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Gadgetology - Marketing or Useful Advance

rorrrorr Posts: 3,630
Alright - the point of this one is discussing the various and sundry new doodads and gadgets introduced by the various automakers every year.

I think we can all agree that the automakers primary purpose in introducing various stuff is to get folks in their showroom and cars off their lots. But which 'innovations' are just fluff and eye candy and which ones actually belong in the 'I wonder how long before they ALL have this' category?

Heated/cooled cupholders?
GPS linked HVAC systems?
Heated/cooled steering wheels?

Well, I've got my opinion (surprise). What's yours?
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Comments

  • Supposedly 2009 is supposd to bring mandatory traction control systems. A welcome addition to those who live in the colder climates and don't want to drive an SUV daily. Hopefully, it will be defeatable unlike the latest lexus nannies...
  • rorrrorr Posts: 3,630
    I hadn't heard anything about that. Is it mandatory traction control or stability control?

    However, this brings up a point: if something is mandated by law, is it still a gadget or just regular equipment? I mean, it's not much useful for a game of backyard-fence one-upmanship if EVERYBODY ends up having it.....

    That being said, I personally like traction/stability control systems; and not just for those who live in colder climates. One of the problems with living in area which rarely see snow/frozen precip is that when it DOES happen, NOBODY knows how to drive in it (except of course for a few transplants).

    Also, a light rain on a street which hasn't seen rain in a couple of months can ALSO make for some pretty slick conditions.

    Personally, I put Traction/stability control into the "soon, all cars will have it" category.
  • Sorry, I meant Stability Control ,I always get them confused...

    http://www.usatoday.com/money/autos/2006-09-10-stability-control_x.htm
  • rorrrorr Posts: 3,630
    Interesting that they're talking about mandating stablitiy control when ABS itself (required for stability control) was never mandated.

    I wonder how close this is to being enacted and how much of this is wishful thinking by the NHTSA?
  • rorrrorr Posts: 3,630
    Okay, what in the heck is up with this great idea?

    I mean, how many drinks do you currently receive (at the drivethru, Starbucks takeout, etc.) that come in INSULATED CUPS?

    How effective would chilled/heated cupholders really be if your drink is in an insulated cup?

    Personally, I think this belongs in the "geewhiz, ain't that neet-o" invented-for-the-marketing department category.
  • lemkolemko Posts: 15,185
    Anybody remember the Graphic Control Center in mid-80s Buicks? It sustituted radio and HVAC controls with a touch-sensitive screen. I wonder what one does if the GCC burns out. I know of few people who would actually go through the trouble of replacing it with conventional controls and the GCC itself must be impossible to find as it wasn't produced for very long.

    How about the troublesome selt-belt interlock of the early 1970s that would prevent the car from being started without the front seatbelts fastened? That didn't last long.

    Remember the "talking Chryslers" of the early '80s? If anybody had one of these cars, how long was it before the voice command drove you nuts and you had it disconnected.

    Whatever became of 4-wheel steering? I recall it first on Honda Preludes and later on large Chevrolet and GMC trucks. Is it still with us or did it fade into automotive history?

    Why doesn't somebody bring back pushbutton transmissions? It would certainly remove that clumsy console or column mounted lever for more passenger room. Chrysler seemed to have perfected it back in the 1950s and early 1960s.
  • rorrrorr Posts: 3,630
    Don't know about the mid-80s specific GCC on the Buicks but there's a large number of today's vehicles with touch-sensitive screens for the radio/HVAC system controls. They're not my cup of tea but it IS a way to reduce the clutter of buttons on the dash, particularly when they are bundled together with the NAV system on modern vehicles.

    Personally, I like knobs on my radio and rotary switches for my HVAC. yawn.

    Can't remember the seat-belt interlock, but I highly doubt it was introduced as a gimmick to get folks in the showroom. Probably in an effort to abide by or stave off some kind of legislation. Kinda like those ridiculous 'passive seatbelts' that were bolted to the door so you were automatically buckled in when the door was shut (well, the shoulder part anyway).

    I think there was a slew of talking cars for a while in the early-mid 80's. And I wonder how many of those systems succumbed to the strategic use of wire cutters....

