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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883


An exciting automotive future

The automotive industry is facing an exciting and optimistic future.  Predicting what is to come is not an exact science, but there are plenty of signs that manufacturer offerings will continue to be technological marvels of change.  Prognosticators concur that the next ten years of auto innovation may well exceed that of the previous fifty years.

Some of the many directional indicators of what’s upcoming for cars and trucks is the presence of automakers at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.  The CES, which showcases the latest in consumer goods like computers, stereos, televisions, smart phones, security systems, et cetera, is currently featuring vendors like Ford Motor Company, General Motors, Volkswagen and others.

The reason they are now attending the CES is that automobiles are rapidly becoming electronic, software-driven devices that will be wirelessly connected to homes, smart-phones and one another.  Vehicle suppliers, like Bosch and Valeo, are also exhibiting their systems promising further steps toward self-driving cars and trucks.  Ford has just announced a partnership with Google’s self-driving division.

I reported last month that Toyota has recently devoted one billion dollars to study the relevance of artificial intelligence to autonomous driving.  Delphi will be supplying a communications interface for the 2017 Cadillac, allowing the car to “talk” to other vehicles, smart phones, streetlights, and eventually, a road grid network.

Electronic modernization is engulfing vehicle design in so many ways.  Features like infotainment systems, heads-up displays (holographic images within windshield), and digital rear view mirrors (cameras and electronic displays in lieu of physical mirrors) are evolving.  Manufacturers are learning that the best of those features are the ones that are the easiest to use, easiest to learn, and provide the least degree of distraction.

Manufacturers are not giving up on electric vehicles either, with General Motors and Volkswagen touting new advances in electrical propulsion at the current CES.  New technology is mainly aimed at increased range between charges, along with improved ease and quickness of charging procedures.  Range anxiety has shown to be an inhibiting factor for electric vehicle sales, and future models promise to double or triple the previous 100-mile “standard.”

Besides the computer and electronic “craze,” other factors are at play in the auto’s bright future.  Currently, a national price-per-gallon of gasoline below two bucks is fueling a sales surge.  When December figures are finalized, it looks like 2015’s U.S. vehicle sales numbers will depict the best year ever, topping the 17.4 million vehicles sold in 2000.

Beginning in Detroit, consumers will soon be able to check out the numerous 2016 models in single locations at any of the many new-vehicle auto shows presented throughout the country.  An example of those showings will occur right here during the Spokane International Auto Show which takes place February 12th through 14th at the Spokane County Fair and Expo Center. 

Within the huge indoor venue, interested consumers will have the rare chance to compare vehicles from 27 manufacturers under one roof.  Sponsored by the Spokane New Car Dealers Association, this annual show allows potential buyers to discover the latest in automotive technology, arrange road tests, talk with knowledgeable representatives and collect informational brochures.

The show has plenty of entertainment and educational substance even for those not currently in the market for a new vehicle.  Things are changing so rapidly in the automotive industry that those who don’t keep up will be left decidedly behind.

Readers may contact Bill Love via email at