Why all your car's windows aren't automatic
4:41

Why all your car's windows aren't automatic

Cars
[MUSIC] Hey, folks, Cooley here with another one of your emails about high tech cars and modern driving. This one comes in from Marshall in Chicago. He's got a question about the way power windows work that is very interesting. He asks, why don't all cars have fully automatic windows like luxury cars do? If they programmed the driver side window to do it, wouldn't the effort be negligible to add the coding to the other three windows? Is this just to make buyers move to the higher trim leve? If so, shame on you, car makers, says Marshall Marshall? Shame on you. Well, it's not quite a matter of them trying to rook you. Although, there is an angle of that. Let's take a look, Marshall. First of all, this whole idea you're talking about is what's called express up, or express down. It means the single actuation of the window button will fully lower or raise the window without you constantly standing on it. And this express up or express down term is a standard piece of language. So that's what they call it in the regulations to take a look at this. So let's look at regulations because that's where the car industry turns, not just on consumer demand but on feature innovation but if you've got an express up or down, express up in particular, you have to have ARS That stands for automatic reversal system. It means an express-up window will stop and back off a bit if it runs into something before fully closing. This was originally driven not by US law, but by voluntary compliance with an arcane UN and European community code called ECE R21. > You'll win some bar bets with that. Only later did the US come along and also adopt that UN requirment that cars sold here had already been complying with. So some good common sense. Now what the US did add to that UN rigmarole is the idea that we need to have ARS required on US cars. If they have remote control power windows either from a key fob which would be a decent distance away or from an app which could be enormous distance away. Anytime you're not clearly gonna be right there at the window looking at it while you operate, US laws says its gotta have an automatic reversal system. So there you go with that piece of the safety picture. So US regulators didn't lead on automatic reversal. They instead focused on button behavior and recently, as of October 2010, said that all power window buttons in new U.S. cars need to have a pull up function to raise, or close, the window. You can't do anything else. You can't push, you can't rocker one way or the other, it's got to be a pull up. The idea there is that it's almost impossible to imagine a child or a pet Stepping on a pull up button and somehow actuating a window that's going to trap them, it just doesn't really work that way and the stats have proved that to be true. So that's where the regulations lie that kind of box-in car makers on how they design the windows, the buttons, and their behavior So then your question is specifically, why don't they all go up automatically with a single pull? First of all you've got market segmentation as you suspect. Car makers know that people like you write to people like me asking about features like this. In other words it's a desirable feature. And they know that it's a way for them to segment one trim level from another, one model from another, even one make of car from another. So that's one way they filter this. Because honestly, it's all about segmentation for the lowest amount of money. Then there's cost control, speaking of money, there was a NITSA survey done not too long ago that said to add automatic reversal system to an auto up window costs about $6 per window, so that would add $18 to a car for the windows that often don't have express up. That is an enormous amount of money in the car industry when they have a cost of a part that goes up ��30 they hold a design committee meeting so $18 is like a world worth of expenditure. Sure, and not all consumers are going to appreciate it. Thirdly, you've got risk mitigation. Car companies are run by lawyers and finance. The engineers and designers just happen to work there. And they will take a look at this and say, you know what? Is there enough of a consumer demand for back windows that are auto up or even a passenger window? What if we just make the driver window that way? It's at a place where the driver is very well aware of what it's doing, and it has the added benefit of getting your hands back on the wheel, both of them, as opposed to riding a button for a few more seconds. So they also see it as a safety play, while also making the other windows not turn into guillotines that are unattended. That's the real formula of how carmakers decide not to give you auto-up, or express-up, on every window. Keep those emails coming, I'm here to answer your questions about high-tech cars and modern driving. It's cooley@theroadshow.com.

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