Tablets, tablets and more tablets, and a few hundred cell phones as well. That pretty much sums up the Consumer Electronics Show this year, except for the cars and off-road vehicles at the show. Yes, I said cars, which now carry more technology than the Space Shuttle. The new all-electric Polaris RANGER EV utility vehicle (left) can go up to 50 miles on a charge on regular household current. (Full disclosure...they are an Axiom project client).
But I'm a little concerned that potential car buyers are now more interested with how the voice recognition or GPS systems work in their new cars and trucks than the technology that goes into the engine or suspension. That's because I'm old enough to remember when you could crawl under the hood to actually adjust a carburetor, replace the water pump or change the spark plugs. Now, automakers cover the entire engine with plastic shrouds in an attempt to dissuade you from ever touching anything in there, save refilling your windshield washer fluid.
To counter this trend, at least for the Ferrara household, I recently purchased a VW Jetta Sportwagen equipped with a Clean Diesel TDI engine. Most Americans are unfamiliar with how good diesels have gotten lately...no smoke, good power thanks to a turbocharger, no diesel clatter and superb gas mileage (up to 40 and then some on the highway). But what I like about the diesel most of all, is that although it's quiet, it still sounds like an engine and lets you know something's going on under the hood. And of course you have to be careful not to put regular gas in it, but that's just the point...at least you're forced to be connected to the vehicle.
I'm afraid cars are so good at what they do that people will start to think they can drive themselves. We haven't quite gotten to that point yet. Drivers, especially young ones, need to discipline themselves and concentrate on driving and not selecting what type of voice they prefer on their GPS. That's something that should be reserved for sitting in the driveway.