05 Jul Latest in Automotive industry electronics
The automotive industry is experiencing rapid change. Between the pressure to reduce emissions and the pressure to equip cars with more safety technology, comes the challenge of consumers expecting their cars to do more.
All the while, manufacturers are having to increase car prices nominally to actually sell them. This is eating into their profit margin and is one of the reasons why manufacturers not just in Europe but around the world are struggling.
As consumers, however, we get the lucky straw – that is, more electronics to enjoy and greater safety technologies. In this article, we’ll cover the latest in automotive electronics and some of the technologies emerging.
The latest in electronics is fully electric cars and hybrids.
A very simple electric vehicle can have as few as three moving components. The power source is a battery pack, which feeds electric motors. If the motors are on the front wheels, the car is front-wheel drive. If they are on the rear, the car is rear-wheel drive, and if they’re on all four, the car is four-wheel drive.
The charging infrastructure for electric cars is nowhere near enough to serve everyone, but it is getting better and batteries are too. Most electric cars made today can charge from zero to 80% in 40 minutes at a 50kWh station.
Then there’s hybrids and plug-in hybrid vehicles.. These are interesting because they address the range and charging concerns consumers have about fully electric cars. They aren’t as clean because they still use fossil fuel, but the fact they use fossil fuel makes them a more convenient choice for more people.
Plug-in hybrids are more efficient than hybrids, because they have a bigger battery pack which enables the vehicle to drive on electric power alone for longer. However, hybrids do not need charging, making them more flexible.
Safety technologies are taking centre stage, with car manufacturers being forced to integrate and develop new systems to compete with other manufacturers and meet the EU’s automotive safety directive.
These technologies include:
Adaptive Cruise Control – which keeps you from the car in front by a safe distance. Some systems also have auto stop and go, which means the car will come to a stop for you and set off again when the car in front moves off.
Lane Keep Assist – this system steers you back into your lane if it detects you are straying out of line. Most systems also have Lane Departure Alert, where the steering wheel vibrates, or an audible warning is given, if you stray.
Pre-collision braking – this system brakes for you if it detects an imminent collision and you do not react. It is designed to help reduce frontal impacts or avoid them completely. It can be quite intrusive but works most of the time.
Rear Cross Traffic Alert – this system prevents accidents in which you reverse without seeing a vehicle approaching behind you. It can detect vehicles approaching from behind at speeds up to 18mph, so you have time to brake and stop.