed as basically rolling research vehicles, to get feedback and practical experience from their drivers in everyday conditions. The original EV1 run used lead acid batteries, while the second run used NiMH batteries. Federal law requires any new car manufacturer in the US to supply replacement parts for 10 years from the original date of manufacture. At a cost of $1 billion to develop and produce, offest by gov't subsidies, the battery packs alone would have run into thousands of dollars. And the battery packs didn't last much more than 25,000 miles. I wouldn't wan't a car that would cost me 5 grand every year or two just to drive it. Those who leased them never paid a dime for the batteries under the lease terms, costing GM a fortune.
Based on the battery technology at the time and the astronomical cost of the vehicle had it not been leased (and subsidized), no one I know could have afforded to own one past the lease period. It would have cost well over $75,000 without the grants.
And, yes, I have driven the car. It was fast. But it was heavy with a short range (maybe 100 miles?), running on skinny high pressure tires.
And handled poorly at best. They were only leased in AZ and CA due to weather. (dry and hot...I couldn't imagine trying to panic stop that 4000 lb car at 60 mph on skinny assed 80psi michelins on wet roads or snow for that matter)

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Nobody said the car was perfect (except many who drove it)
by Macsaresafer / July 14, 2007 8:05 AM PDT

You can make all the claims you want about it's weight and cost of owning, but the fact remains that the people who had them, wanted to keep them because they found them to be very efficient and low maintenance. The cost of gasoline in a conventional car can easily exceed $3000 per year, and that doesn't include oil changes, air filters, mufflers, etc.

The fact is that GM actually spent money tracking down, confiscating and destroying these vehicles. They've never done that with a conventional car, because they never had a reason to, and the only possible reason to do it with the EV1 is to eliminate it as an example of a better, less expensive solution for consumers. If it weren't a better solution, the smart thing to do would have been to sell it without a warranty to the people who had leased it. GM would be out of the business with a lemon to point to as the reason why, and with the cash from the sales while saving the money they spent destroying the cars.

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Make sure you never listen to anyone
by Andy77e / July 14, 2007 6:02 PM PDT

GM never made money off of the EV1. If they had continued, they would have filled for bankruptcy. The company lost $400 million on the project, even *WITH* government subsidies (read: your tax money handed to them on a silver platter). This is why they quit selling EVs even before the zero emission mandate was repealed.

Only 87% of leases had positive reviews.

Even the 87% who liked them, were not an accurate representation of America. Many were "techie people" who wanted an EV to say they had an EV (oh I'm special I have an EV). Some were crazy eco-nuts who think driving their EV means they are "saving the planet". But most people are not going to ignore the limitations of a car for those lame reasons. The fact Toyota canceled their EV program for lack of a market, I suggest as proof of this.

Of course there were people who loved their EVs. Problem is, they were insulated from the true cost of an EV. EVs were horribly expensive. No one would buy them if they paid the true cost. This is why GM had to lease them, and why GM killed the program. In order to make money, they'd have to sell them, but no customer would do that.

This is how much it would cost if the customer really paid the price. (this would have to happen for GM to make money, and thus keep making these cars)

1. The car. Average price (not including government subsidies) MSRP $44,000. $44 thousand for a 2 seat car, 10 cubic-foot trunk (my car has 20), and a 70 mile Lead-acid range, or 95 mile NiMH range. Oh what a deal. (some people have higher range estimates, but to let the battery get that low is horrible for it, and significantly reduces battery life)

2. Magnecharger and required 220 volt source. Charger costs $1500. Plus most homes do not have a 220 volt source, so hire an electrician (very expensive if you don't know). In some cases the amperage needed by the Magnecharger will exceed your homes power rating, in which case you'll need city approval to get a higher power rating ($$$).

Note: Without a 6.6 KiloWatt magnecharger, the EV1 will take about 12 hours to charge, and 24 if you have NiMH batteries. (plus long slow charges like this reduce battery life) With it, it will take 3, or 6 for NiMH.

3. Magnecharger repairs. By the end of the EV1 project, Edison Electric (the contractor for GM) had a waiting list of over 100 people, to have their home chargers repaired. I have no idea what the cost would be for this, but you'd have to pay it if GM didn't.

4. Special tires. The EV1 used special tires that were custom made, and expensive. I could not find exact prices, but a few people had to have them replaced.

