Wednesday

Cool Car Stuff Coming

Technology has some great car gadgets in store for your new car in the coming years. Many are already showing up in the showroom. Many people have heard of the Lexus self parking car, but there's much more heading your way. Here's a sample of what Detroit is working on...

For the driver who hates the everyday poor quality of most auto sound systems, Bang-Olufsen have the answer and its showing up in some new Audi cars. B&O specialize in high bling home electronics equipment and gear. Like the company's cell phone that costs over a grand and does nothing but work like a phone. No camera. No nothing else. But you want a stereo that'll move your car when it's standing still? How about a 1,100 watt amplifier and tweeters that rise out of the dashboard, 12 speakers and a subwoofer under your seat? Well, write out a check for an extra $6k+ and you'll have it in your new Audi.

Is that my car? Well, you may not have to wonder to find out. Word leaked out last fall that Hitachi is working on door locks that identify the car owner by the pattern of veins in their fingers. Some current computer security systems scan finger veins on your palm to identify the user. But when you grip a door handle, those veins deform around the handle. So Hitachi's new system will scan veins behind the fingernails instead. Those key fobs with built in transmitters Will be replaced by the human hand, God's ultimate security system. Now if only they could figure out the blood alcohol content of those veins, they could let you in the car but not let you drive it. Oh well, at least in an Audi you'd have a terrific stereo system to sober up with.

Automatic school zone detectors are being worked on by Toyota. The system uses a camera to recognize the universal school zone sign's shape. If you're speeding, the system will brake down to the speed limit.

There've been DVD players in cars for some years now but television on the move has been limited to Rv's. Well, not anymore. At the 2007 New York Auto Show, Chrysler and Sirius showed off the Sirius Back Seat TV system that they say will come out on the 2008 Town & Country and the Dodge Grand Caravan, before anyone else gets it. Tv monitors will be built into the back of the headrest in front of you and rear seat occupants can watch Tv while driving down the road. And when the car is parked, front seat occupants can also watch on their front screen. Since it's Sirius, that means you can expect to pay extra but they say the available channels will emphasize kid-friendly programming. Okay, so maybe it'll cost extra to watch Howard Stern? Now if they could just wire up a popcorn maker, you'd hardly have to go home at all.

Ever been driving at night and had to search for that cup of coffee or soft drink in the cupholder? Well, Chrysler (again) has a solution. It's a soft bluish green glow that lights up the cupholder. Now why didn't someone think of that before?

The electric car rises like a Phoenix from the ashes of unemployed aerospace engineers, fueled by Silicon Valley venture capital cash. Tesla Motors has sold out the first 100 of its two seat electric roadsters being built in Albuquerque, New Mexico. At $100,000 each, the price isn't cheap, but they look gorgeous and move like an Impala. No, wait...that's a different brand...I meant the animal...not the Chevy. But then again, even GM is trying to figure out how to make the Volt run faster and longer on its batteries. Smart, sexy, and fast Electric cars may finally start to show up on a street near you.

Do you ever start to change lanes and hesitate because you know there's a blind spot somewhere near your car's side rear and you just aren't sure? Well, Volvo has a fix for you. Not to show off or anything, but Volvo has gone the rear view camera one better with the side mounted version. The camera peeks behind for any cars that might be in your car's blind spot and if it "sees" one, then an orange light appears on the windowsill to warn you. It's an option on the Volvo S80, called the Blind Spot Information System. If it bothers you, you can turn the system off, of course, but then hitting that car in the blind spot will increase your insurance rates and isn't that why you paid extra for the option in the first place?

How about a speaker in your car's headliner? How about turning the whole headliner into a stereo speaker? Well Toyota's FJ Cruiser has an audio system that does it. Forget about having the neighborhood kid transplant a couple of 12 inch woofers behind the rear seat. How about a 72 inch speaker membrane blasting you from above? Well, actually it doesn't create a huge sound level but Toyota says that it does a great job of complementing the Cruiser's regular speakers. You know, I just don't know about this one. I don't like sitting that close to the stage at a concert, so why would I want to sit under a huge sound system speaker? On the other hand, hearing aid sellers are gearing up for a huge sales opportunity in a few years...if they're smart they'll stick a product brochure in the glove box of every new Cruiser!

Ever been ripped off by a body shop? Who hasn't... Well, GM may actually solve that. They're working on a technology that would allow cars to repair themselves after minor accidents. It's some super secret plastic and metal product that would revert to its original shape when heat or electricity is applied to it. Parking lot dings would be a thing of the past. The Dent Doctor better start investing his money in GM stock. Got a dent? Get out the blow dryer...

Now here's one someone should've thought of long ago. 13 of GM's 2007 vehicles offer the HotShot heated windshield wiper fluid system. The fluid is heated up so when it hits the windshield it'll clear frost and ice fast. Ford has dibs to install the system on a sedan in 2010, but until then GM is ahead of the frosty game. So simple. I can't believe I didn't get that patent...

The coolest antitheft system out there is being pefected by FlashFog in Ontario. Tons better than that stupid etch a sketch scam where the car dealer charges you a hundred or two bucks to scratch some numbers on your car windows. This thing keeps the would be thief from even seeing thru the windows at all! A thief tries to start your car and in just a couple of seconds FlashFog fills the entire passenger cabin with a vapor that is so thick he can't see anything at all. The vapor is harmless, but maybe it'll come with an extra, built in pepper spray that'll cause a little pain at the same time. You know, sort of an Instant Justice FlashFog version.

The auto industry can be a very cool thing to watch evolve, but as long as they remember that what people want first and foremost is reliable, safe transportation for their families, new cars will sell. When they don't build them right, though, things get ugly real fast.

That's why we're here. We sue car dealers and car manufacturers everyday over lemon cars and lemon trucks and lemon rv's. The dealers and manufacturers know that's what we do. Maybe that's one reason we don't always have to do it. Sometimes just a few phone calls and strongly worded letters can get the job done for you.