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Why Your New Car's Technology Is Four Years Old

samzenpus posted about a year ago | from the playing-catch-up dept.

Transportation 455

Lucas123 writes "While you can buy a 1TB hard drive for your computer for less than $100, Ford today offers 10GB. Don't expect much more anytime soon. Apart from the obvious — a car's development process can be four years long — the automotive industry also tends to be behind the tech curve because of a lack of equipment standardization. And, while it's possible for the industry to build modular infotainment systems that could be upgraded over the life of the car, there are no plans to do so. Instead, car companies intend to offer software upgradable vehicles through 4G connectivity and data storage and entertainment streaming through the cloud, which means they have to worry less about onboard hardware reliability and standardization."

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Not to mention... (4, Insightful)

Scoth (879800) | about a year ago | (#43642563)

They'd probably rather sell you a new car with fancy new technology than let you upgrade your existing technology.

Re:Not to mention... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43642721)

Sell us a new car rather than a 64GB card to allow for more storage? I'm shocked, I tell you. Shocked!

With so many cars being leased, then returned in two or three years, most people wouldn't bother replacing or upgrading anything in the car. How they can't develop a car with "hooks" for a new (eg, less than 6 months old) piece of technology is beyond me. These are top shelf engineers and I bet they could work wonders without the corporate red tape.

Re:Not to mention... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43642933)

Sell us a new car rather than a 64GB card to allow for more storage? I'm shocked, I tell you. Shocked!

With so many cars being leased, then returned in two or three years, most people wouldn't bother replacing or upgrading anything in the car. How they can't develop a car with "hooks" for a new (eg, less than 6 months old) piece of technology is beyond me. These are top shelf engineers and I bet they could work wonders without the corporate red tape.

TFA mentions at least one challenge. Kit in automobiles have to be built for extreme conditions (temperature range, vibrations, chemicals, dust, etc). I can see consumers grabbing a cheap pc-grade harddrive and putting it into the vehicle then complaining when it gets fried. The car manufacturer would probably be blamed, much as Microsoft gets blamed anytime a program crashes on Windows.

Re:Not to mention... (2)

jedidiah (1196) | about a year ago | (#43643035)

Nonsense. Sounds like a standard laptop.

You just sound like you are trying to justify an absurd markup and a development process mired in more red tape then they have to deal with even at NASA.

The car PC concept is very old news already.

Re:Not to mention... (3, Informative)

drakaan (688386) | about a year ago | (#43643199)

You must have only become familiar with cars after they got rid of non-integrated replaceable in-dash radios.

...TFA mentions at least one challenge. Kit in automobiles have to be built for extreme conditions (temperature range, vibrations, chemicals, dust, etc)...

Pure, unadulterated horseshit. There have been companies manufacturing aftermarket electronic components suited for automotive and marine use (and ones that typically exceed car manufacturers' gear) for decades.

I didn't bitch to Ford when (after 4 years in a lowered isuzu pup sitting on its bump-stops) my cd changer began skipping constantly. I understood that Pioneer did the best they could and Isuzu had nothing to do with me valuing ride height over suspension performance.

I'd love a return to DIN-sized dash openings (or even standard GM and Chrysler sized ones...anything that makes replacability an option).

Ahh, the good old days of IASCA and USAC competitions...

Re:Not to mention... (1)

Cammi (1956130) | about a year ago | (#43642959)

They do work wonders. The problem is corrupt management comes on board and removes everything decent.

Re:Not to mention... (3, Insightful)

poetmatt (793785) | about a year ago | (#43642783)

hey it's not all bad. the security exploits come free of charge! You also have no guarantee they'll be patched, ever! enjoy!

Re:Not to mention... (0)

TeddyR (4176) | about a year ago | (#43643137)

I wonder who took the lead from whom?

Apple iDevices. anyone?

Re:Not to mention... (3, Insightful)

cjjjer (530715) | about a year ago | (#43643293)

And this is different than say cell phone providers or cell phone software vendors? Google, RIM and MS would rather you buy a new device with the latest software than have to support some older version of the software I am sure.

How is this still news to people (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43642575)

This explanation seems to get posted every year as if its news. First it was with GPS in cars, then MP3 playback, now HD size?

No (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43642619)

It has to be solid state or the hdd head will turn to trash after a few bumps.

Re:No (1)

msauve (701917) | about a year ago | (#43643209)

Which would make it an abysmal failure, like the Apple iPod, all of which which used hard drives until 2005, and one model still does.

Reliability needs (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43642621)

Or, it could be that older technology is more reliable, and that's needed for the service of the vehicle. Much like how SCSI drives have never been up to the same spec for capacity as their IDE counterparts because SCSI was using tried & true technology to maintain reliability. Imagine having a rash of failed 1TB HDs in vehicle infotainment systems. Backlash galore.

Flash will fill the gap eventually, if not already happening.

Re:Reliability needs (1)

NJRoadfan (1254248) | about a year ago | (#43642719)

I would have thought flash would already be in cars given the shock and temperature requirements. I was surprised to hear a 2.5" drive in the dash of my car powering the navigation system.