5. Power Inverter. I found at least 1 creditable report (two others I couldn't verify) of the power invert going out in under a year. The Tesla Roadster's power inverter is over $2,500. An off the shelf, who knows how good it is brand, is $1,500.

6. Batteries. The lead acid packs last about 1.25 years, and cost around $20,000. A NiMH pack is estimated at $50,000 or more and was expected to last 3 years. (they can last longer under limited use. But people are not going to like "oh you can drive farther, but don't")

7. Power costs. $5 Dollars per 100 miles. (roughly) Average yearly cost estimates, based on 15,000 miles a year, at $0.12 per KiloWatt, is $750. (some places have an off peak rate, which is quite a bit less, and a summer on peak rate, which is nearly double. My area does not have either)

So lets add it all up:
1. Car $44,000
2. Charger $1,500
3. Electrician service (unknown cost)
4. In 1.5 years you'd spend up to $1150 on power, and possibly $20,000 on lead-acid battery.
5. In 3 years you'd spend $2250 on power and up to $40,000 on NiMH batteries.
6. Unknown repairs on Inverter $1500 and charger.

So it could be as much as $80,000 in 3 years, for a butt ugly, 2 seat, 10 cubic foot trunk, 100 mile a day max, performance worse than a Dodge Neon, plug it in for 6 hours to charge, car. Absolutely no one would do this.

"Well GM should have a warranty!" Well great, but one engineer said it was costing GM well over $80,000 per car. GM would be out of business in just a few years at that rate, in which case you'd have to pay for all repairs yourself anyway. So of course, GM killed the program, and reclaimed all EV1s and dismantled them.

GM is required to sell replacement parts and is required to warranty their product. If you want GM to sell EVs, the best way to get them too, is to remove that requirement. Then GM will do it, I promise. Because when that $40,000 dollar NiMH battery pack goes bad, and the customer pays for it, GM will just smile and walk away with their money. But as it stands, not going to happen.

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Clean burning and better mileage than a hybrid.......
by fonsi / July 21, 2007 9:00 AM PDT

Hi, just like to tell you that I have a 1986 Honda civic that I had converted to natural gas in 1991 when the car had only 30,000 miles on it. This cost me $1,700 and paid for itself in two and one half years, because I drive almost 70 miles ,round trip every day to work.By the way I live the west coast of Canada where there are a lot of natural gas filling stations. The car is dual fuel and goes back to gasoline with the flick of a switch. Up here natural gas is about half the price (and sometimes less) of gasoline , therefore I can go 80 to 90 miles for the same price as a gallon of gasoline. Also natural gas burns 40% cleaner than gasoline.Today the car has about 252,000 miles on it and the motor itself has not had any work done on it. Of course things like distributor, radiator ,clutch and cv joints have been done. Almost all the work on the car is done by myself, so all in all I have saved six to seven thouasand dollars in fuel costs.The natural gas system needed a rebuid for the pressure regulator which cost $500, but that is it. The car runs like a top still and passes our strict air pollution tests every year, otherwise they will not let you insure any vehicle. All I'm saying is that they claim to have so much natural gas deposits why are there no more incentives for people to use this as an energy source in their cars. Also, my Honda is the greatest conversation piece every time I fill it up. How far can you go
, how much for the conversion etc.

Hope I didn't bore anyone , but I laugh about my savings eveytime I fill it up. Thanks for the "ear".......

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Getting a Roadster--could take a little while
by Scott Gardener / July 16, 2007 9:43 AM PDT
In reply to: Not true at all

I'd love to go over to the local Tesla dealership, do a test drive, and drive home in a brand new Roadster. Two problems, though.

One, I can't afford one. Sounds like a weak and overused argument when talking about a lot of tech, but I'm not poor. My hypothetical trade-in would be one of two brand new Lexus models. I'd guess that about one in a thousand people here in America can afford one, and I suspect there aren't many places in the world where the numbers would be that much better.

Two, if I could afford one, the nearest Tesla dealership is about a thousand miles away. Indeed, it's not a matter of going to a dealership; the production rate on them is a slow trickle, since it's a young and budding company, and right now there's about a year-long waiting list.

My best chance at owning one is investing in company stock when it's available and using the huge profits to buy the car around 2011 or so, when they're going over like gangbusters.

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Re: Car industry is only interested in consumables.
by JJ / December 18, 2008 12:29 PM PST

The electric car was killed because of reduced range compared to other cars and the time it takes to recharge. Electric cars break also. The batteries has a limited lifespan and are expensive. There are other things that can break on an electric car just like any other car.

