Whilst car performance and handling has remained relatively unchanged since ten years ago, we have seen improvements and radical changes in several key areas including safety, fuel economy and of course electronics.
The emergence of electric goods
In the 90’s you would have been lucky to have a digital display dash board (unless of course you had a Mitsubishi GTO). Probably unlucky in fact, as analogue dash boards and tachometers tended to be clearer and more accurate. In the iPad-age however, things are changing. We are starting to see much more colourful LCD panel dash boards as well as sat-nav systems controlling various aspects of your car, especially in high-end models. Pioneering manufacturers have introduced electronically controlled suspension such as ‘Magnetic Ride’ as well as night vision and automatic parking technology.
The advantage of software
Software’s increasing integration into the automotive world is increasingly clear in the electric car market. Think of the possibilities! We thought ECU mapping of fuel injection modules to enhance performance and fuel economy was good when compared to old-fashioned carburettor tuning. However think of the possibility of programming your electric motor, throttle response and suspension directly, instantly. Tuning wise, Maplins would become the new Halfords. Your Ipad would become your dash board. Oh wait, it already has.
The Honda Micro Commuter
Honda are now testing a small electric car which is synchronised to a tablet, although they haven’t specified which tablet. The tablet acts as a dashboard as well as performing many other functions, slotting in front of the driver. It can act as a screen for a rear view camera, as well as showing a variety of vehicle statistics, as well as acting as a sat nav.
The micro-commuter will be categorized as a quadricycle, meaning that it weighs under 400kg without batteries and can be driven (albeit at high car insurance prices) by 16 year olds. The motor, chassis and batteries all sit under the floor meaning that there is an easy platform to change the bodywork around, allowing for different models to be built cheaply and efficiently.
This is the first step in the integration of two of most people’s prized and most used items – their car and their phone. Where phones and tablets have come to dominate work and social life, we may well see them turning into part of your transport. Whether acting as a car key, dashboard, sat nav or tuning module, software developers will no doubt be excited by the unlimited possibilities arising from such new developments