A World of Potential: The Possibilities All Car Manufacturers Should Explore
Updated October 25, 2013
There are certain safety and performance components that modern Americans couldn’t imagine living without. From seatbelts and airbags to anti-lock brakes and power steering, these are all innovations that many overlook, but would sorely miss if they disappeared. In a response to the country’s increasing dependence on oil, and a push to create eco-conscious vehicles, many manufacturers are now working tirelessly to create cars that utilize alternative energy sources without compromising their aesthetic appeal and performance. For many, this simply isn’t enough, and there is still plenty of room for improvement. Here are a few of the potential vehicle improvements on the horizon, and why in many respects manufacturers are further away than most people think.
Hydrogen Powered Car
Way back in 2003, former President Bush declared to the nation that the only solution for America’s overwhelming dependence on foreign oil lie within hydrogen power. For well over a decade, many scientists and manufacturers worked to make this a possibility, but no major improvements have been made in this realm for several years. The reason for this stall is possibly two-fold. One, the technology is potentially flawed beyond practicality. Many believe the price of the technology and a few key logistical aspects of the design, including where to store the liquid fuel and issues with battery durability, make it impractical. The second is the current administration’s policy of moving away from hydrogen technology in favor of more desirable projects. Whatever the case, hydrogen energy is still a viable solution, and one that will hopefully gain momentum again in the future.
For several decades, industrious homeowners have realized the benefits and possibilities that lie within solar energy. When it comes to implementing this technology in your grocery getter, things become far more complicated. Several manufacturers, most notably Toyota, are harnessing solar energy to power certain vehicle components, including the air conditioner, head lights, interior lights and audio system. It would seem logical the next step is to power an entire vehicle solely with solar energy. Unfortunately, the reality is far more complicated, and one of the main obstacles standing between you and a solar powered family car is the price, weight and one key limitation: the constant requirement for sun exposure. Expect the first solar powered vehicle to run at least $1 million, and anything cheaper will most definitely be an odd-looking one-seater. Believe it or not, a solar powered vehicle would also require constant exposure to the sun to remain running, rendering your vehicle worthless at night or on a cloudy day.
A New Level of Communication
How many times have you rushed through a yellow light only to be sideswiped by an equally overzealous driver? This is an all too common reality that many manufacturers are attempting to make a non-issue by constructing vehicles with the ability to talk to one another. This technology would allow cars to wirelessly send certain information, including their speed, location and direction, back and forth to one another. This would allow you to keep a safe distance from the vehicles around you, and potentially prevent any number of unnecessary accidents. The cost efficiency of this “preemptive vehicle assistance” is currently being studied by car manufacturers and the United States government.
The Future of Airbags
Aside from seatbelts, no other safety feature has saved more lives than airbags. According to The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, air bags have saved the lives of over 28,000 since 1998, and the combination of a properly-fitted seat belt and air bag reduces the risk of death by around 61 percent. In their present incarnation, air bags are considered a “passive” safety feature, or those that help passengers avoid injury or simply survive an accident. Many car manufacturers, including Mercedes-Benz, are working toward making air bags an “active’ safety feature, meaning they will actually prevent a crash from occurring. Mercedes is actively attempting to affix airbags to certain points of the car, which when activated will prevent a car collision from occurring, or at least lessen the impact. Once again, there are no vehicles fitted with this technology, although this active safety feature could become a possibility within the next 10 to 15 years.
The aforementioned technologies aren’t quite ready for mass production, but there are others ways to make your car as safe as possible. The components available to keep you and your family safe on the road.
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