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Auto industry - same path=same result
by fire1fl / July 12, 2007 11:42 PM PDT

It's not surprising that not much progress has been made on auto electronics. The pricing model is to add only those things that provide a new revenue stream (profit center) and which don't cost downstream (i.e. No service calls when Susie's peanut butter encrusted DVD won't play or the made-somewhere-far-away screen blinks out.) Oh, and no expensive long-term training programs to teach auto mechanics how to service electronics.

Another constraint is that each suto maker wants their add-ons to be unique (not a commodity) and wants that uniqueness to hold for future parts and repairs (most automaker profits are from parts). When you see this model, think iCar.

Finally, nobody wants to be first to offer anything as standard equipment except companies already making great profits on the basic car (Toyota? BMW?). Think power windows, air conditioning, tinted glass, seat belts, air bags - all driven to standard equipment by becoming a commodity or through government mandate.

To see what's happening in auto tech, look at their magazine from SAE. Much research today is focused on networking all the electronics and electrics into a single network so that power and controls are separated (cheaper, less wiring, integrated with body panels). But if you want it all now, check out gnetcanada.com .

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I Hate Tech People Who Think They Understand Cars
by qprize / July 13, 2007 2:39 AM PDT

First, and foremost, a car is an integration of many, many separate components. Each is designed to do discrete tasks in concert with other components, but without being (too) interdependent. Most consumer electronics on cars are simply conveniences and distractions to make your longer and longer ride to work and the supermarket more bearable. If you only drove a mile to work each day you wouldn't bother with most.

Let's (briefly) look at your gripes: A USB port. Why? How many mp3 players, save the iPod, can output sound through their USB? Is there any industry standard for the different connectors? A simple, discreet mini-jack is fine (my ancient '92 Subaru had one on it's radio). A USB storage device that was also an actual KEY is an interesting idea, but they are probably monster hacking dangers.

Mobile phone book access? Superfluous. Who buys a phone that doesn't have voice dialing (can you still get one?) Anyone who makes enough calls from their car to have to use the phone book should already have a plan that has voice dialing.

Integrated live traffic. Great idea but not currently feasible. Maybe we'll have it by the time we (finally) live on the moon. First, you need systems in place to track the vehicles. Who pays for it? Subscribers? Who runs it? Can your city afford to build it? Does it disappear when you cross town lines? Second - and most important, how do you currently do it without RFIDs in every car? Do you want to lose your license because your vehicle was detected doing 75mph on the Jersey Turnpike last Sunday? Or a 3 AM wake up from the local police because your car was on Webster Boulevard around the time of a hit and run last night?

Standard central LCD screens. If you touch my cluster the cops will be asking me about a hit and run. Analog gauges are shown to be easier and faster to read, and more comprehensible than digital gauges and even digitized gauges. When I want to adjust the AC/heat I want discreet controls, either analog, which gives me infinite adjustability, or even digital. I don't want the same controller for the radio, the heat, the GPS, or anything else. I don't want to have to flip through 3 screens to get to the radio screen. I don't want a 100-watt bulb shining in my face on a dark, curvy road. I don't want to have to take my eyes off the road to turn down the volume or get Limbaugh off my radio (there's a technology I'd pay for - radios that won't play loud-mouthed jackasses). And when the LCD fails, I don't want the radio blasting, the heat set to 90, and that annoying GPS lady telling me to turn right all the time - and I can't turn it off!

Blind Spot warning is a good idea, especially that back-up sonar for Mom's minivan and cousin Billy Bob's monster Humvee. But cameras are downright stupid. They're unreliable. If the MTBF is 10,000 hours, that means the ones that fail are likely to do so within about 200 hours of use. A rear view mirror NEVER FAILS. Plus, actually turning and looking where you're driving is exponentially safer than trying to use a monitor to navigate. A second mirror positioned at the rear of the vehicle is as effective (why else do UPS trucks - arguably the most technologically advanced vehicle fleet in the world, still use the mirrors?

Satellite radio antennas. Why should I pay for an antenna when I don't have the radio? Before radios were standard equipment you didn't have an antenna. It's a warrantless expense. I notice you didn't include calling for a mobile phone antenna? Don't some people use those, too? But you don't want to pay for it.