Re:Reliability needs (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43642845)

I would be surprised if it was a HDD powering your navigation system.
I work at a infotainment supplier to Toyota and GM, and until the 2011 model the navigation ran from a DVD; CompactFlash was 2011 and the next models will run from SD cards.

The whole process is just slow.

Re:Reliability needs (2)

NJRoadfan (1254248) | about a year ago | (#43642905)

Its an Audi MMI 3G+ system with Google Earth and Audi Connect GSM, new for 2012&13 models. It was sourced from Harman-Becker. It likely shares some hardware design with the older 3G system from 2009.

Re:Reliability needs (1)

beelsebob (529313) | about a year ago | (#43642947)

What makes you think older tech is more reliable?

Re:Reliability needs (3, Interesting)

jellomizer (103300) | about a year ago | (#43643067)

It is a common misconception from Techy Guys. They look at old technology with the blinding light of nostalgia. Often confusing equipment they bought 20 years ago that cost thousands of dollars and comparing them against their modern counterpart that cost a few hundred bucks.

Re:Reliability needs (4, Insightful)

beelsebob (529313) | about a year ago | (#43643289)

Often confusing equipment they bought 20 years ago that cost thousands of dollars and comparing them against their modern counterpart that cost a few hundred bucks.

Interesting, I always assumed that it had an element of confirmation bias to it. "I have a hard disk from 20 years ago that still works" gets conflated with "hard disks from 20 years ago last 20 years", as they ignore all the disks that had failed.

Re:Reliability needs (4, Insightful)

dpilot (134227) | about a year ago | (#43643223)

There has been enough time for it to have a known reliability - time enough to measure it.

It may well be that new tech is more reliable - but there hasn't been time to measure that. By the time there is, today's new tech will be tomorrow's old tech.

Accelerated life testing is all well and good, but sometimes there are new mechanisms that aren't kicked out by the old testing. Nothing beats time in grade like time in grade. Twas ever thus when life and liability is on the line.

Makes no sense (1)

grimJester (890090) | about a year ago | (#43642985)

Laptops also have reliability needs and there are quite modern laptop HDDs that have been used in millions of laptops for months. Also, the car industry's lack of standardization is irrelevant as the form factors of HDDs have been standardized for ages. Thirdly, (you did mention flash) SSDs have none of the problems of moving parts and cost little compared to a car.

The only problem I can think of is temperature. Don't know what temperature ranges an USB stick can handle and what's normally used for outdoors storage.

Re:Makes no sense (3, Insightful)

Joce640k (829181) | about a year ago | (#43643147)

Laptops don't have thousands of lawyers constantly watching them and salivating over the possibility of a class-action lawsuit.

(they only have hundreds...)

If I was the boss of a car manufacturing company, I'd be cautious about everything. Nerdy customers moaning over the size of the onboard storage would be a distant second.

Re:Reliability needs (1)

fermion (181285) | about a year ago | (#43643227)

As far as I can tell, Ford will warranty things like this for three years. While some drive manufacturers still give a three year warranty, segate and western digital are in some cases reducing the warranty period to one year. Furthermore, while desktop drives are up to terabytes, it is still common to see mobile drives at the half terabyte level.

This is a silly complaint, again imposing some sort of conspiracy that keeps our birthright technology out of out hands. It is why my 2005 still has a CD player. Not because the car is built for reliability, not gizmo, but because the greedy corporations are keeping stuff away from us. Which is true in a sense, but really it is our expectation for cars to just work. Which given our need to connect is increasingly not working.

BS! (1)

DarthVain (724186) | about a year ago | (#43643285)

This makes sense from a "Mars Rover" perspective, when they do the design they only have access to 3MP camera technology, or 8GB flash drives, etc...

However to say the same about your F150 Truck? Sorry it isn't that special.

Lack of Equipment specialization? BS again! There are tons of technological standards, and most of them are more less stable. Look at PC's the last 10 years. Every now again again you might have to make a slight change to procedure, but it is basically the same.

What is FAR more likely is car/truck makers like to make everything themselves. To design every component. The reason for this is so you can't easily replace anything. You need to buy their parts. Go to their dealer. Hell, even stupid stuff like bolts and screws are custom, so you have to go and buy a 20$ plastic screw rather than a 0.05 cent one. The same with their electronic components. The fact that they have to design every part also means that of course they are behind the curve, A) because it is just more work to do, and B) because they are a stupid car/truck maker not a technology expert.

Anyway I call BS on that whole idea and have zero sympathy for the lot. Sooner or later one of the car/truck makers will realize that it is a better path to just make a great car/truck and leave the technological stuff to companies that do that for a living. Heck top gear has reviewed enough horrible GPS designed by particular car designer for their cars, or terrible control UI, etc...

Pardon the pun. but stop trying to reinvent the wheel everything time you use technology and use common components.

