The Best Automotive Technology Updates of 2019
We’re rapidly running out of 2019, but it has been a notable year in the world of motoring. Here is a roundup of the more significant trends
Almost 10% of cars sold to date in the UK this year have some form of electric propulsion. That’s everything from mild hybrid and plug-in hybrid to full EV with no internal combustion engine at all. This means the car-buying public is becoming more accepting of electric cars, and over the next 12 months we’ll see this figure increase with additional electric models becoming available.
Many of those due to hit the market soon will be smaller and therefore more affordable which will only bolster the number of EVs on our roads. Some, like Volkswagens ID.3 and the Honda e, won’t even be offered with an internal combustion engine as an option.
Mirrors replaced by camera systems
Use of technology throughout vehicles is increasing too and we are now seeing camera systems replacing mirrors for the first time on production models. Yes, we’re used to parking cameras but now door mirrors are replaced by cameras and screens as an option on Audi’s e-tron and the forthcoming Honda e. Replacing a large exterior mirror with a tiny camera helps reduce drag and opens up new ways to design exteriors. It’s not just door mirrors; the ClearSight rear view mirror available in Jaguars and Land Rovers is now flickable between optical mirror and screen showing a wide-angle image.
There are huge strides in the technology you can’t see and much of this concerns vehicle safety. This is improving all the time and Volvo, for example, now offers oncoming lane mitigation, bringing your car back in-lane should you drift over the line into oncoming traffic. Cars are now becoming better at identifying hazards too, with some vehicles able to decipher whether an object in its path is a pedestrian, cyclist or even medium to large animal.
Anyone who hasn’t driven a car with the latest adaptive cruise control might be surprised how ‘clever’ cars can be; use the indicator on some BMW and Mercedes-Benz models while using the cruise control, for example, and the car will change lane for you on a multi-lane road.
However, while we have seen autonomous concept cars such as the Audi AI:TRAIL at the Frankfurt motor show - without steering wheels and dashboards - cars which are fully (level 5) autonomous are still some way off due to the crippling complexity of the outside world.
Information is the next big thing for vehicles and one of the key areas for development is car-to-anything connectivity. Many manufacturers are pushing to use 5G which would allow the transmission of considerable volumes of data and should be able to support around a million devices within each square kilometre (rather than around 4,000 for 4G).
Drivers may simply wish to navigate or stream music but car-to-car tech will help reduce accidents and ease traffic congestion. Of course insurers already use telematics to gather information on driving styles on certain types of policies.
It will be an industry game change too, with automotive manufacturers becoming considerable telecoms players. This technology development and its use won’t come free so they will have to decide how best to monetise the increased services being offered.
Elon Musk's Tesla Cybertruck
And just when
we thought we’d seen the shape of 2019, Elon Musk revealed his Tesla
Cybertruck, an oddly retro vision of the future. It’s easy to mock - and many
have taken to social media to just that - but there is some sense to the Cybertruck.
Yes, it’s outrageous but simple, flat panels mean lower cost manufacturing,
all-electric fits with many people’s view of the future and it shows we really
are just limited by our imaginations.
About the Author
Andrew is a freelance motoring journalist with a background in IT and the vehicle leasing industry. With a lifetime’s passion for all things automotive, he can be found behind the wheel of everything from vans to supercars. In addition to reviewing the latest vehicles and technology, Andrew also runs a couple of classic British motors. He lives at the edge of the Peak District with his son and cat.
Andrew Wright @theMotorWriter