    I think that GM still offers the 4-wheel steering system. I think the technology was wasted on sports/sporty cars (the Mitsu 3000 VR4 and sister Dodge Stealth also had it). But I can see it as being useful on larger trucks to cut down on the turning radius. I remember the ads showing the Chevy/GMC trucks backing up cattle trailers through some pretty snaky manuevers and thought it was a good showcase for the 4ws technology.

    Honestly, I dunno why Chysler killed the pushbutton transmissions. I think that simply having some form of a stick for transmission shifting (whether it's a column shifter , console shifter, or even dashboard shifter) is simply convention. Folks expect a shifter. I've seen all kinds of weird variations on steering wheels in various concept cars as well, but for some reason the always gravitate back to a more or less conventional "wheel" for production.
  • bumpybumpy Posts: 4,435
    GM killed Quadrasteer a year or two ago. They made it an expensive standalone option (instead of bundling it into the Denali package or something), then wondered why no one bought it.

    Four-wheel steering never died. The Infiniti G35, M45, and Q45 have it (and Hyundai was thinking of putting it on the Sonata), but Nissan doesn't call it HICAS any more.
  • redmaxxredmaxx Posts: 627
    Okay, what in the heck is up with this great idea?

    I mean, how many drinks do you currently receive (at the drivethru, Starbucks takeout, etc.) that come in INSULATED CUPS?

    How effective would chilled/heated cupholders really be if your drink is in an insulated cup?

    Personally, I think this belongs in the "geewhiz, ain't that neet-o" invented-for-the-marketing department category.


    You don't live in a hot climate, like AZ, do you? You've never burned your hands on a hot steering wheel have you? Cooled steering wheel and cupholders would be great here.
  • redmaxxredmaxx Posts: 627
    Anybody remember the Graphic Control Center in mid-80s Buicks? It sustituted radio and HVAC controls with a touch-sensitive screen. I wonder what one does if the GCC burns out. I know of few people who would actually go through the trouble of replacing it with conventional controls and the GCC itself must be impossible to find as it wasn't produced for very long.

    iDrive anyone?

    Honestly, I dunno why Chysler killed the pushbutton transmissions. I think that simply having some form of a stick for transmission shifting (whether it's a column shifter , console shifter, or even dashboard shifter) is simply convention. Folks expect a shifter. I've seen all kinds of weird variations on steering wheels in various concept cars as well, but for some reason the always gravitate back to a more or less conventional "wheel" for production.

    I would gladly get rid of the shifter in favor of paddles on the steering wheel and a button to switch between automatic and manual mode. It would certainly free up room in the interior of a small car, for maybe...larger cup holders? :shades:
  • rorrrorr Posts: 3,630
    "You don't live in a hot climate, like AZ, do you?"

    South central Texas. And trust me, it does get hot. Which is one reason why all of my drinks already arrive in insulated cups (and I drink my coffee from an insulated mug).

    Yep, the steering wheel (always BLACK for some reason) does get hot. But I don't think I was deriding this idea as much as the heated/cooled cupholders. Actually, it comes down to effectiveness. Is the steering wheel KEPT cool in some manner for the 8 hours I'm in the office? Or is it blistering hot for a bit while I sit and WAIT for the system to cool the wheel down?

    Generally, I'll just drape a white towel over the steering wheel in the a.m. Works great.
  • redmaxxredmaxx Posts: 627
    How hot there? Here we're talking 115 degrees. Plus, I have no control over what cup McDonalds gives me. You may not want the option, but it's not ridiculous. As for the steering wheel, I imagine you could have it hooked to remote start, so that the car is cooling the steering wheel as you walk up to it.
  • rorrrorr Posts: 3,630
    Nope, not 115. I think we peaked at around 106 this summer (I could make a crack about the humidity but that doesn't mean a thing to the air temp in a car).

    From my perspective, I've NEVER had a case where I thought "gee, I sure wish I had some way to actually cool down/warm up this cupholder". When I've got a cold drink, it goes in a coozy. And I drink it; it doesn't have TIME to sit there for 20-30 minutes and get warm.

    Would heated/chilled cupholders be "useful". Sure, I suppose; but it's just another damn doodad in my book; more useful for wowwing your buddies than anything else. And since most of the cups I DO use in my car ARE insulated (I've no idea what the local McD's uses, sorry) heated/cooled cupholders would be about as useful, to me, as [non-permissible content removed] on a boar hog.

