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Hooniverse Asks: What tech do you want to see incorporated into cars in the next 10 years?

Jeff Glucker January 9, 2018 Hooniverse Asks 48 Comments

CES is in full swing. It’s a tech showcase, but it’s also become a de facto starting point for automakers to announce forward-thinking concepts and production-ready features. Most of the buzz will be around autonomous advancements and electrified powertrains, but that might not be what interests you most. I mean, you’re here after all, aren’t you?

So my question for you is; What technology do you hope finds its way into automobiles within the next ten years? Be it powertrain based, safety related, or maybe you’re just into high-end audio… what do you want to see in a car in the very near future?

Also, this GIF is still the greatest thing this website has ever posted. It might be one of the earliest things we’ve posted as well.

  • crank_case

    I’m hoping the way cars are made fundamentally starts to change in the next 10 years. I think we’re reaching the limits of the “monocoque made from big pressed steel/aluminium panels” way of making cars and would like to see something more like Gordon Murrays iStream idea, where cars are made in small plants locally and cheaply, because cars need to get simpler and cheaper again. I’d also like to see cheaper composites – less weight = more fun.

    • outback_ute

      I doubt it, if it was cheaper the manufacturers would do it that way. It might be viable for very small run cars, as in cheaper than ‘conventional’ production, but not cheaper than mass-production cars. Otherwise it would only work for small markets with very low labour costs.

      • I think that the scale of steel operations is so huge that basically no other technology will catch up soon. I heard that the i8 and i3 are part of a ramp-up strategy for CF, a material never used in such a scale by BMW. So it seems to take 10 years for a manufacturer to go from zero to mass production grade for a material that is, in theory, well understood for decades.

        • Monkey10is

          Part of the problem as well is that carbon fibre has been an almost ‘artisanal’ material until recently; hand laying-up of fibre mats into bespoke moulds with small-batch curing. This was OK for small-run aeronautical applications, racecar monocoques and a handful of supercars but nowhere near the throughput needed for mass market vehicles — never mind the economics of it.
          There have been interesting attempts at mass production of complex CF shapes (remember the 3d knitting loom Lexus used for the A-pillars of the LF-A?) but the bigger step change seems more likely to come from optimising designs as much as possible around simple or commodified CF elements. A recent sports car — perhaps the Alfa 4C? — achieved a CF tub at a lower price point than ever before largely because much of the CF involved was an assembly of simple CF sheet rather than mouldings.

      • crank_case

        Yamaha will be using it soon, it’s kind of interesting that the first customer to use it, doesn’t have a foothold as an established car manufacturer. Existing manufacturers are really tied up in the model of big plants, in terms of factories and supply chain.

        Plus steel is a known quantity for crash tests. In some cases, the car manufacturers are part of larger industrial behemoths that are also steel producers.

        I think a car you can make economically in low volumes rather than having everything tied up in 5 year cycles may be the way to go.

        • neight428

          The regulatory compliance burden of auto manufacturing is huge. Really easy variations of existing vehicles are not produced due to this burden. Taking a big step out in materials would require a very patient and deep pocketed financing source.

        • Monkey10is

          Also remember the huge sunk costs already invested in steel presses; the dies may need changing each time a model is refreshed, but the press itself will go on for decades. Why invest millions in aluminium extruders or batch autoclaves for CFRP when you already own — and are probably still paying for — a big machine that can stamp out your full production run from steel or aluminium sheet? The same if you have a production line of robot welders — that’s a big disincentive from changing over to bonded assemblies.
          Relatively new (or dramatically scaling-up) car companies don’t have the legacy equipment so can afford to go all-in on more innovative techniques (McLaren for example).

          • I’ve seen the presses that kick out 1/3 of a Vanagon each cycle in the early 90ies. I hear they were replaced by bigger ones to stamp 1/2 T4 Eurovan each cycle mid-90ies (a weak spot of elderly T3 was the vertical welding right behind the front doors). Those presses are still in use I guess, the T6 doesn’t look too different under the shell.
            So the presses are planned for on a scale of 20+ years indeed (the pressing molds are swapped after x cycles, I guess). Im, um, pressive.
            (I would not be surprised if the old presses went to, say, South America and are still in use).

            For welding robots I have no idea how long they last. I guess you’d rather replace the electronics than hydraulics.

        • Good point about the crashing.

          And it’s not that steel presses are simple, the molds are high-tech, and expensive: even more money tied up. That crease in the door skin is probably a Master thesis of a mechanical engineer…

  • Andrew_theS2kBore

    Battery packs with 3-4 times the current power density. A real “electric sports car” isn’t going to be possible until you can get curb weights below 3000lb. Although the original Tesla Roadster was fun, it handled like a brick in a washing machine… but that level of power and throttle response in a 2500-2700lb package might put me off gasoline engines for good.

    • outback_ute

      Guess how much the original Tesla Roadster weighed?

      • Andrew_theS2kBore

        2900lb, in a platform that’s no longer legal to sell new in the US due to non-renewable safety exemptions running out. Based on the Alfa 4c’s trans-Atlantic weight gain, a 2017-compliant version of the roadster would be around 3150lb. I realize that train of thought was not well laid out in my original post.