Most importantly, cars are designed so that a single failure of anything but the motor will not cripple the entire car. If your radio dies the lights still work. If the electric locks fail, the mechanical locks work. Wiring systems are infinitely better than they were 20 years ago, but the harnesses still use separate lines for the different components. This makes catastrophic failures incredibly rare (except if you blow the fuseable link, like I once did - but that's effectively a battery failure). Even battery failures allow you to run off the alternator, and alternator failures are mitigated by better, deeper draw batteries. This use if distinct systems is always part of the design of a car, even the mechanicals. If the AC dies the engines continues to run. If your radiator overheats you can still drive to a nearby service station before the engine shuts down. Some manufacturers are going back to multiple belts to avoid multiple system failures. Heck, a GREAT display of understanding the use of technology is the Cadillac Northstar engine. If your radiator overheats, the ECM puts a governor on the engine to keep you under 50mph, uses the oil reservoir to cool the block (it takes 7 quarts for extra cooling) and then starts shutting off cylinders in a programmed pattern to minimize heat. THAT'S useful automotive technology.

The rest of this is just toys to distract you from how miserable commuting has become. If you inherited your uncle's classic Porsche Speedster, would you complain that it didn't have GPS, mp3 connections (a radio?) or steering wheel phone controls? If you do, I hope your brother contests the will.

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I hate people who design cars to wear out beore rusting out.
by bigduke / July 13, 2007 10:56 AM PDT

And I want to see at least two major US makers make one that matches the Prius in fuel economy and useful space.

As one who has maintained and repaired my cars for a half century or more, I think I have some understanding of the mechanical and electrical systems in most cars.
My 54 VW had the first (home made) dual exhausts, one that I added to the stock muffler and it might have given me one or so MPG improvement. Obviously I do all my lube and oil changes. We get about 150,000 miles on most of cars we have owned. And only one required significant engine work. And that was to remove carbon on the valves.

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lock nuts
by Quemannn / July 14, 2007 11:26 AM PDT

Why do automakers invent lock nuts that are good for nothing. I have a 2000 Toyoa Sienna XLE. The four wheels have got one lock nuts for each, and I am supposed to keep a key to unlock the lock nuts either in a glove compartment or somewhere.

Everytime I change tires, I need to take extra care to tell the mechanic where the key for the locknuts is. For the first two years, I did manage well. The situation changed and I took my van to another tire shop for tire change. I did not forget to tell the order taker where the key was, and my vehicle was brought into the garage around 9 am for pickup at 4 pm. I picked up the vehicle later in the day, and it was one year later at another tire shop when I found the lock nuts for the two front wheels were terribly botched up. Apparently, they failed to use the key but used other tools to pull the lock nuts out and put them back into place later.

Years later, I had to change tires at another tire shop, but this time the mechanic lost the key and put his screwdriver instead of the locknut key in my glove copartment, which I found one week later.

One year later, I changed four tires at another tire shop, and this time the mechanic failed to put one locknut into the right front wheel.I found it later since my vehicle was delivered to my home after three hours.

This is not to complain about all those mechanics' poor workmanship, but to complain about the lack of fool-proof devices for the locknuts and the key.In other words, automaker's negligence in ergonomic appraoches to the locknuts.

I am 60 years old, and have droven vehicles in four different countries as a long-term resident, but have rarely seen vehicle tires stolen. I wonder why automakers bothered to make locknuts but could not see the consumer side of technology. The locknuts must have been a great invention in the auto labs, but to me it is the idiotic invention that causes a lot of consumer nuisance. Do they still make locknuts and put them into wheels? They are really nuts!

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Ideal car tech

I have several gripes:


The iPud is not the only media player on the market. I want to see a head unit that synchronizes with most of the other, better players on the market.

I'd like to see solid-state storage utilized more in cars. Hard drives are too fragile to place in a vibrating, bouncing, shifting vehicle.

Not enough head units support CD-Text.

Head units that support files need to support them all. Not just WMA or MP3 and, occasionally AAC.

The Audi A3 had the right idea with a head unit that had 2 SD card slots. Current head units should support all storage formats.
--------------------------------------------------------------------
Ideally, one shouldn't need to have a CD or media player in the car. All one needs is a storage device.

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Warning lights
by dkniskern / July 13, 2007 1:23 PM PDT

I hate the prevaricating warning lights. They come on to tell me I have problems with tire pressure, or the oil needs to be changed, or the airbags are not working, etc, etc. However, when I take the car in to be fixed, it's always "just a computer malfunction" that I don't need to be concerned about. I'd rather not have them.

