LA Auto Show Report: 9 Futuristic Features Hitting the Road

LA Auto Show Report: 9 Futuristic Features Hitting the Road

Each car show has its own personality. Geneva is all about supercars and speed. Paris is about quirk and French flair. Tokyo’s auto unveils are cute and smart, and Detroit still has American muscle covered.

Los Angeles is a city that runs on rubber, so the auto show here is especially relevant to its residents—they want to see how car makers can make their commutes less sucky. Or at least more flashy. And as we start the transition from a world dominated by individually owned vehicles and enter a brave new business model of Mobility as a Service, driving isn’t all about being behind the wheel any more: We’re more likely to be rear-seat passengers in ride-share cars, or even recline in robo taxis. So our favorite features to debut at the LA Auto Show this year are less about horsepower and handling and more about things your car can do for you to make your life better.

01

Cars You Don’t Really Own

The way you buy a car in the future is going to change. Long term, you may choose to just hail a passing autonomous taxi when you need one. Shorter term, car companies are trying to make it easier to sign on the dotted line. Volvo used the introduction of its 2019 XC40 smaller SUV as a chance to also debut Care by Volvo. The idea is that you’d make just one monthly payment (of around $600) to the company to cover the car, your insurance, maintenance, service, and just about anything else except gas. Isn’t that caring? Also, a startup called Fair is talking up its leasing app, which allows drivers to terminate their agreement at any time, instead of committing to 36 months.

newspress

The way you buy a car in the future is going to change. Long term, you may choose to just hail a passing autonomous taxi when you need one. Shorter term, car companies are trying to make it easier to sign on the dotted line. Volvo used the introduction of its 2019 XC40 smaller SUV as a chance to also debut Care by Volvo. The idea is that you’d make just one monthly payment (of around $600) to the company to cover the car, your insurance, maintenance, service, and just about anything else except gas. Isn’t that caring? Also, a startup called Fair is talking up its leasing app, which allows drivers to terminate their agreement at any time, instead of committing to 36 months.

02

Car Companies That Are Energy Companies

Car companies don’t want to be called that any more. They’re “mobility” or “energy” companies. Tesla in particular has always been big on pushing green energy, and is using its stand at the LA Auto Show to showcase its solar panels and home energy storage batteries as well as its electric cars. Mercedes is also showing a shiny plastic-wrapped home battery about the size of a large microwave. It soaks up energy while the sun shines, so you can see at night. 

tesla

Car companies don’t want to be called that any more. They’re “mobility” or “energy” companies. Tesla in particular has always been big on pushing green energy, and is using its stand at the LA Auto Show to showcase its solar panels and home energy storage batteries as well as its electric cars. Mercedes is also showing a shiny plastic-wrapped home battery about the size of a large microwave. It soaks up energy while the sun shines, so you can see at night. 

03

A Very Electric Future

Electric cars are very much a thing, and most of the big manufacturers showed a battery-powered concept or production car. VW now has three funky, retro, electric vehicles: the I.D, the I.D Buzz, and now the I.D Crozz SUV. Jaguar showed its I-Pace all-electric concept, due for production soon. And Silicon Valley startup Lucid gave rides in a prototype of its Tesla challenger, the Air, on the streets around the Los Angeles Convention Center.

LUCID AIR

Electric cars are very much a thing, and most of the big manufacturers showed a battery-powered concept or production car. VW now has three funky, retro, electric vehicles: the I.D, the I.D Buzz, and now the I.D Crozz SUV. Jaguar showed its I-Pace all-electric concept, due for production soon. And Silicon Valley startup Lucid gave rides in a prototype of its Tesla challenger, the Air, on the streets around the Los Angeles Convention Center.

04

Virtual Reality Is Very Real

Experiencing strange visions and seeing floating objects that aren’t really there may not sound ideal when you’re driving, but virtual and augmented reality are making their way into cars and garages. Honda is using, wait for it, HondaLens to walk potential buyers through the features of its new Accord, by making the controls and even the engine float midair in bright colors. Meanwhile, Swiss company WayRay was named the winner of the Automobility LA (the tech trade show attached to the auto show) Automotive Startups Competition for its holographic displays for navigation systems.

NEWSPRESS

Experiencing strange visions and seeing floating objects that aren’t really there may not sound ideal when you’re driving, but virtual and augmented reality are making their way into cars and garages. Honda is using, wait for it, HondaLens to walk potential buyers through the features of its new Accord, by making the controls and even the engine float midair in bright colors. Meanwhile, Swiss company WayRay was named the winner of the Automobility LA (the tech trade show attached to the auto show) Automotive Startups Competition for its holographic displays for navigation systems.

