DETROIT (WWJ) – The future has arrived early for car buyers, now that vehicles with such features as automated parking and Wi-Fi hotspots are already a reality. And according to Edmunds.com, these new car technologies are available – and affordable – to most mainstream drivers a lot sooner than they might have expected.
“We’re just now seeing the first generation of some mind-blowing car technology that will simplify all of our lives,” Ronald Montoya, Edmunds.com Consumer Advice Editor, said in a statement. “But what’s even more remarkable is that automakers are quickly pushing these technologies into high-volume production vehicles, so you don’t have to pay an extreme price tag to get a taste of the latest and greatest innovations.”
Some of the technologies available now or in the very near future include:
· Piloted Parking – Ford and Toyota sell vehicles that can steer themselves into a parking space with the driver manipulating the gas and brake pedals. Now Audi is developing a “piloted parking” technology that lets you leave the car running at a drop-off area in a specially designated parking lot, where you choose an open space with a smartphone app and let the car do all the work. The vehicle will use its Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) cameras to navigate the lot and park itself in the pre-determined space.
· Easy-Fill Tire Alert – Properly inflating your tires is the easiest way to save gas and minimize vehicle wear and tear. The 2013 Nissan Altima makes it easier to maintain air pressure in your tires. Just connect the air tube to the tire, and the Easy-Fill Tire Alert will chirp the horn once the tire pressure reaches the recommended setting. The alert also works when a driver lets the air out of an overfilled tire.
· Wi-Fi Hotspots – Chrysler currently offers a $505 Uconnect Access upgrade to the 2013 Ram 1500’s infotainment system. The package adds a Sprint 3G cellular modem, which provides a Wi-Fi hotspot for multiple devices up to 150 feet away. Uconnect Access will also be available on the 2013 SRT Viper and the more affordable 2014 Jeep Cherokee. And by 2015, General Motors plans to equip most of its models with a 4G LTE modem that will also provide even faster WiFi hotspots.
· Hydrophobic Windows – A steady downpour can make it difficult to see out of your car. But what if the drops just beaded up and slid right off the car’s windows? This technology is already available on the specially-treated side windows of the 2014 Kia Cadenza. The technology improves visibility in rainy weather and makes for easier drying after the car is washed.