The Auto Industry certainly doesn’t stand still. Car companies are always investing and developing new technologies to improve the safety, value and efficiency of their vehicles.
Here are three interesting innovations that consumers can expect to see more of in the coming year.
Electronic Stability Control
The Federal Government has mandated that all 2012 models under 10,000 pounds use Electronic Stability Control (ESC.)
ESC is a computerized technology that detects loss of steering control. This design helps drivers maintain control of their vehicles on slippery roads. The brakes are automatically applied to help steer the car or truck where the driver intends to go. Braking is automatically applied to wheels individually, so the brake is applied to the outer front wheel to counter oversteer or the inner rear wheel to counter understeer.
Some ESC systems may also reduce engine power until control is regained.
According to a study done by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, one-third of fatal accidents could have been prevented by the technology. The technology has reduced the risk of fatal single-vehicle crashes by half, according to IIHS.
Inflatable Seat Belts
Ford Motor Company introduced inflatable seat belts, which debuted in the 2011 Explorer for rear-seat passengers. They combine the features of traditional seat belts with those of airbags.
The inflatable seat belts also can be used with children's car seats and booster seats.
“Ford’s rear inflatable seat belt technology will enhance safety for rear seat passengers of all ages, especially for young children who are more vulnerable in crashes,” said Sue Cischke, Ford group vice president of Sustainability, Environment and Safety Engineering. “This is another unique family technology that builds on our safety leadership, including the most top safety ratings of any automaker.”
In everyday use, the inflatable belts operate like conventional seat belts and are safe and compatible with infant and children safety car and booster seats. The plan is eventually for Ford to offer the inflatable seat belt technology in vehicles globally.
Hybrid owners are familiar with this start-stop technology, but now car companies are looking at expanding its use because the technology is a great way to improve a vehicles fuel economy by up to 10 percent.
Start-Stop technology conserves energy and fuel by shutting off the gasoline engine when the vehicle is at rest – at traffic lights for example – and then automatically restarting it when the driver hits the gas pedal.
Adding it to purely internal combustion cars isn’t expensive for manufacturers and the feature adds a lot of value. A recent report released in 2010 by Lux Research, a technology consulting company, estimated that by 2015 4.6 million cars in the United States would feature the technology.
Let us know what other automotive technology you find interesting.