I’m starting a list of the technology I want in my next car, presuming it’s one with an internal combustion engine. It could be awhile before I buy one, and it’s likely that some of what’s on the list today will be replaced by something spiffier between now and then, but at least I’ll have a baseline, as well as a way to think about the evolution of automotive technology in an organized way.
Organized suggests categories, but since technology features are interrelated, rather than agonizing over the perfect categories I’ll jump right in with “Economy.”
I want good mileage, and it would also be nice to drive a car with low emissions. Fortunately for me and everyone else who drives, better mileage and lower emissions are both mandatory. Automakers and suppliers are addressing the requirement by downsizing engines without downsizing performance, and gasoline direct injection (GDI) is important for that.
I know I want stop/start. According to the Texas Transport Institute at Texas A&M University, some 2.8 billion gallons of gasoline were wasted in the U.S. in 2007 due to traffic congestion. It’s probably no better today. The folks at Bosch estimate that start/stop technology can improve fuel economy by up to 15 percent and reduce emissions by up to 8 percent. Widespread introduction of start/stop by U.S. automakers is expected in 2012.
Then there’s electric power steering. Bosch estimates that it can improve fuel economy by approximately 1.1 miles per-gallon and reduce CO2 emissions by 16 grams per-mile, not to mention the benefit of noticeably improved handling. Weight is a factor in fuel economy, and eliminating the hydraulic steering system can trim vehicle weight by as much as 5 kilograms and can also reduce steering system power requirements by 90 percent, and saving on power is always a good thing.
Now I can look for components to enable each of the three items on my list. I’ve already found quite a few. If you know of any I might have missed, I hope you’ll let me know.