In 2015, we will see new cars functioning more like iPhones and iPads, offering software updates every few months to accommodate consumer needs. Instead of trading your car in for a newer model every two years, you can simply download the app or update the car’s software to get the newest safety and entertainment technology. These software updates and apps can increase fuel efficiency, read road signs, judge distance between cars, and find an available parking spot near your destination. Thomas Weber, the development chief for Mercedes-Benz, observed, “We are entering a new era. Until now, cars retained the properties they had on the day they were purchased.”
Car manufacturers are counting on consumers’ ever-expanding need to remain connected at all times, even while driving. While consumers may have short attention spans when it comes to their smartphones, it remains to be seen whether the same will apply with software in their cars. Software upgrades can come with glitches and can increase the complexity of operating the vehicle.
Recently, Ford suffered the brunt of technological updates through their heavily criticized touch screen systems. To make their cars more like a smartphone, these car manufacturers replaced almost all dashboard knobs and buttons with a touch screen system. Consumers found this system frustrating as it overcomplicated the driving experience. As a result, Ford plummeted to the bottom of the reliability rankings.
Software updates also create the potential for hackers. If car manufacturers are going to replace hardware updates with apps and software updates, they will have to take extra security and engineering measures to protect the software from bugs and outside intrusions that result in enormous recalls as seen in the Toyota unintended acceleration cases.
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