Keep the tech out of the car (5, Insightful)

ModernGeek (601932) | about a year ago | (#43642639)

There is no reason to have all of this junk in a new car. The only thing one needs is a USB charging port and an aux in for the smartphone to play audio through the cars audio system. Anything else the car does will be done poorly and until more standardization ensues, shouldn't be done. Where there is standardization, there is prosperity (USB, 3.5mm audio, Bluetooth, 12V power plugs)

Re:Keep the tech out of the car (2)

jeffmeden (135043) | about a year ago | (#43642773)

There is no reason to have all of this junk in a new car. The only thing one needs is a USB charging port and an aux in for the smartphone to play audio through the cars audio system. Anything else the car does will be done poorly and until more standardization ensues, shouldn't be done. Where there is standardization, there is prosperity (USB, 3.5mm audio, Bluetooth, 12V power plugs)

Dead on. The first thought I had was "why would I want a 1TB hard drive in my car? By the time the 3 months elapsed for the content to be fetched, it would all be out of date!" A smartphone (or other personal electronic device du jour) is in a much better position to be the downloading/processing/storing device in the car, just give it as many good options as possible for the content to be used, and maybe a few good ways for the device to fit (factory smartphone "nest" in the dash? please?)

Of course, selling a car with "just" a good bluetooth system and a decent sounding stereo doesn't really turn heads, so we can be sure to see all of this stuff proliferate on all mid-range and high-end cars.

Re:Keep the tech out of the car (1)

SJHillman (1966756) | about a year ago | (#43642799)

My smartphone holds 2GB, so I don't bother with it. Instead, I keep a bunch of CDs in my car to play music. If I had a smartphone with 100GB, I would probably still keep the CDs in my car so I don't need to worry about grabbing my phone or other portable device with a use outside of the vehicle (not to mention attracting theft if left inside the vehicle) every time I want to go for a ride. I'd much rather see a car radio with an SD card slot. This way, I have the option of leaving a 64GB card in there with the music I want, or swapping around a bunch of lower capacity cards. And if I wanted to, I could even swap a single card between my car, tablet and phone.

Re:Keep the tech out of the car (2)

X0563511 (793323) | about a year ago | (#43642975)

I plug a 32gb flash drive into my car. Screw CDs...

Re:Keep the tech out of the car (0)

jedidiah (1196) | about a year ago | (#43643087)

Even as physical media, CDs are way behind the curve. My previous car stereo from my previous car had an in-dash DVD player that decoded MP3.

DVDs are a pretty decent size in terms of capacity and splitting up a decent sized music collection.

Still just use the USB port on the current head unit though.

It's hard to argue against a single bit of media that can hold everything.

safety tech (4, Interesting)

schlachter (862210) | about a year ago | (#43642989)

the tech I care about is safety related...I can't wait until all this stuff is standard equip

blindspot detection
lane departure
collision detection
adaptive cruise control
electronic brake distribution / ABS
navigation

Re:Keep the tech out of the car (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43643037)

No. Not correct. I want MTP support so that I can see the track titles and other metadata from the tracks on the phone directly on the car's display. It makes no sense to control playback through the phone when this can be done on a built in display using controls on the steering wheel.

Re: Keep the tech out of the car (1)

ModernGeek (601932) | about a year ago | (#43643187)

It doesn't make any sense to use your device when your steering wheel and head unit have controls, but there should be a standard for controlling media devices, and MTP is a locked down proprietary Microsoft standard that isn't what we all want in our vehicles.

Re:Keep the tech out of the car (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | about a year ago | (#43643089)

I agree that there probably needs to be less tech in cars. What there does need to be however, is more standardization. Does it really make sense to have so many custom parts on every different model of car? A hard drive for a PC is so cheap because the same hard drive will work in just about every type of desktop/server/laptop computer sold. Cars seem to be the exact opposite. Parts of cars often aren't even interchangeable between different option packages from cars of the same model/year. And things are almost never shared across manufacturers.

Re:Keep the tech out of the car (1)

dpilot (134227) | about a year ago | (#43643273)

Standardization solves your problem and mine, but that's not the carmakers' problem. His problem is to keep selling cars, and for the very reason you and I would like standardization it hurts their business. Our priorities are not aligned.

Re:Keep the tech out of the car (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43643117)

I must be totally out of touch. I've never heard of a car with a hard drive in it. WTF?
What would I use that 10GB of storage for? I understand cars have computers in them, but to control timing and fuel injection and stuff, right?

Re:Keep the tech out of the car (2)

Sarten-X (1102295) | about a year ago | (#43643127)

Wishful thinking, I'm afraid.

Standardization is important to nerds and manufacturers, but it's not the source of profit for car manufacturers, especially in the luxury market. When somebody's buying a new computer, they look at the number of USB ports and consider what kind of future capabilities the machine will have. When buying a car, they look at the gadgets and think about what features they get now. It doesn't matter if the stereo can't be upgraded with new codecs. What matters is that it plays music from an internal MP3 library now. When the salesman says the car can "play movies", the buyer doesn't think about the need to load those movies using a proprietary Java program that only runs on Windows XP. That hands-free calling looks great as a bullet point, but only one in a hundred buyers will notice that it doesn't work with some particular brand of phone.

The manufacturers can get away with this because cars are an infrequent purchase. If a customer gets burned by a poorly-working feature, they'll forget about it by the time they're ready to make their next purchase, by which time all of the features' trademarked names will change and the salesmen will say how vastly improved the new system is.

Standards are future-proofing, but car buyers are firmly planted in the world of today.

