Going green has been one of the biggest movements of the 2010s. This comes as no surprise, considering that every year has broken the record for the warmest year in history for three consecutive years, all thanks to human activity.
Carbon emissions from vehicles play a big role in climate change, which is why automobile companies have been working hard to develop new, greener technologies. These kinds of technologies take time, but we’re closer to achieving more ecologically friendly driving than we ever have been before.
We think 2017 is going to be a pivotal year for green technologies in cars. Here are just a few things we hope to see as the year goes on:
Electric power. Cars that run completely on electricity are something automobile companies have been promising for years. Electric cars have been around for a while, but have remained out of the average driver’s budget. This year, we may see them widely implemented for the first time.
Tesla currently dominates the electric car market, but the Chevrolet Bolt is going to create some serious competition, which will hopefully cause prices to plummet. Volkswagen has said that, by 2025, the average driver will be able to afford an electric car. We’re hoping that will come sooner, especially considering there are already 50,000 electric charging stations across the country.
Talking cars. No, these talking cars won’t be a Disney-esque creation come to life. Thanks to the implementation of Wi-Fi technology in vehicles, cars that can communicate with each other are on the horizon.
New Cadillac sedans will offer a revolutionary feature in 2017 – the ability to share vital information. This includes information about the weather, vehicle speed, braking, collisions, and other driving conditions. This kind of technology can save thousands of lives each year and, we hope, will become a standard feature in vehicles of the future.
Revolutionary diesel technology. Diesel has been a key culprit of climate change for many years. Despite the implementation of legislation regulating diesel emissions, diesel vehicles are still on the road. Chevrolet is slated to introduce a new diesel version of the Cruze in 2017. The newest model will be more fuel efficient than traditional diesel vehicles while delivering optimum performance. Only time will tell if diesel will make a comeback or if electric and water powered cars will stomp it out.
Self-driving cars. To some, autonomous vehicles may sound like the stuff horror movies are made of. In truth, self-driving cars are far less likely to get in accidents compared to traditional vehicles. Well, at least they’re less likely to get in accidents for which they are at fault.
Most collisions with self-driving cars have been the fault of the other traditional driver involved. Still, USA Today reports that a study by the University of Michigan shows the chance of injury and collision are roughly four times as likely in self-driving cars.
To make sense of this incriminating statistic, we need to take a few things into consideration. First, there are far fewer self-driving cars on the road today compared to traditional vehicles. Second, only eleven self-driving vehicles were featured in the University of Michigan’s study. Third, all injuries reported in the collisions were minor, and a human was always present in the autonomous vehicles.
Lastly, there has not been one reported case of the software of a self-driving car malfunctioning. So far, it doesn’t seem like autonomous cars want to take over the human race.
Side cameras. Several newer vehicles on the market feature rear window cameras, but side mirror cameras have yet to be introduced on cars. In fact, side mirrors may be completely replaced by camera pods. The replacement would be beneficial for improving the aerodynamics of vehicles and reducing glare.
Though the idea of side mirror cameras was being toyed with by Tesla, Japan may be the first to implement the technology. That’s because Tesla previously failed to get U.S. legislators on board, though the idea has since been approved by UN legislators in the summer of 2016.
There are some drawbacks to the side camera, though, the main one being weather conditions. Snow or ice can reduce visibility and cause problems. Developers are still working out the kinks on this one, but we’re hoping it will be made available to the public soon.
Electric axles. This new technology is already available on certain vehicles, such as Volvos and BMWs. The 2017 Mitsubishi Outlander will feature e-axles. Electric axles provide better handling, performance, speed control, and fuel efficiency compared to traditional axles. Electric axles will mostly be available for electric and hybrid vehicles.
Current e-axles are only for front-wheel-drive, although e-axles for all-wheel-drive vehicles are currently in development. Electric axles for larger transport vehicles like electric buses and vans will be made available in 2018.
Nanowire battery cells. Even now, electric power in cars isn’t operating at its full potential. We’ve still got some work to do on this technology, but the nanowire battery cells may help speed the process of development along significantly. Current electric batteries have a limit on how many times they can be recharged – roughly 7,000 times at the maximum before going kaput, but the new nanowire battery cell can be charged more than 100,000 times!
The only drawback is these battery cells are more fragile than the current batteries in electric cars today. Again, this is something that developers at the University of California Irvine are still working on. We’re hoping they can figure it out sooner rather than later.
Smart gas pedals. Almost everything in our world these days is smart, and new haptic-feedback gas pedals are no exception. Available for cars with manual transmissions, these new gas pedals by Bosch can tell a driver when to shift gears to maximize fuel efficiency. The revolutionary gas pedal will vibrate to let the driver know that it’s time to switch gears or when the driver is putting the pedal to the metal a little too hard.
Bosch is working on integrating the new pedals with other apps that provide driver feedback. Eventually, the pedals will be able to let the driver know when to take their foot off the gas and alert the driver to a potential collision. We hope car companies will catch on to this new technology as the year goes on.
Green vehicle technologies are imperative to preserve our planet’s future. Not only will green technologies provide more accessibility and comfort, but they’re also set to cost less than they have in previous years. Throughout 2017, we’ll be waiting – perhaps a little impatiently – for these technologies to become widespread and affordable.