    Remote start? I'm sure it could be connnected to a remote start (of course, that's a little more difficult with a manual transmission but that's beside the point). redmaxx, I'm NOT saying these additional 'features' don't work; all I'm questioning is the 'value' such features add vs. the cost of such features. And whether or not the 'value' added is a REAL value, or simply another bragging point between two guys trying to recite all the cool gadgets on their new car.

    Personally, I like throwing a white towel over the steering wheel. It's quick, it's cheap, it's effective, and it has the added bonus of preventing sun damage to the leather on the wheel.
  • A kid here at work has a Silverado with the 4 wheel steering. While it is pretty slick to see, he has had the truck in over a dozen times for "software upgrades" on the system. Nothing has broken on it.

    Last I heard Delphi? who designed the system was disappointed with the lack of promotion for the Quadrasteer system and that is why it got pulled. And then I read that they were going to sell it to Nissan to be used in the Titan pickup... Don't know if it'll come to fruition someday or not.
  • rorrrorr Posts: 3,630
    I always thought that quadrasteer system made sense for full-size trucks; particularly the extra-cab/long-bed models with the wheelbases that stretched across two zip codes.

    Does it work only at very low speeds (front and rears turning in opposite directions) or does it also operate at higher speeds (front and rears turning same direction)?
  • At low speeds, the rears turn opposite to the fronts to decrease the turning radius significantly. I think at speeds over 35? the rears turn in the same direction as the fronts to maintain stability when changing lanes.
  • rorrrorr Posts: 3,630
    "...at speeds over 35? the rears turn in the same direction as the fronts to maintain stability when changing lanes."

    I knew this was the case with the Honda Prelude and the Mitsu 3000VR4 systems. I wasn't sure if it did this on the GM pickup version as well. Of course, all my knowledge on the GM system comes from their advertisements; and that's never a good thing... :blush:
  • rockyleerockylee Wyoming, MichiganPosts: 13,989
    Infiniti has a 4-wheel steering system called "rear active steer" Does anyone thing that a perfected 4-wheel steering system wouldn't be a great safety and performance advantage ? The Dodge Stealth, was arguably one of the best if not the best handling car of all time. So would I like more 4-wheel steering systems available ? You betcha !!!
    SH-AWD, seems to run a close second, but it's not near as good as the Stealth's duo AWD-4WS ;)

    Rocky
  • rockyleerockylee Wyoming, MichiganPosts: 13,989
    The Delphi system rorr, wasn't nearly as good or worked in high performance applications like the Mitsubishi, Honda, and Infiniti, units.

    Rocky

    P.S. I'll add more discussions in the morning when I get home from work. good topic rorr. ;)
  • rorrrorr Posts: 3,630
    Thanks rock....I kinda had you in mind when I started it since you seem to be our resident gadget freak.... :D

    I don't know that I would say the Delphi system wasn't 'as good'. It's intended for an entirely different purpose (low speed manuveurability on full-size long WB trucks). Unless of course, it didn't even do THAT very well....I dunno.

    I never drove any of the Preludes or Mitsu examples with 4ws. But from what I understand, Honda's Prelude SH (which directed more torque to the outside tire) was a better improvement to handling AND far simpler (lighter) than the 4ws system.
  • redmaxxredmaxx Posts: 627
    An even better improvement would be a Mercedes prototype I saw on TV once a few years ago. They showed the driver throwing (really hard) the car into turns on a mountain road, with no problem. The trick? The car dynamically adjusted the camber of the wheels as it went through the turn.
  • rockyleerockylee Wyoming, MichiganPosts: 13,989
    rorr, I guess I'm still surprised that more 4-WS systems aren't available on more cars. One, would think modern technology would yield a cost efficient system from somebody besides just Infiniti ? :surprise:

    Gadgetology, "Technocharged" as Acura now is calling it, and most commonly known as the "bells and whistles" are "gee whiz" technology functions which help and even sometimes hamper the driving experience. ;)

    A couple of very useful features

    Ventilated seats is one of the greatest technologies ever brought to market IMHO. I don't think many people could give me negatives about this specific piece of Gadgetology. Our Dept. of Energy did some studies and found out "X" millions of gallons of gasoline could be saved because people could either turn off or significantly turn down their A/C units and still stay cool.