THE CLOUD! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43642653)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8cp_uwr-7lY

I can barely wait to have a car engine powered by THE CLOUD!

Re:THE CLOUD! (2)

cheatch (1713998) | about a year ago | (#43642755)

Always Connected DRM Car, its the wave of the future.

Re:THE CLOUD! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43643171)

"Welcome to the 'Clippy and Bob' show, now playing through your Zune ME sound system. Where would you like to go today?"

Re: THE CLOUD! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43643233)

Wave of the future, wave of the future, wave of the future, wave of the future, wave of the future ...

All are following Tesla. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43642659)

What you described is Tesla with one exception. You CAN upgrade the hardware. It has not been announced, yet, but it is possible to do so. In time, they will also open the API to allow others to develop apps for it.

Re:All are following Tesla. (1)

jrumney (197329) | about a year ago | (#43642753)

In time they will also give birth to cute little ponies. It has not been announced, yet, but it is possible to do so.

the gizmos = huge pr0fit$ (2, Insightful)

alen (225700) | about a year ago | (#43642669)

first it was car DVD players with LCD screens
then navigation
now infotainment systems

these are normally $2000 upgrades on top of the most expensive models. these are huge profit upsell for what are essentially fairly cheap and old tech. MP3 players were around 15 years ago. it doesn't take a lot of CPU power to play an MP3 and fast forward the songs

Re:the gizmos = huge pr0fit$ (4, Informative)

SJHillman (1966756) | about a year ago | (#43642851)

That's because a lot of manufacturers bundle together unrelated systems for upgrade packages. Want in-dash navigation? You have to get our Deluxe Travelling Upgrade for only $2499, which includes a moonroof, spoiler and complimentary handjob.

Re:the gizmos = huge pr0fit$ (5, Funny)

berashith (222128) | about a year ago | (#43643339)

how frequent is the handjob?

and MP3s (2)

BonThomme (239873) | about a year ago | (#43642671)

The top o' the line factory MP3 player in our 2013 Sienna trips all over itself if it encounters a non-standard bitrate. My 3 year old, low budget aftermarket player one takes whatever I throw at it.

HDD in cars? I sure hope not. (1)

phizi0n (1237812) | about a year ago | (#43642679)

I would be very displeased if I bought a car that uses a mechanical drive that is going to get bumped around and severely damaged by a cars movement. I would expect that the car uses flash memory. 10GB of flash is still incredibly cheap (~$10) so I would expect more, but comparing desktop HDD capacity to that of a car's is asinine.

Re:HDD in cars? I sure hope not. (1)

jeffmeden (135043) | about a year ago | (#43642803)

I would be very displeased if I bought a car that uses a mechanical drive that is going to get bumped around and severely damaged by a cars movement. I would expect that the car uses flash memory. 10GB of flash is still incredibly cheap (~$10) so I would expect more, but comparing desktop HDD capacity to that of a car's is asinine.

It probably is flash (even 4 years ago 10gb was cheap) but consumers understand "hard drive" more than the jumble of explanations like "Flash" or "memory" or heaven forbid "solid state storage"...

Re:HDD in cars? I sure hope not. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43642921)

The OS runs from internal flash memory, however the navigation system database was all on DVD until recently, when they started to move to CF and SD cards.

Re:HDD in cars? I sure hope not. (1)

CCarrot (1562079) | about a year ago | (#43643083)

I would be very displeased if I bought a car that uses a mechanical drive that is going to get bumped around and severely damaged by a cars movement. I would expect that the car uses flash memory. 10GB of flash is still incredibly cheap (~$10) so I would expect more, but comparing desktop HDD capacity to that of a car's is asinine.

Agreed.

I do wonder, however, how well your average flash storage stands up to severe, sometimes rapid temperature cycling? My Google-fu must be a bit foggy today, since I can't seem to find any independent testing data, and I'm sure it's out there somewhere...

Meh. I could see permanent on-board storage being useful for movies in minivans, maybe. At least it keeps the kids from having to swap discs on long car rides...but even that use case is quite hindered if you're restricted to 10 GB, unless your kids want to watch nothing but, say, the same three seasons of spongebob...over...and over...and over...

On the other hand, give me a USB or SDHC port (and something behind the dash that can read what I put on there) and I'm happy as a clam on a long road trip :o)

Re:HDD in cars? I sure hope not. (1)

msauve (701917) | about a year ago | (#43643265)

I wonder how all those people got away with using their hard drive based iPods in their cars for so long.

Aftermarket (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43642685)

People who really care about cockpit entertainment will go through the trouble to have aftermarket equipment installed. This was true 40 years ago and it's the same today.

Re:Aftermarket (1)

CaptSlaq (1491233) | about a year ago | (#43643027)

People who really care about cockpit entertainment will go through the trouble to have aftermarket equipment installed. This was true 40 years ago and it's the same today.

There are damn few aftermarket in-dash head units I consider well designed enough to put in a vehicle. Wake me when the majority pull their heads out of their collective asses and recognize that tiny buttons suck, touchscreens suck MORE, and that occasionally I wear gloves when inside the car.