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Media Player
by prince10bee / July 13, 2007 1:43 PM PDT

How about a media player that can connect to your computer thru the internet and download all your media files (well video could be a little dangerous). Anyway i think its a great idea for music.

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Check out Sync
by tbird635 / July 13, 2007 2:49 PM PDT
In reply to: Media Player

See my post about the 2008 Focus and Microsoft's Sync technology. I saw a video where someone discovered that the device will actually stream and download music from a bluetooth enabled cell phone.

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The next thing.....
by tbird635 / July 13, 2007 2:47 PM PDT

Check out the Ford/Microsoft collaboration on the 2008 Focus. This alone may be the deciding factor for my next vehicle purchase.
http://www.fordvehicles.com/cars/2008focus/articlelist/?tag=Sync

ALL ABOUT THE MOBILITY: SYNC? PUTS YOUR LIFESTYLE ON THE ROAD
Hands-free calling, Voice-to-text, MP3 capability
It?s all in a name. So when that name conjures up never-before seen levels of connection, control, simplicity and personalization for your electronic devices, well, sometimes the only word for it is: Sync. In the ?08 Focus, enjoy a fully integrated, voice-activated in-car communications and entertainment system dynamo that?s all about delivering the mobile lifestyle you?ve become accustomed to.

Hands-free calling
Want to chat hands-free? No problem. Just press the ?Push to Talk? button located right on your steering wheel to connect to the numbers in your phone book. Answer incoming calls the same exact way. You also have the option to speak the number you want to dial or use presets on the radio console to speed dial whoever, whenever.

Voice-to-text capabilities
What about hearing instead of reading those incoming texts while you?re driving? Sure thing. Pushing the telephone button on the steering wheel makes your texts instantly audible, even if the message includes an LOL or :). Better still, Sync is quite the polyglot and offers voice activation in English, French and Spanish. !Ay caramba!

Voice-activated music control
But what about music? Get access to each and every song on your portable music player, phone or USB drive. Browse your collection easily by genre, album, artist and song title with easy voice commands like ?Play genre: Alternative? or ?Play: Podcast.?

Compatibility
Sync is ridiculously compatible too. Whether you?re using an iPod, USB drive, MP3-player or any ?Plays for Sure,? it?s all a go with Sync. Oh, and because Sync is USB compatible, you?ll never run out of juice on an extended road trip.

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T's about ime for a fresh look at...
by sauna6 / July 13, 2007 7:58 PM PDT

1. power outlet (that ridiculous cigarette lighter socket)
2. data ports [USB, BT, Wifi (car2car mesh systems)]
3. bumpers (now painted plastic; gets scratched just by looking at it hard)
4. seats (most are bad and non-heated, non-ventilated)
5. diagnostic ports (compatibility standard missing)
6. trash bins (mostly missing)
7. theft protection (mostly missing)
8. lights (Xenon really is not more expensive to make)

A new car needs to be innovated. It may use a simple compressed air engine, helped with solar cells and small electric motors. Cells charge the batteries and keep the car cool when parked (like my Audi does). The French are at it again, power to them. Perhaps India or China will take it from there.

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Car Tech Gripes
by germaname / July 14, 2007 3:11 AM PDT

The stupidest,most useless,and irritating product ever installed on modern day automobiles is D.L.R.'s [daylight running lights].

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Totally agree
by chaibacca / July 16, 2007 5:37 AM PDT
In reply to: Car Tech Gripes

And, I'm reminded of this every time I rent a car (I always disable them on my own car). In a lot of GM cars, the headlight switch doesn't even turn off the headlights when you have it on the "parking lights" setting, totally defeating the purpose. I guess they figured no one uses them anyway, but if you try to use the setting to flash your headlights at another driver without blinding them by using the brights, you're out of luck. I wonder why they even still have the switch on the dashboard. I guess it's for the same reason that the toy dashboard/steering wheel unit that you get for your 3-year-old in the back seat has one.

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I totally disagree
by mxsumich / July 17, 2007 7:26 AM PDT
In reply to: Car Tech Gripes

I wish the US, Like Canada has done already, would make these mandatory. I can't count the number of times I see people who don't have any lighting on in the fog or other low light conditions. I don't see a problem.