05

The Money’s in the Merchandise

When you’re driven to work by a robot chauffeur, you’re going to have a lot more time to read the newspaper or learn a language. Or (more realistically) browse social media and consume advertisements. Brands are already figuring out ways to make you notice the businesses around you, with plans to flash up the nearest coffee shop or oil change center on the giant screens that will fill cars. But Nissan is taking crossover promotion to a whole new level with a display, and vehicles, themed around Star Wars ahead of The Last Jedi. Finding your autonomous taxi among all the others will certainly be a lot easier if it’s a TIE Fighter rather than a sedan.

newspress

When you’re driven to work by a robot chauffeur, you’re going to have a lot more time to read the newspaper or learn a language. Or (more realistically) browse social media and consume advertisements. Brands are already figuring out ways to make you notice the businesses around you, with plans to flash up the nearest coffee shop or oil change center on the giant screens that will fill cars. But Nissan is taking crossover promotion to a whole new level with a display, and vehicles, themed around Star Wars ahead of The Last Jedi. Finding your autonomous taxi among all the others will certainly be a lot easier if it’s a TIE Fighter rather than a sedan.

06

Take the Back Seat—Please!

When you no longer have to drive yourself, the back of the car becomes more important than the driver’s seat. This is already true for people who can afford chauffeurs, particularly in the Chinese market, but will become increasingly so for everyone else when driverless cars hit the streets. Range Rover is no stranger to luxury, but it pulled out all the stops for the 2018 Range Rover SVAutobiography. For just $207,900 you too can have an extended body for more legroom, power rear doors, a fridge, and seats with calf warmers and a hot stone massage function. The adults will be fighting with the kids for a seat in the back.

Range rover

When you no longer have to drive yourself, the back of the car becomes more important than the driver’s seat. This is already true for people who can afford chauffeurs, particularly in the Chinese market, but will become increasingly so for everyone else when driverless cars hit the streets. Range Rover is no stranger to luxury, but it pulled out all the stops for the 2018 Range Rover SVAutobiography. For just $207,900 you too can have an extended body for more legroom, power rear doors, a fridge, and seats with calf warmers and a hot stone massage function. The adults will be fighting with the kids for a seat in the back.

07

Apocalypse Survival Sells

At the other end of the scale from the Range Rover is the Jeep Wrangler and its utilitarian image. Sure, neither one is likely to leave the asphalt in the hands of most customers, but Jeep would like drivers to feel like they have the option. At the same time it has tweaked the suspension for better road manners and added sound insulation, as well as as much tech as could fit into the cabin—parking sensors, blind spot monitoring, even Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The ability to head into the wilderness and escape an apocalypse is on display at Ford too, which has a “Baja-Forged Adventurer” version of its Expedition SUV, with high suspension, roof bars, and lots and lots of lights.

jeep

At the other end of the scale from the Range Rover is the Jeep Wrangler and its utilitarian image. Sure, neither one is likely to leave the asphalt in the hands of most customers, but Jeep would like drivers to feel like they have the option. At the same time it has tweaked the suspension for better road manners and added sound insulation, as well as as much tech as could fit into the cabin—parking sensors, blind spot monitoring, even Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The ability to head into the wilderness and escape an apocalypse is on display at Ford too, which has a “Baja-Forged Adventurer” version of its Expedition SUV, with high suspension, roof bars, and lots and lots of lights.

08

There’s Not Always a Need for Speed …

REDS is a new design from famed former BMW designer Chris Bangle. The upright, boxy vehicle with tiny wheels will be made by Chinese company Redspace. Instead of being sleek and aerodynamic for high-speed travel, the car is designed for stop-start (mostly stop) city driving, with a focus on interior space. Its design looks radical, but it makes sense in congested Chinese metropolises, and it hints at future car design where priorities shift from a spirited driving dynamics to a relaxed passenger experience.

newspress

REDS is a new design from famed former BMW designer Chris Bangle. The upright, boxy vehicle with tiny wheels will be made by Chinese company Redspace. Instead of being sleek and aerodynamic for high-speed travel, the car is designed for stop-start (mostly stop) city driving, with a focus on interior space. Its design looks radical, but it makes sense in congested Chinese metropolises, and it hints at future car design where priorities shift from a spirited driving dynamics to a relaxed passenger experience.

09

… But There’s Always a Need for Better Gas Engines

Despite the focus on electrics, the majority of cars at the LA Auto Show are still gas powered, and manufacturers showcased their latest cunning tricks for making them more efficient. Infiniti’s QX50 crossover SUV features the world’s first variable compression ratio engine. It’s incredibly complex, but offers a 27 percent improvement in fuel efficiency. Expect to see more innovation in internal combustion engines, as auto makers fight to keep them relevant and emission-restriction-meeting before they’re ready for the electric switchover. 

infiniti

Despite the focus on electrics, the majority of cars at the LA Auto Show are still gas powered, and manufacturers showcased their latest cunning tricks for making them more efficient. Infiniti’s QX50 crossover SUV features the world’s first variable compression ratio engine. It’s incredibly complex, but offers a 27 percent improvement in fuel efficiency. Expect to see more innovation in internal combustion engines, as auto makers fight to keep them relevant and emission-restriction-meeting before they’re ready for the electric switchover. 

Source: https://www.wired.com/2017/12/la-auto-show-report-futuristic-features-coming-to-cars-asap/

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