Cars of Future Will Offer Maintenance Rewards for Dealers

Tomorrow's cars will: (a) Stay in marked lanes with hands-free driving. (b) Brake by themselves to avoid collisions. (c) Signal the need for repairs of various parts. Answer: All of the above, thanks to advancements, much of them prodded by government regulators and made possible by military technology crossing over to civilian use. Impending safety-technology breakthroughs will dramatically reduce

Tomorrow's cars will: (a) Stay in marked lanes with hands-free driving. (b) Brake by themselves to avoid collisions. (c) Signal the need for repairs of various parts.

Answer: All of the above, thanks to advancements, much of them prodded by government regulators and made possible by military technology crossing over to civilian use.

Impending safety-technology breakthroughs will dramatically reduce vehicle accidents, a panel of experts says at a Center for Automotive Research meeting in Ypsilanti, MI.

Safety researcher David LeBlanc says brake-deployment systems have been moved ahead by the National Highway Traffic Safety Admin.'s adoption of a disclosure standard on '15 models.

That's when the so-called “Monroney” sticker must list a vehicle's safety-warning systems, in addition to the conventional price and equipment information.

“Already, rear-object and blind-spot cameras are appearing on more and more cars,” says LeBlanc, citing Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Ford Taurus and Audi models.

Crash-warning systems are being tested on 16 Honda Accord cars being driven in the Detroit area, he says. “Consumer pressure to equip lower-priced vehicles with these systems is growing steadily.”

“Check oil” and “check engine” lights have long been on instrument panels. New technology will expand malfunction warnings to other equipment such water pumps, brake linings and air-conditioning systems, says Steve Millstein, president of the ATX Group.

“Preventive maintenance programs could reap big returns for dealers, as new areas of potential trouble issues are explored via electronics signaling,” he says.

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