    Another popular one in the news is the Rear back-up camera systems. 2,500 kids a year are backed over because of the huge blind spot of SUV's and Trucks according to one of the ALPHA news channels I was watching last week.

    Stability control- I know we have a separate forum, so I'll leave that alone.

    Voice Recognition, we are starting to see it more and more on entry-lux level cars like the TL, IS 350, etc. GM, needs to expand this feature. It's proven to keep more drivers eyes on the road because all one has to do is thumb the VR button and via a voice command the desired feature or function will work like magic. ;)

    I'll add more in the near future, everyone else feel free to keep adding to this Gadgetology forum. :)

    Rocky
  • Kirstie_HKirstie_H Posts: 10,890
    We really don't need a separate discussion for each "gadget," so let's stick with this one for now. Thanks!

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  • rockyleerockylee Wyoming, MichiganPosts: 13,989
    Okay, I wasn't sure how this forums direction was going to play out.

    Well as a "whole" I personally think the majority of Gadgets are very useful and do benefit the customer and society because many of them are improving safety. ;)

    Rocky
  • rorrrorr Posts: 3,630
    "I guess I'm still surprised that more 4-WS systems aren't available on more cars. One, would think modern technology would yield a cost efficient system from somebody besides just Infiniti ?"

    Well, depends on what the manufacturer offers 4ws FOR. I mean, if it REALLY was that beneficial from a handling standpoint, then why don't car makers KNOWN for handling (Lotus, Porsche, BMW) offer it? IMO, I think it was used by Honda to try to offset some typical FWD handling characteristics (understeer). To that end, I think the SH system introduced on the Prelude and refined on the Acura is more effective. And I think it was done on the Mitsu for the gee-whiz factor. I don't recall the 3000VR4 being called a paragon of handling prowess.

    OTOH, I think the 4ws WOULD be beneficial in very long wheelbase vehicles where some additional low speed nimbleness would be beneficial (ie. big pickups). Actually, I'm more surprised it hasn't caught on in that market.

    Ventilated seats - what I'd like to see are seats made out of tubular aluminum and breathable mesh (fully adjustable of course). I think such seats COULD be designed to be very comfortable and would be very lightweight and free up knee space for rear-seat passenger. Did you know the original GT40's built in the 60's had ventilated seats?

    Voice recognition - the problem I have with this is that with the explosion of other gadgets in our cars (principally NAV) that we began to have TOO MUCH JUNK diverting our attention away from....DRIVING. So VR was introduced in an effort to get folks attention BACK to what they're supposed to be doing. And does an HVAC/audio system REALLY need to be so complicated that we need VR to control it?

    I think you and I are going to be on opposite sides of the fence on this one too (gee who'da thunk it? ;)
  • rockyleerockylee Wyoming, MichiganPosts: 13,989
    LOL, a good post anyways even though you and I look at each other on opposite fences. :D

    Rocky

    P.S. Thanks for the history lesson about the ventilated seats on the GT40- wow, didn't know that one. ;) I also like your ventialted seat idea. ;)

    VR, is my favorites gadget made. Well along with DVD-Audio :shades:
  • rockyleerockylee Wyoming, MichiganPosts: 13,989
    rorr, I learned the other day that Saab, is staking claim as having the first ventilated seats in a car. :confuse:
    They claim to invent that technology ?

    Rocky
  • rorrrorr Posts: 3,630
    Depends on how you define "ventilation".

    In the GT40, the 'ventilation' was just holes in the seat to help it 'breathe' easier(btw, I sincerely doubt that the GT40 was the first seat with 'ventilation'; hell, look at the ventilation on a buckboard wagon - now THAT'S ventilation).

    For all I know, Saab may have seats connected to the HVAC system to force cooled air through the seats. You've heard the expression 'blow wind up your skirt'?.......well, looks like Saab is literally doing it.
  • rockyleerockylee Wyoming, MichiganPosts: 13,989
    ROTFLMAO, :D brain fade, you aren't missing a lick ;)

    Rocky
  • fintailfintail Posts: 33,785
    When do they claim to have had it?
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