The automotive industry has been on a wild ride since Henry Ford first rolled out his horseless carriages. Here, we discuss a few of the changes that have occurred in the last decade.
First, standard gasoline is no longer the only game in town. There are alternative fuel options to fossil fuels, and there is demand for them to become more widely available, though not all alternative fuels are created equal, and each comes with their own set of issues. Ethanol is an alcohol-based fuel that is made from wheat or corn. With both corn and wheat being subsidized by the government, this is a really viable option. Another very popular fuel option is electricity, such as in the Chevy Volt. Methanol, a wood-based alcohol fuel, is one example of an alternative fuel that was around for awhile before automobile manufacturers stopped making cars that used it. Last is biodiesel; made from vegetable fats. Some forms of biodiesel are even made from recycled restaurant oils, making this a super efficient, if not high-quantity, alternative fuel.
Hands off: Manual Transmissions fading out
Another interesting change is the fact that manual transmission vehicles are ostensibly on their way out. Less than 3% of the cars sold in 2016 were manual transmissions, making this type of vehicle the purvey of an older generation. In general, automatics get better mileage than they used to. In addition, people rely heavily on public transportation. The younger generation, who increasingly are opting away from vehicles altogether, are also favoring automatic transmissions.
Driverless cars are becoming more popular, though far from mainstream. While once the driverless car seemed as distant a goal as the flying car, it might happen easily in the next ten years or so. Driverless cars are already on the road nationwide. Here is a video of one navigating heavy pedestrian traffic in Vegas. There are still problems, but they’re getting safer all the time as the engineering improves.
The Internet of Things
Internet of Things, or IoT, is a network of actual physical devices, like your toaster, heater, hairdryer, and home alarm system. In this new web of connections, everything can talk to everything else. According to Wikipedia, IoT is “creating opportunities for more direct integration of the physical world into computer-based systems, resulting in efficiency improvements, economic benefits and reduced human intervention.”
Cars as computers
Elon Tesla once famously said: “Tesla is a software company as much as it is a hardware company...We view this as updating your phone or laptop.” In the Silicon Valley, Musk and his team of ingenious creatives at Tesla work tirelessly to create bleeding age automotive vehicles that are “sophisticated computers on wheels.”
As always, D & K Automotive stays on top of industry trends and makes sure our technicians have up-to-the-minute training on all the latest developments and new ways of doing auto repair. Swing by our shop today to get your vehicle repaired and maintained!