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Hooniverse Asks: What new automotive technology has your attention?

Jeff Glucker October 10, 2017 Hooniverse Asks 56 Comments

We love old cars. There’s no denying the fact that driving a machine predating our own year of birth is a joy many of us relish. Still, there are aspects of old car ownership that can be tiresome at times. It’s all worth putting up with, but occasionally you see a bit of the newer tech offered in brand new cars and it captures your attention.

We’re on the cusp of higher levels of semi-autonomous driving. Bluetooth everything is offered on the most entry level vehicles. Heated front seats are nearly standard equipment on all but the cheapest of new rides. What bit of recent or near-future technology has your ears perked, eyes open, and brain spinning? Is there anything you’ve experienced that you can’t live without after getting a taste? Is there something coming down the pipe that has you itching to give it a go?

What bit of modern automotive technology, if anything, has you most interested?

  • onrails

    It’s not new technology… but I’m enjoying my Volt a great deal. Got 1800+ miles out of my last gas tank because I’m able to charge at work and home and use the car for mostly running around locally. Increase in the home electrical use is up ~$25/month. I hope there is an infrastructure plan for the new push for battery production and electrical power since a lot of companies seem poised for electrical only. But overall it’s a really good and utilitarian car, and it lets me own the gas hog (but so worth it) SS to drive when I want to and keep it out of the salt in the winter.

    But as much as people want to make you think it’s new, battery powered cars are far from it.
    The trick will be seeing where the energy is actually coming from to charge up.

    • “But as much as people want to make you think it’s new…”

      I’ve noticed this while attending some of the local EV shows. Almost all of the vehicles are modern and their owners seem to be both unaware of automotive history and unconcerned with it. The occasional grumpy old fart who’s been tinkering with electric conversions for decades will show up with a modified Bug and/or Pinto*, only to be met with incomprehension and blank stares. Don’t even get me started on the out-and-out weirdos who insist on bringing Lyman Electric Quads or Sinclairs. Beyond that, the really early stuff from a century or more ago simply isn’t to be seen.

      *Actually at the last show it was a Fiero.

    • Troggy

      The Volt is the only concept of electric vehicle that I think that I would like. I like the idea of pure electric drive with an engine that is effectively a generator/booster.
      The cost of them horrifies me however.

      • onrails

        Mine’s a first gen that I got used last year. With how much better the new cars are in terms of electrical range plus people are pretty leery of the ‘new’ technology, the used cars can be found pretty reasonable if you do some shopping.

      • P161911

        You can pick up a nice used one in the mid-teens. The EV powertrain/batteries have a 8 yr./100k mile warranty. If you factor in the gas savings they re as cheap or cheaper than a comparable Cruze.

      • Vairship

        With both the Volt/Ampere and the Bolt/Ampere-e, GM as been very impressive. Now if they did the marketing and naming a little smarter, they’d be selling like crazy.

  • Alff

    It seems like most new automotive technologies are intended to compensate for a lack of attention. That said, Mazda’s compression fired gas engine is very interesting.

  • GTXcellent

    Living in the land of mud and dirty gravel roads – Nissan’s Ultra-Ever Dry paint

    • Smaglik

      That’s pretty cool. Will we see the Car Wash lobby come out both guns blazing against this? Seems like a great way to save water.

    • dukeisduke

      So no remake of the movie “Car Wash”? Bummer.

  • Maymar

    Whether or not autonomous vehicles ever hit the market in serious numbers (in my lifetime at least), I’m excited by the proliferation of radar cruise control in mass market vehicles (I’m just sayin’, it makes a $15k Corolla pretty attractive). We’re at a level where tech is allowing you to let something else handle (or at least smooth out) busy highway driving, which I find massively irritating.

    • Rover 1

      SO MUCH more useful in traffic than the standard, non radar cruise control which basically doesn’t work in traffic. Deserted roads seem to be consigned to past eras.

  • Sjalabais

    I’m fascinated by automatic front lights. My neighbour’s Mercedes starts up with a calibration light show and then commences to always provide perfect lighting – without blinding ongoing traffic. It’s an amazing technology and a massive effort on behalf of the developers, I guess. It also works pretty well – road signs are always lit up as if they were magically lighted by someone else. All because people are too stupid to control the lights themselves.

  • I’m hearing good things about automatic chokes for carburetors and might consider one on a future purchase.

    • Harry Callahan

      I like the primer bulb on my string trimmer. Who needs fuel pumps? Henry Ford got away without using them until 1932!

