Disappearing car kit

By Daniel Gardner, 02 May 2017 Car Advice

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Disappearing car kit

First it was the starting handle, then it was the cold-start choke. Which features will disappear next in the cars of tomorrow?

As vehicle technology becomes increasingly advanced and reliable, longstanding features that have been commonplace in cars for years are gradually being made redundant.

Go back to the origin of the motor car and all manner of critical controls were left up to the driver including ignition timing adjustment, hand signals for other road users and even the elbow grease necessary to get the engine started.

Things are very different now though and technology is continuing to supersede ageing tech. Here’s a look at some car features that could be on their way out.

Gauges

A majority of drivers wouldn’t know the correct operating temperature of engine coolant under normal circumstances, what pressure the oil should be or how many volts the charging system should maintain so what’s the point in bombarding the driver with all that superfluous information?

Most manufacturers are realising that you only really need to know about the critical systems when something goes awry and that a simple warning light will suffice in most circumstances.

Expect to see cleaner and tidier dashboards as gauge readouts are buried deep in electronic menus and replaced with blinking lamps.

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CD player

With the rise of electronic music sales and transfer, the decline of the humble compact disc is already in full swing and the various car makers have spotted a potential cost, space and weight saver for new models.

A simple USB and auxiliary socket allows occupants to listen to music from electronic devices such as phones and USB drives, while Bluetooth technology allows the same without a physical connection at all. Internet connectivity is also allowing direct music streaming into cabins.

Just as the cassette deck went west some years ago, fewer cars are now offered with a CD player, particularly cars targeted at a younger audience.

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Switches

Dipping headlights, turning on the windscreen wipers and applying the park brake all used to be a part of day-to-day driving regardless of which car you owned, but with more intelligent vehicle and environmental monitoring systems, all of these tasks can be handed over to the car.

As voice activation, touchscreens and gesture controls become more sophisticated and intuitive, more and more switches and buttons will be disappearing from your car’s interior.

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Manual gearboxes

Australians already favour automatic transmissions over the manual gearbox by a vast majority and the trend is not slowing.

The handful of driving purists that still opt for the traditional self-serve may not be enough for the various car makers to continue offering manuals within their ranks forever.

Most dual-clutch autos and torque converters now offer steering wheel paddles for independence of manual gear selection and it’s also worth considering that there is no such thing as a manual electric car.

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Full-size spare wheel

In the constant pursuit of weight reduction and space maximisation, car manufacturers are increasingly replacing full-sized spare wheels with special slimline space-saver versions that occupy less boot space and can reduce overall vehicle weight, which in turn has a beneficial effect on fuel consumption.

Removing the spare wheel altogether is also becoming a more popular option with only a special tyre sealant and air compressor kit to help you out on the side of the road if you get a flat.

Solid tyres and run-flat rubber are two other relatively new areas of development that could remove the need for any puncture repair equipment in the vehicles of the future.

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Real leather

Sticky, sweaty vinyl used to be the only alternative to real animal hide, but there are now a number of convincing alternatives that don’t require Daisy to make the ultimate sacrifice.

The various car makers have their own brand names such as Sensatec, Artico and Maztex to name a few imitation leathers as well as suede alternatives including the well-known Alcantara.

In many cases, the man-made versions are more durable, more consistent in quality than a natural material and cheaper to produce, which makes the business case easy for car makers with only the high-end models and brands expected to stick with traditional leather.

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Cigarette lighter

Smoking is bad for you. Didn’t you know? Car manufacturers are helping you live longer by deleting the once-standard ash tray and electric cigarette lighter from the 12-volt socket in favour of a blanking plug and accessory tray.

With a strong demand for electrical device charging, the remaining 12-volt socket still has plenty of life in it.

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Incandescent globes

The person responsible for inventing the blue light emitting diode (LED), Shuji Nakamura was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics in 2014 because it allowed the subsequent development of white LEDs.

The energy-saving potential of white LEDs has enormous global implications and these advantages are rapidly proliferating in vehicle development. Some models have already made the transition to LED lighting from halogen or xenon headlights, also encompassing interior illumination and LED interior screens. Other brands are sure to follow suit.

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You

It may sound like an ominous view of a distant future but with the advent of autonomous cars, even the driver may be a thing of the past.

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