I have ONE job when I'm in the driver's seat: Driving. Anything that helps me focus on that more is a win. Having to look down at a stereo to figure out where the hell the function I want to use is does NOT do that. There have been a handful of double-din units that succeed at this. Despite the disparaging comment, most factory head units are designed with the idea that someone may want to use it without having to look at it.

Better than Uncle Sammy (2)

SanDogWeps (2882399) | about a year ago | (#43642705)

Our tech in the Department of the Navy is 10 years old right out of the gate... Tape backup drives, 80/86 processors, bowling alley displays for Combat Information Center. And these things are showing up on newly commissioned warships! Perspective folks - suddenly Ford and their ilk aren't so bad... :-/

Re:Better than Uncle Sammy (1)

alen (225700) | about a year ago | (#43642913)

modern tape drives are faster than disks and a lot more reliable

a few hundred LTO-4 tapes i have prove it. not a single failure

Re:Better than Uncle Sammy (1)

SanDogWeps (2882399) | about a year ago | (#43643051)

Modern tape drives - I do not doubt your tale. The sad state of our end is that we're using tape drives that are 10-15 years old.

Re:Better than Uncle Sammy (3, Informative)

SJHillman (1966756) | about a year ago | (#43642931)

The Antarctic research bases make your Navy tech look bleeding edge. It's all about how reliable you need something and older tech typically has few or no "unknown bugs" left to stumble upon.

Ford Explorer - If electronics fail, worst case is you have to call a tow truck. More likely, you just need to switch to AM/FM until you get around to fixing the radio.

Warship - Worst case, you get blown up. More likely, you'd have to withdraw from combat for a bit and can get a replacement flown in within a few days.

Antarctic Research base - Very limited supplies and the potential to go six months in darkness until a replacement can be flown in.

Re:Better than Uncle Sammy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43643085)

as a software developer for a defense agency, i feel your pain! it's not like we WANT to be actively developing for the SPARC platform in 2013, believe me. but there are a a ton of reasons(some of them even good reasons) why it's basically impossible to implement something cutting edge in this sector.

Re:Better than Uncle Sammy (1)

alen (225700) | about a year ago | (#43643309)

the navy did try to go high tech in the 90's with SQL server on warships. a divide by zero bug crippled the ship for a few weeks

It's all about the money (1)

MLBs (2637825) | about a year ago | (#43642729)

The manufacturers have a higher margin from replacement parts than from the car itself. If they make standardized interchangeable components, then after market competition would slash those margins.
They simply like things the way they are now.

A $15 dollar SD car gives me more. (3, Insightful)

Picass0 (147474) | about a year ago | (#43642735)

Honestly, if they can't keep up they shouldn't even pretend. I'm sick of cars that have overworked electronics that are just waiting to fail. I don't want my car to be a computer.

I'd like to see a car maker have the courage to go in the opposite direction - simpler engineering that's easier and more affordable to maintain over the life of a vehicle.

Back in the 50's and 60's it was much easier for a kid to pop the hood and learn to tear down and rebuild an engine. Now it requires specialized tools. You don't see as many self taught gearheads.

Re:A $15 dollar SD car gives me more. (2, Insightful)

alen (225700) | about a year ago | (#43642891)

that's because cars broke down a lot and doing the work yourself saved a lot of money

modern cars will go a hundred thousand miles before a $350 service to replace some worn out parts. and even more before real components start to fail. no reason to learn to fix a car anymore except for the very basics. waste of time.

as far as GUI, my Honda CR-V has a nice GUI to show me the speed, mileage, and other data. Google and some of the other data fiends are going into the wrong direction with apps that try to bombard you with useless data

Re:A $15 dollar SD car gives me more. (1)

mark_lybarger (199098) | about a year ago | (#43643201)

your timing belt, water pump, other belt replacement is 350$? i just spent 1200 for mine. that's not chump change. most shops end up at 350 for a standard brake pad replacement every couple of years.

Re:A $15 dollar SD car gives me more. (5, Insightful)

H3lldr0p (40304) | about a year ago | (#43642909)

The problem here is that you will loose a lot of the things which make the engines smaller (better managing of head-gasket displacement, so smaller bore and stroke to get the same amount of power), more efficient (direct fuel injection and stroke cycles), less polluting (no need for a leaded fuel to get burn and temperatures necessary for combustion not to mention the catalytic converters), quieter (see the previous reasons), and generally more pleasant to be around as I am not choking on the smog created by the engine when it is started up.

I, for one, like to have all of those things in my car and any future cars I wish to purchase. Of course those things will require special tools. Working on engines have always required special tools.

There is a certain amount of missing the forest for the trees in your statement, I feel.

Re:A $15 dollar SD car gives me more. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43642919)

Honestly, if they can't keep up they shouldn't even pretend. I'm sick of cars that have overworked electronics that are just waiting to fail. I don't want my car to be a computer.

I'd like to see a car maker have the courage to go in the opposite direction - simpler engineering that's easier and more affordable to maintain over the life of a vehicle.

