Last week’s poll: ‘smart cars’ as consumer electronics

This year’s CES exhibition saw a number of companies roll into Las Vegas to unveil developments that indicate the growth of ‘smart cars’ as consumer electronics.

Notable among exhibitors were Byton, a start-up looking to turn the car ‘into the next-generation smart device’.

They believe car buyers will soon select new vehicles in the same way that people choose a new mobile phone, based more on the operating system and the available software capabilities than its performance on the road.

This prompted us to ask Engineer readers what they think about this emerging trend.

Nearly half (47 per cent) of respondents saw the convergence of automotive and consumer technologies as an inevitable consequence of electrification, whilst nearly a third (31 per cent) agreed that the trend would ultimately over complicate vehicles. A total of 13 per cent thought the automotive sector should stick to transport without the bells and whistles, and the remaining nine per cent opted for ‘none of the above’.

Judging by the 21 comments received to date, Engineer readers are not overly enamoured with an automotive future that includes technologies such as touch screen controls.

Edited highlights include this from Robert Palgrave who said: “My vote is for manufacturers to go back to basics and improve the efficiency, maintainability and longevity of cars, and not keep trying to load cars with ever-more electronics of limited value.”

In a similar vein, Rober Hobbs said: “Talking to owners of 2017 vehicles, they all have the same complaint that it is impossible to learn intuitively how to operate the ancillary controls without looking at the touch screen. This does not appear to be progress but a sales gimmick to fit in with modern IT technology to the detriment of safety.”

AnotherSteve asks whether more in-car distractions are a good idea when operating a half-ton vehicle at speeds up to and over 70mph. “I believe it’s illegal to eat, drink, change a CD, or use a mobile whilst driving,” he wrote. “So how come a lot of these modern ‘smart’ distractions are allowed?”

What do you think? Keep the debate alive using Comments below.