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storks lighting wipers ect
by STOREYFORPAWS2 / July 14, 2007 3:58 AM PDT

one law should be passed is that indicator,,lighting storks and wiper storks shoul have a dedicated positiond on the steering colume how would we feel if manufacturers placed footbrake,,accererator.. clutch.. pedals any place they fancied all the storks should be on the same position ref the clock 9 or 3 life would be much safer

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Manufactures applying untested technologies.
by hortnut / July 14, 2007 8:37 AM PDT

Hi,

The 2007 Chev Impala and other Models in the GM line are using a common Coaxial cable that runs through, in part, through the rocker panel, that measures the tire pressure and operates 2 things 1. Remote Start and 2. Door Unlocking.

My understanding is that they use different 'frequencies' to separate the signals, or so that is the theory. For a time they had no fix and were working on the hardware and software upgrades to get these things to work properly. I do not know if they ever got this straightened out. Most of the complaints came from back east during the cold months of last year.

Also on the Traction Controlled vehicles and AWD vehicles - the sensors seem to go bad on a regular basis, especially in areas where there is a lot of road corrosion and cold weather,

And out of warranty, these are expensive repairs.

So what do I hate the most - the cost of repairing the electronics, once out of warranty and even in warranty - having to fight with the shop personnell about appropriate repairs.

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Car technology
by zitajean / July 14, 2007 9:18 AM PDT

The repair bill for installing a new regulator on all 4 windows before warranty is out and then again after that.

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The Dashboard Is No Place for Technology.
by benoddo / July 14, 2007 3:16 PM PDT

I would like to see technology implemented to eliminate the need for fossil fuels altogether. Instead technology is being deployed to as entertainment or a poor replacement for the basic skills necessary to operate a car in a safe and responsible manner. Each time I get on to the highway, my life is not only in my hands, it's in the hands of every driver to my left, right, in front and behind me. The last thing I want next to me is a brain dead driver, either blabbing on a cell phone, playing with a GPS receiver or fumbling to change a CD. The technology being installed today is what the consumer demands, but not what is needed to keep our roads safe. In an effort to boost profits, the roads are getting more dangerous. As deaths due to drunk driving have dropped, overall fatalities have not dropped by the same margin. Meaning that people are dying on our roads for other reasons. Despite all the technology and safety features packed into a car today, the most important safety feature overlooked is the skill set of the person driving. Drivers are becoming more reliant on technology as a substitute for driving skills and until such time when cars can drive themselves, the roads will become increasingly dangerous.

I have a short drive to work daily and a week can not go by with at least one rear end collision causing a traffic jam. There's no excuse for one car to slam into the rear end of the car in front. But it happens when you follow too close, and for that split second when traffic slows and your focus is on the LCD screen or changing a tune on your iPod, that you customize your front end and some poor guy's trunk.

Forget the toys and drive as though your life depends on your abilities; because it does.

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Car design in pre-historia
by Eduardo, Generare Ltd. / July 15, 2007 3:50 PM PDT

I'm a car designer and user interface developer, worked in Italy 11 years and now I'm a product development chief in Finland for already further 15 years. No doubt that if car industry would have followed the same speed of electronic devices we see today, we would likely be flying and not using roads, water would replace gasoline and no one would be at the driving seat.

"No one on the driving seat" -that is why a lot of electronics, specially the entertaining gadgetry category, can't get into a car just like that-, there's a huge user interface problem and driving-related issues that still are not that well developed so that safety and liability is in good waters for both producers and car users.

I've seen fantastic automotive patent applications and huge attempts for loops into the future that just had to be frozen (or scrapped completely) simply because to drive a car, a real person with a human brain is required. For instance, the wind-shield cleaner is a excellent and simple device, but it has been proven to seduce driver's eyes off from crucial road elements, distracting and causing accidents "just because that little dust spot is not coming off".

One will say so that the driver should focus its fun navigating the car indeed, and the passengers should keep enjoying the ride with all gadgetry possible. User interface and machine interaction, added to regulations and liability, together with massive road tests in extreme conditions does make of a car -still- a very conservative product development item.

I specially love gadgets, design and own them as much as the market and my profession allows me to do so, and I believe that something between Google's artificial intelligence and Apple's iPhone is going to inspire the car industry, maybe not as "them" making electronics, but a wise cooperation between firms applying skills indeed on their core and expertise.

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Car Technology
by tanioskahi / July 15, 2007 9:47 PM PDT

Some car tech ma be nice, but in my opinion, since you can get top-notch audio hardware for half the price of built-in options, car makers should only include some basic hardware connectivity: Antennas, Cables, an LCD screen... and all these must be connected through standard ports like USB, audio jacks... and not proprietary weird connectors.

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