RAC

Why join RAC?
After 116 years, RAC has more motoring experience than any other Breakdown organisation
We were voted Best Overall Vehicle Insurance Provider at the Personal Finance Awards 2010/11
Enjoy great member benefits

Blog

The latest technology and gadgets coming to your car

08 Aug 2013 at 15:23

Car manufacturers are continually striving to improve their products, adding more technology and gadgets in a bid to drive more sales. For motorists, this can only be a good thing: cars become safer, more efficient and easier to drive.

So what are the latest future car technologies features and gadgets that will save you time, effort and money on your next car? Here are the top five features that you may see sooner rather than later:

Autonomous driving

Lots of money is going into the development of autonomous driving systems. The next generation of luxury saloons will be able to actually make lane changes themselves and automatically use the accelerator and brake to either keep up with faster vehicles, or react to slower moving traffic in a queue.

They still require your hands to be on the wheel to do it, but there are some systems that have proved cars can lap a race track almost as quickly as a racing driver. This functionality can be transferred to everyday use, too – many companies have also experimented with ‘road trains’ using a ‘follow the leader’ system.

Connected services

Many modern cars already offer the ability to hook up your smartphone to your infotainment system, utilising its mobile data connection to provide social media and more.

Web searches scoping out your intended destination for things to do is just one benefit, with some car companies already trialling systems which actually find empty parking spaces, identify the charge and then take you to your chosen bay.

Integration with your mobile device also means you’ll be able to turn your car on in the morning (mainly with electric vehicles at the moment, but potentially combustion-engined cars in the future) to pre-heat the cabin and turn on the heated seats for a frosty winter morning. It’ll also help the dealer keep track of how your car is performing, alerting them to a problem as it develops to reduce mechanical failures and therefore repair costs.

Multi-speed gearboxes

Some modern automatic gearboxes already feature eight or even nine speeds. In a bid to further quell carbon emissions, manufacturers are looking to add yet more ratios to their transmissions. Yes, cars are going to get even more gears.

This will mean the powertrain can be optimised for efficiency, allowing the gearbox to change to the most efficient gear as soon as possible. It keeps the engine at lower revs, helping fuel economy and CO2 emissions, but it can aid performance, too.

For example, when the driver presses the accelerator, the gearbox can select the perfect gear for the burst of acceleration required. It’s reported some car companies are already working on a 10-speed system.

Cylinder deactivation

Emissions laws are driving improvements in fuel economy across the globe, but car companies are still managing to produce more powerful yet less polluting cars.

Some manufacturers are doing this by shutting down half an engine’s cylinders when they’re not needed. If you ask for full power again, they’ll fire up and you’ll have a seamless transition to maximum performance.

This means when you’re cruising along in town in big V8-engined car, it will only run on four cylinders, making it much more economical. The technology is set to make its way onto everyday vehicles in the near future.

Active safety systems

Huge research and development budgets have been directed at improving vehicle safety in recent years, with plenty of cars now boasting technology that can sense an object in front of you (be it a slow or stationary car, or a pedestrian).

Further to this, the vehicle can actually apply the brakes within a certain speed range if it senses an impending crash – this will avoid or mitigate the impacts of any potential collision.

Along with efficiency, this is a key area of development in the automotive industry, so expect to see these features filter down to the most basic models, with new developments such as pedestrian airbags and more energy absorbent materials used in the construction of the latest vehicles.

What features, gadgets and technology would you like to see on your next car? Do you have an idea for the next big thing that could take the car market by storm, or what system would make your life behind the wheel easier?

Leave a comment below to start the debate, or tweet to us @RAC_Breakdown. You can also join in the discussion on Facebook – just search for ‘RAC’ to like our page.