Back in the 50's and 60's it was much easier for a kid to pop the hood and learn to tear down and rebuild an engine. Now it requires specialized tools. You don't see as many self taught gearheads.

you won't see much of this anymore due to emissions regulations and safety. Complex computer controls are required for cleaner burning engines that still perform the way drivers expect. Safety systems are also tied into the same PCM based via CAN network to ensure it all talks and works together. I"m a bit of a gearhead myself and generally limit myself to cars that are 10 years behind the curve just to still keep up with relatively current technology but that being said, the era of the simple automobile you could fix without specialized tools (you still can yourself, you just made need tools and training) is over.

Re:A $15 dollar SD car gives me more. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43642977)

You're right - up to a point.

Modern engines (for example) have electronically controlled injection and all kinds of other fuel-saving and power-increasing mechanisms that just wouldn't be possible using mechanical linkages.

That said, there is much that could be done to make a solid third-party repairable car - I guess the big manufacturers and parts suppliers just don't see the value proposition ;-)

I agree, although where there is a will... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43642983)

I remember a mechanical welder friend that tore down his entire dodge ram engine. I came over and he had the entire engine block completely disabled in his living room (lol, yeah he had a mullet). I remember asking him in shock if he had ever done an engine rebuild, he said "nope" as he puffed on a joint as he casually inspected a part. 2 weeks later his truck was back on the rode, its now up to 500k miles. : p

Re:A $15 dollar SD car gives me more. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43642999)

Most people don't even bother changing their own oil let alone tinkering.

It's the same with motorcycles, so many parts now you'd need a clean room to disassemble

But there's that dang fuel efficiency then hey?

Re:A $15 dollar SD car gives me more. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43643203)

Some brands from less-rich countries have a market for simple and low-maintenance cars. You have Tata Motors in India and Dacia Logan in Romania. (These cars might be available worldwild under different names depending on corporate agreements, for example the Logan is branded as Nissan Aprio in Mexico.)

Re:A $15 dollar SD car gives me more. (1)

jimbolauski (882977) | about a year ago | (#43643363)

Honestly, if they can't keep up they shouldn't even pretend. I'm sick of cars that have overworked electronics that are just waiting to fail. I don't want my car to be a computer.

I'd like to see a car maker have the courage to go in the opposite direction - simpler engineering that's easier and more affordable to maintain over the life of a vehicle.

Back in the 50's and 60's it was much easier for a kid to pop the hood and learn to tear down and rebuild an engine. Now it requires specialized tools. You don't see as many self taught gearheads.

All the efficiency and emissions improvements are brought to you by electronics. Do you want things like fuel injection and pick up 10-20% horse power and efficiency because each cylinder gets exactly the correct fuel air mixture as compared to a carburetor? How about traction control and abs? Rear Defroster? There are 1000's of improvements that electronics made to cars that you are overlooking. Further the electronics in the car make many things easier to replace, sensors can tell we which spark-plug to replace or if any of the sensors are acting up, unplugging and replacing a sensor is not that difficult.

so to better understand this (5, Informative)

nimbius (983462) | about a year ago | (#43642795)

car companies intend to offer software upgradable vehicles through 4G connectivity and data storage and entertainment streaming through the cloud

in english: car companies are and will continue to be behind the curve because most technology has to be tested to ensure it does not affect the engine control module, electronic stability computer, or other critical systems necessary to have a car in the 21st century. a 10gb drive may be ok, but a 1tb drive with different geometric characteristics may result in a current induction or RF interference that overrides TPMS and reports tires as too low, or for example triggers impact pre-sensors for the airbags (or worse, enabling a multistage airbag for a passenger under 45 pounds.) Having worked for a major asian automotive manufacturer, i've personally seen RF emitted from a hybrid vehicle transmission that caused unpredictable, unintentional airbag detonation. after 6 months of additional testing it had been resolved before the vehicle entered production, but the fix produced another bug that resulted in TBW signal corruption and a sharp vehicle accelleration, followed by a forced shutdown as the vehicle detected the condition.

TL;DR: your car has more technology than most people readily consider. slow and steady is a good thing.

Re:so to better understand this (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43642897)

Having worked for a major asian automotive manufacturer, i've personally seen RF emitted from a hybrid vehicle transmission that caused unpredictable, unintentional airbag detonation. after 6 months of additional testing it had been resolved before the vehicle entered production, but the fix produced another bug that resulted in TBW signal corruption and a sharp vehicle accelleration, followed by a forced shutdown as the vehicle detected the condition.

As if I needed additional reasons to avoid Asian cars.

iPhone dock (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43642801)

So, the Lightning docks will come out in the 2016 models, then?

Re:iPhone dock (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43642957)

I don't think car manufacturers will make the mistake of adopting a single vendor's proprietary docking system again.

Bad idea. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43642821)

I like computers and electronics. Really.

But the car is one place they just don't belong.

Giant distraction while driving (and most of you can't drive for shit to begin with.)
Forced obsolescence.
Higher ongoing costs. (i know someone who had to pay $200 for a SOFTWARE update to his car... blew my mind. dealer wouldnt touch it without that update.)
More things to fail and render the car useless.
Higher cost for cars that don't last very long at all compared to 20 years ago.

Anything beyond GPS is just extra crap we don't really need at all.
And even GPS has its problems as people spend more time watching that than the road. Or they 'don't trust' the gps. yet also don't know where they are going exactly anyway.

