The 2017 Washington Auto Show celebrates all things auto Jan 27-Feb 5 at the Washington Convention Center. Here’s what I learned after attending the Washington Auto Show press preview.
Cars will continue to integrate more seamlessly with your other tech.
Many car makers now offer Apple CarPlay and/or AndroidAuto compatibility with their systems. The list of cars offering the technology expands downward in price level every year so now it’s not just a luxury car feature. Want to be on the bleeding edge? Hyundai’s ultra-luxurious Genesis (which is gorgeous, BTW) even connects with Amazon’s Alexa!
On a related note, CD players and GPS systems are going the way of the DoDo.
Cyber Security is very much still a work in progress, but there is progress.
I shared with you my deer in headlights moment last year but will save you a click. It came from a throwaway comment in a press conference with auto software techies: “Americans are numb to the risks of cyber-security in cars but will wake up quickly when a hacked car drives into a school.” Wait. WHAT?
Needless to say I followed up on the hacked-car-as-weapon-as-mass-destruction question, especially after incidents such as those in Nice and the German Christmas Markets. What I learned was somewhat mollifying. Software engineers determined one way to waylay potential bad actors is to “stovepipe” individual systems within the car. This means no one system can override the 30 others. For example: if a malcontent hacks into the acceleration, they wouldn’t be able to steer.
It’s not perfect, but definitely an improvement over last year!
Battery and plug-in hybrids are becoming more cost effective.
Last year’s auto show featured “green” technology all over the place. However, hybrids were up to 50% more expensive than gas guzzlers of the same model, even on smaller cars. I wondered last year who would pay that markup with gas being so cheap. After driving the plug in C-Max for a month I did change my tune a bit.
Gas is still pretty inexpensive, but the difference between hybrids and regular models is WAY down. Most I saw this year were in the 20-25% range more than gas models. That difference is mitigated by tax credits and other savings over the life of the car.
And they’re fast. Really fast.
I asked about the peppiness of hybrids, thinking about my experience driving the C-Max vs. driving a Prius. The Prius felt like a golf cart compared to the C-Max and I didn’t understand why. Turns out the keyword is “torque”. Electric powered engines can turn the torque way up but it burns out the power more quickly. So engineers try to strike a balance between efficiency and power and the Prius leans towards efficiency. So on highway driving the Prius does better on MPG than the C-Max as the Prius takes longer to accelerate, making the battery last longer.
However, when the battery is dialed up to 11, electric vehicles are scary fast. On display at the 2017 Washington Auto Show is the all electric Hyundai Ioniq that broke the Bonneville Salt Flats land speed record of over 157 MPH.
Women matter to car companies. A LOT.
Sites like Traveling Mom’s sister She Buys Cars work hard to get women’s voices heard by car companies and it has worked! Did you know that women influence 70 percent of car buying decisions? It makes perfect sense when you think about it, but many still see the outdated “boys and their toys” image. Not the car executives. At every step from conception to design to marketing women take a prominent seat at the table.
I’ve attended the Washington Auto Show for two years now and both times have been pleasantly surprised. I’d compare the show more to the Travel and Adventure show than an event oriented to gearheads. It’s definitely a fun way to spend a grey winter’s day.