Techie Cars

Personally, I'm waiting for plug-in hybrids before going to the show room again. Popular Mechanics did a comprehensive report on comparative auto technologies (article seems not to be available anymore), and found that the best hope for economical transportation was in plug-in gas/electric hybrids. Interestingly, they also found that petroleum was the cleanest of potential combustion options, contradicting the conventional wisdom about "bio-fuels".

But the one thing thing that could lure me to the showroom before the advent of plug-in technology would be some of the fun and useful techie options that are now becoming available in both hybrid and traditional gas powered cars. Cnet does a nice review of these emerging technologies. To no one's surprise, the Japanese and German automakers are leading the way. Options like blue tooth, GPS mapping, built in satellite radio and i-pod plug-ins are now available in many of these cars.

Years ago the German automakers eschewed cup holders as "unsportsmanlike" and refused to include them in their cars. However, as their sales dropped in the US, they reluctantly started focusing on the cabin in high end Mercedes and BMW's. Now, high tech features are all the rage.

There are three things that I await before taking the plunge. First is a blue tooth i-pod. In my mind, what's the point of having a blue tooth cabin in the car, if you can't just throw your i-pod on the seat next to you and have the in cabin screen fire up i-Tunes. Second is Windows Vista on the cabin screen. The technology is there. Why shouldn't my car have a PC? And finally, 3/4G wireless access. Again, EVDO is common now. Verizon ought to be doing deals with Acura, Toyota and BMW.

I don't ask for much, do I? All things considered, maybe I will have to wait for the plug-in before getting the rest of the package.


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