        The other problem was that 990lb of that was in a battery pack that had to be packaged relatively high in the chassis, raising the CG and resulting in poor roll control and unpredictable transitions between under- and oversteer.

        • outback_ute

          Fair enough, I definitely see the flaws in the “who cares about weight, we have power and sticky tyres” concept that happens by default (I have a sub-1600lb car)

          • Andrew_theS2kBore

            Nice, sub-1600 is pretty rare even among older sports cars, what is it?

            • outback_ute

              Hillman Imp. The road car has a modified engine so just over 900cc, somewhere around 70 hp. Something like 2.5 turns lock to lock rack & pinion steering, revs to 7500 rpm or more. One of the closest things you will find to a road-legal go kart!

  • GTXcellent

    The tech already exists – I want Tweels damnit!

    • onrails

      I can see Tweels working for low speed applications, but until there’s a reliable way to get them to not be out of balance at speed with a little snow and mud plus especially have the required lateral, torsional, and rotational stiffness of the wheel/tire combination at all speeds then we’ll never be able to match what we’ve come to know and love as good steering, handling, and braking.

  • P161911

    A wiper switch that turns on the headlights too on all cars.

  • smalleyxb122

    Simplification of infotainment systems. A return of knobs and buttons for vehicle functions, and a universal(ish) smartphone dock or mirrored interface for entertainment.

    Wider implementation (trickle down) of magnetic ride shocks.

    Eye-tracking FLIR HUD for night driving?

    Flow cells.

  • Is it too much to ask that drinking fountains finally become standard equipment?



    • Alff

      I’d like a matching fresh fruit dispenser.

  • Fred
    • smalleyxb122

      “Two more years”

    • I suppose it doesn’t help to point out that movie was released 57 years ago.

      • What do you mean, “movie”?

        • Sorry, I should have been more specific: documentary.

  • Alff

    Chromed steel bumpers and grilles.

  • tonyola
  • Rudy™

    How about we just drop all the distracting electronic crap in the cars, and go back to basics? Wouldn’t that be novel? Everyone’s got such a hard-on for autonomous vehicles (which IMHO will be an epic failure after billions are spent to find out they are deadly, or simply don’t work) that they’re losing sight of the simplicity that most drivers want in a car. I should be able to get into anything in seconds and drive it, not spend ten minutes inside looking for the basics before I can even move it out of Park (like I did this past summer with a rental).

    • outback_ute

      Yep, if you can’t work out the “user interface” without looking up the manual, it is not designed that well.

  • SlowJoeCrow

    Working turn signals in BMW cars? Seriously I don’t think we need more tech in cars as much as we need to see the tech better applied. More efficient design and in the US a move away from crossovers and pickups back to smaller more sensibly sized vehicles and more fun to drive vehicles.

  • Several posters mention UI issues, and they are right. 150 functions need 150 input elements, be it physical or SW. Some of these are standard (wipers and indicators, e.g.), some are over-designed (how many options do you need for ventilation and AC?), and some are ridiculous.
    Simplicity is nice, but when you want (not “need”) three zone AC, and three settings for throttle response, damping, ride height, both manual and automatic control of the same function (wipers, lights, gearbox, AC) you have to bite the bullet.
    I can change the volume of the stereo by three buttons in the car, and for phone calls two more on the phone.

    • Alff

      It’s easier to provide controls that are varied and appropriate to the function when there are fewer functions. That’s really what I’d like to see available, low-tech versions of my favorite vehicles. I don’t anticipate OEMs will cater to my off-trend whim, though.

    • crank_case

      With EVs, this is already possible if you leave them plugged in overnight

  • Zentropy

    The only tech I truly appreciate in my car is electric windows and fuel injection. I could care less if my driving environment included anything more advanced than that. Give me RWD, a true manual, and tuned pipes, and I’m satisfied.

  • Alff

    Headlights that stretch to the C-pillar.

    • neight428

      You have a job at Cadillac waiting for you, sir.

  • robbydegraff

    would love some sort of super-efficient “car warm-up” feature for when it gets freezing cold. Like, maybe starts at all cylinders and then after operating temps warm up a bit, drop down to just a few to keep some heat going.

    Flexible roof racks would be excellent, I can imagine a roof rack with cross bars and rails, that had fold-up/flip-up holders for kayaks or canoes, that way you could in essence “stow” them when not in use.

  • onrails

    The EV infrastructure is what has me most intrigued. How much, where, and how fast? And where’s the energy coming from?

    • neight428

      St. Elon, natch.

      I’m sure someone has run the math on the volume of odd minerals that would be required to replace the ICE engine fleet with battery powered electrics, but for whatever reason, they don’t seem to talk about it much. The redeployment of industrial effort would be horrendously expensive.

  • Please bring back wing vents, sometimes called wing windows. One of the most funtional and worthwhile engineering element to ever grace an automobile. Perfect for fair weather.

  • AnamDuine

    If we are ever able to merge North American and European standards, let’s make in-cabin headlight height adjustment the norm. Very useful, especially for anything capable of towing. We are finally getting hill start assist on manuals. Make that “standard”. It makes stick cars accessible to more people, and makes the car friendlier to a guest driver who is not a pro at hill starts.