Computers and electronics in cars leads to wasted money and people dying. For very little gain. Bad deal.

Am I the only one? (5, Insightful)

TheRealMindChild (743925) | about a year ago | (#43642825)

Am I the only one that doesn't want a car that needs software updates?

Re:Am I the only one? (1)

slashmydots (2189826) | about a year ago | (#43642927)

Am I the only one that doesn't want a car that needs software updates?

You're missing out on all the pre-patching, best testing, out of control Prius going 88MPH on the highway adrenaline rush though.

Re:Am I the only one? (1)

afidel (530433) | about a year ago | (#43642937)

Yes. Or at least you're by far in the minority. The auto manufacturers have seen that gadgets sell new cars and are a way to differentiate themselves from the competition so if you think you'll see less features from here on out you're mistaken. The only refuge will probably be stripped work vehicles (Ford Sprinter vans and the like) or high end road legal race cars.

Re:Am I the only one? (1)

virgnarus (1949790) | about a year ago | (#43643029)

"Engine halted. Firmware update in progress. Please wait."

Re:Am I the only one? (1)

cdrudge (68377) | about a year ago | (#43643355)

Depends on what is being updated. I don't want a car where the ECM, BCM, or any other * control module needs updated except on the very rare occasion.

If I have a nav system, entertainment package, satellite radio, or some other software-controlled electronic device that isn't necessary for the continued safe operation of the vehicle, then yes I want it able to be updated and/or upgraded.

I'd rather... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43642893)

... see them stick to putting a good sound system (with possibly an equalizer) into a car, along with a small headphone jack. This would let me plug the player of my choice in and maintain separate functions where it's appropriate to do so. If they want to be fancy, and it's sonically reasonable (*) to do so, they can have it bluetooth capable so that I can dispense with the patch cable. I don't want to see extra, basically obsolete hardware/software rammed into the car (and cost thereof). Similarly, I don't want to see automobile features rammed into my handhelds...

(*) doesn't sound like %!*&#, tinny AM radio...

wait a minute (1)

slashmydots (2189826) | about a year ago | (#43642911)

The hardware may be 4 years old but the software and RF security is at least pre-1980's, lol.

4 years (1)

BradleyUffner (103496) | about a year ago | (#43642941)

I assure you, the technology in my car is FAR more than 4 years out of date.

honda plays from USB sticks and iphones (1)

alen (225700) | about a year ago | (#43642969)

the stereo in my honda CR-v has a USB port. i plug in my iphone 5 and it plays from the device and from the different radio apps. it can also play from a USB stick.

what's the point of a hard drive?

Standard DIN anyone? (4, Insightful)

bertomatic (2743049) | about a year ago | (#43642993)

International standard ISO 7736. Cars have had "modular infotainment systems" for as long as I can remember. My old Z car had an am radio, that later upgraded to FM cassette, then added a 6-disc CD changer, then when the changer finally died, yanked it all, installed a flip out 7" LCD w/bluetooth, NAVi, Pandora, etc. Every car I ever owned eventually got some kind of upgrade to the "infotainment system." What I see happening is bluetooth taking the show, and your phone does everything else, the car would only have an amp, speakers, touchscreen, and bluetooth, that is all, it doesn't NEED a hd, no 4G, no disks, no computer, nothing. Want an upgrade? Get a new phone, or may only need an app for that.

HP isn't immune either (0)

slashmydots (2189826) | about a year ago | (#43643005)

I run a computer repair and custom builds shop and this is the same reason I crush HP, my #1 competitor. By the time they're done ordering, testing, writing documentation, assembling, shipping, and then reselling their PCs, it's like 6+ months later. I use SSD drives that just came out. They're probably just shipping Pyro and Vertex 3 drives in their laptops and PCs, lol. Oh wait, they're HP, so it's probably Adata, SSDNow, and Sandisk. They're very anti-good parts over at HP, as a company policy.
I build a computer order to delivery in about 4 days so customers get the latest, fastest everything. Take that, bulky competitors! Unfortunately, there's really nothing like that in the car world.

Standards (1)

Wowsers (1151731) | about a year ago | (#43643023)

Having standard connectors could cut costs for car manufacturers. If you've ever replaced a car radio for your own instead of cheapo car radio, you run into the problem of needing different adapters to connect into a cars wiring loom.

How difficult is it to have manufacturers use ONE connector for +ve, GND, +VCC (for memory backup), and maybe one aux wire for security. Then there's the speakers connections! The car radio manufacturers have standardised more or less, but the car manufacturers have not.

Re:Standards (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43643237)

You only cut costs if the increase in quantity gives you a greater discount. At most of the big manufacturers' volumes it probably doesn't really matter.

That's fine with me. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43643031)

I don't want to be using my car as an entertainment room or office anyway. If I ever get to the point where I feel like I need complete computer access in my vehicle, I am spending way too much time commuting and I need to change jobs or lifestyles.

Maybe I am old-school in the car department but I really don't want my automobile dependent on a computer for anything, truth be told. I'm happy with my 1998 Corolla... may it keep running at least until the Singularity/Robopocalypse :)

Same reason NASA uses older hardware (2)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | about a year ago | (#43643061)

You don't want to find out about an SSD read/write bug when you're 1 billion miles from earth. Let the technology shake out the bugs, then buy a reliable, cheaper product.

