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Throughout The Car Industry

Next-Generation Technologies are Here and Affordable

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On: Wed, Jul 17, 2013 at 3:20PM | By: Chris Weiss

Next-Generation Technologies are Here and Affordable

Cars are advancing more and more, from "dumb machines" that use basic mechanical components to propel you through space, to much smarter devices that monitor and interact with their environments and even chaffeur you around. Over the past few years, we've seen the introduction of automated technologies that will one day underpin the self-driving car. While some of these technologies are still in the prototype stages, and some only available on expensive luxury cars, a bulk have moved into mainstream territory. Edmunds reports that many car technologies are now affordable for the average car consumer.

"We’re just now seeing the first generation of some mind-blowing car technology that will simplify all of our lives," saysEdmunds.comConsumer Advice Editor Ronald Montoya. "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."

Edmunds cites a variety of technologies that are offered on mainstream vehicles, including in-car Wi-Fi on the Ram 1500 and upcoming GM vehicles, the easy tire-fill alert system on the 2014 Nissan Altima, and automated parking assist features on Ford and Toyota vehicles.

Infotainment and connectivity have also contributed greatly toward increasing technology in mainstream cars. Because features like Internet radio and social media appeal more to younger, entry level buyers, automakers have made an effort to include these types of features in cheaper, lower level cars. Edmunds cites Chrysler's Uconnect Access as an example, but it makes a poor example because this system initially launched on niche vehicles like the Ram 1500 and SRT Viper. A better example is Ford SYNC, which is available on a wide variety of vehicles, including standard on the $14,000 2014 Fiesta.

Industry insiders have estimated that a working car that can drive itself is only about five to 10 years away. In the meantime, cars will continue to take over more and more tasks from the driver. Both Audi and Volvo are developing self-parking systems that allow the driver to pull up to the entrance of a parkway and be on his merry way. The cars can find an empty spot and park themselves with help from onboard sensors and communications with the parking lot's computer system.

Edmunds discusses a few other vehicle technologies here.


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