The Automobile Industry or for that matter any industry has genuinely started to saturate rather rapidly in the past couple of years, and manufacturers have resorted to creating “wants” in the garb of “pseudo needs” to drive their sales numbers. We understand that all manufacturers need to sell new vehicles in order to remain in business and the best way of enticing new buyers is to put forth a more compelling product which is made easier by adding in new “features” but sometimes things can go straight from being innovative to downright illogical.
Although many newer vehicles do come with certain amenities that do make our life easier, after all, there has to be a certain reason why someone would go out and shell out for a brand new vehicle when he can go and buy something for 1/3rd of its original MSRP, case in point, if you plan to buy a used BMW M3, there are certain gimmicks that have crept onto the automobile scene that we definitely believe could be done without!
- Digital rear-view mirror
Made popular by Cadillac just a few years prior, the digital rear-view mirror definitely has logical origins. The basic idea of the Digital Rear-View Mirror is pretty straightforward as it utilizes a rear-facing camera similar to the regular reversing camera unit but outputs the display to a dual function IRVM which is able to switch between a regular IRVM and a display for the camera. This enables the vehicle to provide you with an unobstructed view of what is behind you thereby eliminating any blind spots that do appear in the regular IRVM mode.
Although it is tough to gauge initially why the digital rear-view mirror is more of a fad than a necessity apart from the added electronic complexity, we certainly believe that once you are exposed to the tech for just about 10 miles or so, the shortcomings become pretty apparent.
The technology pretty much falls flat on its face since it becomes extremely difficult for an individual to adjust to the perception shift due to the camera angle placement thereby increasing the risk of an accident instead of lowering it and all in all completely negating any positive impact the technology has. Yes, certain use cases and individuals could benefit from this technology, but for the most part, it is more or less a cumbersome operation.
- Digital Touch Controls
As we move towards the technological age where most devices offer a touch-based input system, it isn’t surprising to see that automakers have also started to cash in on this new-age design language and therefore gone ahead and started to toss out regular old buttons and knobs in favor of touch-based haptic keys as well as displays.
We definitely like the aesthetic that certain choices like these help achieve just as much as the next guy, but if we were to debate over what is more intuitive to use? It would be pretty clear that the auto industry in this regard is evolving backward.
Although the digital controls do help a more seamless design language, we would forever argue that physical buttons reign supreme in a vehicle since they are much easier to operate even on the fly which can also definitely contribute to the vehicle being in a safer state of operation as the driver doesn’t have to take their eyes off the road to adjust something as menial as their fan speed.
- Lack of a spare wheel
Yes, this isn’t a feature per se, but the fact that most automakers have started to get rid of spare wheels in their newer products to open up some more cargo space in their trunks isn’t something that we are too fond of.
Although these spare wheels are being replaced with some decent grade tire repair kits and certain vehicles inherently come shod with run-flat tires, in our opinion the peace of mind of having a spare in the trunk can’t be trumped.
Some automakers have also made the spare wheel an optional accessory in certain cases which is the most bizarre adaptation of this “feature” to be honest.
Gesture Audio Control
This is a classic case of building up a problem that didn’t exist in the first place and then later on selling a half-baked solution to consumers. We are looking right at you BMW, for introducing gesture-based audio control to your more recent products.
This technology simply makes use of either a camera or proximity-based sensor to determine a motion in front of the screen and thereby deploying the function associated with the said gesture. Most often these gestures are associated with functions such as increasing/decreasing volume, skipping tracks, muting audio, etc. but we certainly feel that is one of the most pointless additions in a vehicle period.
Not only are these systems clunky to operate at times since the gestures don’t get registered at times, but what should be a deathly blow to this tech is the fact that old-school knobs and buttons alongside steering mounted audio controls completely negate whatever usability the system was designed to provide.
Social Media Integration
Getting Gram’ ready pictures with your new car is something that we completely understand and wholeheartedly stand to be a part of, but the fact that manufacturers have now started to integrate social media into their newer products is not just a bizarre phenomenon but also a personal safety concern.
From being able to access your social media accounts on your vehicle’s infotainment display to being able to share and post your car’s trip stats, the whole concept feels plain wrong. We personally believe that if an individual doesn’t have enough restraint to be off of their social media even when they are driving, maybe some sort of social media de-addiction help needs to be put in place.
Although we can still kind of understand that certain off-road biased vehicles can now store their off-road statistics on-board and later on publish them on the required social media interfaces, if given a choice we would much rather avoid the activity entirely as we do believe that the digital age already provides for a decent chunk of social exposure and we certainly don’t need anymore especially when driving around in a vehicle.