If you’re a car enthusiast, chances are you’ve already gone to the Autoshow, one of the largest car shows in the world. For the rest of you, especially the techies, there are actually several cool things on display at the show even if you’re not that excited about seeing and sitting in shiny new cars. The big tech trends at this year’s Autoshow are a strong push for eco-conscious fuel and power for and bringing the information and entertainment capabilities of your computer and smartphone into your car.
Alternative Fuel Source and Powertrain
The technology for car engines powered by electricity or alternative fuels has existed for decades, but it has only been in the past several years that electric and hybrid cars are finally being sold and bought in the mainstream. At this year’s Autoshow, there’s special floor space dedicated to alternative fuel and powertrain: the CAA Eco-Drive Showcase. Besides showing off models by Toyota, Chevrolet, Nissan, and luxury brands such as Infiniti, the Eco-Drive Showcase also introduces the latest fuel-efficient technologies, as well as imparting eco-conscious driving practices to attendees. There will be battery-charging stations and a kiosk organized by the Ministry of Transportation on Ontario’s Electric Vehicle Incentive Program. If you’re shopping for a greener car after having had enough of gas prices, or if you want to learn the difference between all-electric, conventional hybrid, and plug-in hybrid cars, this is the place to be.
Many car companies are striving to bring communication, information, and entertainment in one combined package onto the dashboard. Questions about real-world use abound (i.e. is this tech trend a time-saving convenience or a dangerous distraction?), but the potential that these developments have in evolving driving experience are promising.
Starting at the lighter end, the upcoming Dodge Dart will offer a cordless cellphone recharger. Taking it further, Ford is showing its impressive MyFord Touch system, which is based on the popular Ford Sync voice-command system. With it, you can connect your mobile devices via Bluetooth so you can take and dial calls via the dashboard central touch screen or voice commands. The system can also receive text messages and read them aloud to you. There’s navigational information so you can follow directions to a destination or find traffic detours. You can play music from your mp3 player via USB and stream Internet radio stations as well. You can even control air conditioning by voice, get personalized news, and play videos on the touch screen when the car is in Park.
Honda and Cadillac both offer similar infotainment packages named i-MID (Intelligent Multi-Information Display) and CUE (Cadillac User Experience), respectively. They also use Bluetooth connectivity, touch screen, and voice commands to control phone, navigation, audio, and climate functions. Perhaps most ambitious of all is BMW. The German brand’s ConnectedDrive package offers many helpful features in addition to the infotainment capabilities already mentioned. It boasts a 3-D virtual display projected in the driver’s line of vision, showing pertinent information such as vehicle speed, upcoming street names, GPS directions, and tailgating alerts without requiring the driver to take their eyes off the road. It can also show the driver a 270-degree view of the surrounding space of the car on the central LCD screen via cameras in the centre and side mirrors; this makes backing out of a tight parking spot easier than ever. Want more features? How about Google Maps integration, night vision display of the road ahead on the LCD screen, and live agent assistance with directions, making
restaurant or hotel reservations, and making emergency calls?
Whether you’re crazy about cars, shopping for a new car, or just interested in what cars are capable of these days, the Canadian International Autoshow is definitely worth a visit.
Show Dates and Hours
10:30 A.M.-10:00 P.M. (February 17-25)
10:30 A.M.-6:00 P.M. (February 26)
If you can, buy tickets online at autoshow.ca since there’s a discount. The following are online prices:
Adult Tickets: $18.00
Children Tickets (ages 7-12): $6.30
Two-Day Pass: $27.00
Family Pass (includes two adults and two children ages 7-12): $36.00