Re:Same reason NASA uses older hardware (1)

kaizendojo (956951) | about a year ago | (#43643179)

I was just typing the same thing when I looked up and saw your subject line. (Great minds and all that.... :-) ) You use what is proven and debugged and known. You don't use bleeding edge technology in a vehicle becuase of the consequences of systems failures and how it may intereact with the other technologies. BTW, I own a Ford Fusion Hybrid and I'm quite pleased with the onboard tech.

Is It Too much to ask? (1)

avandesande (143899) | about a year ago | (#43643093)

How about a cd player that doesn't start going haywire after a few years of use?

Designed for Automotive (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43643155)

The other big problem the car people have is that they have a fetish for "Designed for Automotive".. They will only buy stuff/parts that they think has been designed especially for them, because they think they are very special. For example, in cars, you won't find any Snapdragon processors, only Tegra and Intel, because they aggressively marketing their products as "designed for automotive", but Qualcomm isn't..

Ford? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43643195)

Ford? You mean the company that dropped from the top of Consumer Reports quality rankings [consumerreports.org] in 2009, to 23rd out of 26 [businessinsider.com] in 2012? Where the only changes made to their vehicles were superficial adding of Microsoft SYNC, which was so disastrous that it had to be re-branded "MyFordTouch" and "MyLincolnTouch" and users are still frustrated? (note: I'm not referring to their refresh of engines for model year 2013, that won't be reflected until next year's Consumer Reports).

Now they are offering hour long classes for customers to learn the new system. Why do I have to spend an hour learning how to use my radio?

Yeah, good luck with that. Microsoft is shitting all over Ford even though they had started showing signs of life after the recession.

Cars have design targets beyond multimedia support (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43643211)

Car equipment makers design for 10+ year reliability, operation over extreme temp ranges, and "playing nice" with other, more safety-critical systems. Then there is the testing and validation to prove all of that out. The radio should last as long as the car, and should work in winter conditions in AK to desert conditions in AZ.

Consumer-grade products, even aftermarket products targeted at Automotive, do not typically put this effort into designs.

Not all car companies or even design groups within a company are where they want to be in hitting reliability targets, but the targets generally exist for everyone.

I weep for automotive future (2)

sinij (911942) | about a year ago | (#43643313)

>>> Instead, car companies intend to offer software upgradable vehicles through 4G connectivity

This is fundamentally bad idea. Ability to remotely modify anything on a car is a disaster waiting to happen. Cars still last 15-20 years, what decade-old security or cryptography do you still trust in your everyday computing?

I can already see buffer overflow into root, then pushing custom firmware that interprets any accelerator input as maximum throttle and overrides braking by using traction control to redirect it to a single front wheel resulting in a spin-out.

All of this sucks (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43643325)

All of these infotainment systems suck. All you need is a radio, but in my moms new ford with sync, you have to press 5 buttons to even change a radio station. No one needs this BS.

My car is 16 years old (1)

BenSchuarmer (922752) | about a year ago | (#43643337)

it does all the things a car should do just fine, thanx

Automotive development time (5, Informative)

BenJeremy (181303) | about a year ago | (#43643345)

I spent 3 years (2003~2006) working with a company to deliver MP3 Car Stereos for GM. I believe they still deliver vehicles with them, but keep in mind, very little change had occurred in car stereos before that. Telematics (Auto PCs) had been worked on, too, I was involved with projects at Visteon and Lear, but that was 1999~2002 time frame, and the technology just wasn't there.

There is also a lot more to development of automotive ANYTHING. Electronics have to be a lot more robust (-40degF~140degF, high humidity, vibration, shock, etc...), materials used have to match the car interiors (and be properly made to not fade 'differently' from the rest). Once a product is usable, it goes through a lot of tweaking, as product line engineers determine calibrations to set (like lighting, for example). Failure Modes need to be sorted out to make it as bullet-proof as possible.

Oh, and LOTS AND LOTS of testing. On the bench, in the cars...

We had looked at jumpstarting more advanced tech, like HDDs in the radios to act as radio 'DVRs' and store user's audio tracks. At the time, drives were cost prohibitive and there were still too many legal issues to make it practical.

Mix in the regulatory issues like Driver Distraction, and an immature market, and there are good reasons why design hasn't settled down yet. It's just not as simple as throwing in a general purpose PC with a touchscreen mounted to the dash.

Five years ago, we (drivers) were all buying dedicated GPS units - now we get those features in our smart phones and tablets and desire integration into the car. Dashcams are all the rage in Russia, and probably should be everywhere else. Cars are getting smarter with vision systems (having worked on some of those systems now in use, you cannot imagine just how complicated those are) that do everything from detecting lane changes, signs and oncoming headlights (to dim brights) to braking for unexpected hazards.

The problem with this, and why I bring it up, is that we have no idea what form factors and features we'll demand in 5 years. Automotive, much like mobile, is undergoing tremendous growth where automation is concerned. Unlike mobile, there are still a lot of things computers can do for us as features of our cars that we really haven't fully figured out yet.

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