      • My current fleet remains divided on the question of fuel pumps but is unanimous in its devotion to the manual choke.

        • Rover 1

          I’ve heard a rumour that the time for carburettors may be over and that the outright witchcraft of fuel injection, perhaps controlled by electricity in some way, might be coming upon us. What could come next? Brakes that can’t lock up and cause skids? Perhaps even a way of actually COOLING and not JUST heating the air coming into the passenger compartment? Yes, the luxury of interior heaters has barely become common and yet there may be more.

  • Harry Callahan

    Forced induction IC engines in concert with hybrid drive.

    I am captivated by the performance achieved by the Porsche 918 and other hybrid supercars. Using very high specific output engines in concert with electric motors offers superior performance, albeit with great complexity. I look for this tech to filter down to mass market performance cars like Corvette, perhaps even Mustangs.

    • JayP

      I can see the next gen Mustang having some regen capability, if only to keep the V8 in the GT.

      • Harry Callahan

        Good point. There is little to dispute that the “best” Mustang GT would be an EcoBoost 3.5….but such a car would not be consistent with muscle car lore.

        Ford did take a big risk making the EcoBoost 3.5 the top engine in the F150, and it has been successful…but I think it will be a cold day in Hell when a V6 is the top engine in a Mustang.

    • neight428

      The idea of using the low speed/rpm torque of an electric motor to fill in the powerband of a small, high revving FI engine is glorious, but as you point out, it hasn’t yet gone downmarket, perhaps because you can still manage to sell people 400hp for less than $30k with conventional designs. As painful as it is for me to say it, cars these days really aren’t lacking for power.

  • Fred Talmadge

    Wiper blades. All my old cars have had rather poor wipers. The 1971 MGB with it’s 3 blades might of been the exception. Couple those lousy wipers with poor defoggers and you can understand why we don’t drive our classics in the rain.

    • Harry Callahan

      “you can understand why we don’t drive our classics in the rain.”

      –In my case, it’s lack of crash protection. You have seen those old car youtube videos, haven’t you….the ones that show the crash dummy heads bashing into the A-Pillars…?

      • Alff

        For me it’s the wicked understeer inherent in mid-50s Fords and the rust prone nature of 35 year old Italian steel.

        • Harry Callahan

          How could a 4000+lb barge on 14in bias-ply tires not understeer?

        • In my case it’s unquestioned acceptance of the CCCA list, so nothing I own is a classic anyway.


          • 0A5599

            Have you considered approaching the owner of, say, a relatively common Cord and offering a straight across swap for one of the exclusive vehicles from your current fleet?

            • There’s a guy in the area with a nice L-29 but I’m not convinced he’d properly appreciate any of my vehicles.

              • Rover 1

                Redundant use of the word ‘properly’ instead of ‘in any way possible’ noted.

                Top marks for brevity!

  • I’m jazzed about graphene batteries. If, you know, they can manage to figure them out. http://www.iflscience.com/technology/graphene-based-supercapacitors-could-eliminate-batteries-electric-cars-within-5-years/

  • ptschett

    I’m still on the no-replacement-for-displacement side with my current fleet, but the trend of downsized/turbocharged torquey little engines intrigues me.

    (And as a farmer’s kid who works for what’s primarily an agricultural equipment manufacturer, I selfishly wonder if those engines couldn’t do even better if they could be tuned for a higher-octane grade of fuel than currently available… say premium 91 and 30% ethanol, for an octane rating something like 100…)

  • crank_case

    Pedestrian avoidance systems. I’ve never hit a pedestrian but it can be a life changing experience for everyone involved, so if ticking that on the options list might mitigate that, it’s sort of a no-brainer. I actually wonder about these claims that full autonomy will drastically reduce accidents, everyones sort of ignoring that “normal” cars have increasingly sophisticated active safety features, so wheres this massive statistical jump in safety going to come from?

    The one caveat I’d add is that if it’s for a car that might see track time, such systems need to be able to be turned off to avoid unpredictable behaviour in a track environment.

  • P161911

    Considering that I rear ended someone a few weeks ago, the collision avoidance systems seem like a good idea to me.

  • SlowJoeCrow

    I’ve discovered that I really like Bluetooth integration, HD radio and backup cameras, now that my daily driver is a 21st century car. I can live without them and my local stations don’t actually have HD but when I’m traveling I do like the song title displays.