For the Auto Industry, the Future is Now


Detroit Free Press

Tech­nol­ogy that saves lives – and fuel – is get­ting bet­ter and cheaper and more avail­able, and not just for high-end lux­ury vehi­cles anymore.

Get the details on life-saving tech­nol­ogy that is here and now.

Cam­eras that check around the car for pedes­tri­ans. Radar that stops you from drift­ing out of your lane. An engine able to turn off auto­mat­i­cally at traf­fic lights to con­serve fuel.

Tech­nol­ogy that saves lives — and fuel — is get­ting bet­ter and cheaper. That means it’s no longer con­fined to lux­ury brands like Mer­cedes and Volvo. It’s show­ing up in main­stream vehi­cles like the Nis­san Rogue and Ford Fusion.

“What we see today as slightly elit­ist tech­nol­ogy is chang­ing very, very fast,” said Steven Lunn, chief oper­at­ing offi­cer for TRW Auto­mo­tive, which sup­plies elec­tron­ics and other parts to carmakers.

TRW says its newest radar is a quar­ter of the price of the model it sold 10 years ago. Its cam­eras are smaller and cheaper, too, mak­ing it eas­ier to put mul­ti­ple ones on each car.

High-tech options can still cost a few thou­sand dol­lars more, but those costs will come down as tech­nol­ogy improves and automak­ers add them to more and more vehicles.

Here are some up-and-coming fea­tures that dri­vers can expect on their next cars:

  • Col­li­sion warn­ing with auto­matic braking
  • Advanced cam­eras
  • Lane Cen­ter­ing
  • Adap­tive headlights
  • Stop-start

By 2025, new cars and trucks sold in the U.S. will have to aver­age 54.5 miles per gal­lon of gaso­line, up from the cur­rent 30.8 mpg. One fea­ture will almost be a must-have: A stop-start device that shuts off the engine at a stop light and auto­mat­i­cally turns it on when the dri­ver releases the brake.

Alex Moli­naroli, a vice pres­i­dent with John­son Con­trols, which makes bat­ter­ies that power the sys­tems, esti­mates they raise gas mileage by a min­i­mum of 5%.