Now is a wonderful time to have a driver’s license. In recent years, the automotive industry has begun to embrace and produce the kind of new car tech that would make George Jetson blush. It’s likely that in a mere decade’s time, a morning commute will be nearly unrecognizable by today’s standards. Increased safety, functionality and driver experience are at the forefront of manufacturers minds, with many new and exciting features becoming readily available or completely standard in 2016.
A cell phone is not what it was 10 years ago, and the technologies that now fit into your pocket have changed the way we live our daily lives, think about the world and communicate with others. Manufacturers are looking to capitalize on the demand of many of these technologies developed outside the auto industry, which go hand-in-hand with user experience behind the wheel.
Smartphone integration is only the beginning as select models from companies like Chevrolet, Volkswagen, Honda, Ford, Hyundai, Fiat-Chrystler and others offer familiar interface technology in conjunction with Apple and Android and even include gesture-based controls. Entertainment, experience and ease of navigation continue to push the market forward this year.
If there’s one change on the horizon that truly promises to reshape the overall safety and experience of driving, it’s automation. Self-driving cars are no longer confined to the future, they are here. Still in its early stages of implementation for now, for the new car tech of 2016 you will mostly see further automated elements as opposed to the whole shebang. But have no doubt, fully-automated is not far behind. Now standard on many new models are fun (and safe) features like blind spot detection, lane-keep assist, night vision, pedestrian and animal detection, auto-braking and steering and adaptive cruise control. With Wi-Fi becoming a ubiquitous fixture, programs and features can be updated without having to be plugged in.
The idea of hybrid and electric cars is not new, but starting in 2016 there will be an influx of more affordable, more electric-dependent and simply just more electric vehicles on the market. Continuing advances in design, fuel efficiency and environmental friendliness need not come at the cost of power and performance. This year’s batch of electric and hybrid models offer some get-up that will impress even the skeptics. To this end, turbocharged engines and lighter overall weights are becoming the norm to assist in getting you where you want to go quickly. There’s also been a lot of development in headlight technology with movement towards LEDs for better visibility, and increased use of backup cameras to make parallel parking a little easier.
Overall 2016 is an exciting year for consumers and manufacturers alike, and the future of automotive technology is starting to take a shape we can really look forward to.
Check out all the maintenance parts available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on new car tech, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.
Photo courtesy of Flickr
Blair Lampe is a New York-based professional mechanic, blogger, theater technician, and speechwriter. In her downtime she enjoys backpacking wherever her boots will carry her, rock climbing, experimental theatre, a crisp rosé , and showering love on her 2001 Sierra truck.