News / USA

Auto Show Dazzles With Technology

The Washignton Auto Show floor (Philip Alexiou - VOA)
The Washignton Auto Show floor (Philip Alexiou - VOA)
Phil Alexiou
There is something undeniable about being on the floor of a massive convention center, surrounded by brand new automobiles from makers around the world. Everything invites you to look, to touch...and hopefully, to buy. 
 
At the Washington Auto Show dozens of manufacturers display their cars and trucks under bright spot lights to make them glisten and glow, with beautiful women next to the new models on rotating platforms and well dressed sales reps who can't smile enough.

From Acura to Volvo and everything in between, there are hundreds of shiny new models on display offering an array of economy and luxury, sedans, trucks and more.
 
Today's automakers know they need to bring economy and quality to their products more than ever. Governments are forcing automakers to meet strict mileage standards, and customers are also asking for better fuel economy. Combine these two forces and you get more streamlined vehicles to the point you might not be able to tell the difference among a Hyundai Sonata, a Honda Accord or a BMW Sedan...assuming you squint.
 
Darrell Nichols runs an auto detail shop and comes to the show every year. "There's only so much that designers can do with today's design," he says. "Once you design a car that is sleek and smooth, how many different takes can you make on the sleek and smooth."
 
Darrell and his wife noticed how much technology is playing a role in the auto designs.  He says, "each year the displays in the hybrid  tech vehicles is getting larger and larger."

Chevy has its Volt, Ford's hybrid Fusion has seven models to choose from, and the all-electric Nissan Leaf can go 15 percent further on a single charge. With the growing demand for fuel economy, many of the automakers now feature their hybrid designs.   

Technology is everywhere on display. Automobile manufacturers are offering more of what is called "driver assist systems" including vision aids, warning and alert systems and more sophisticated active controls.

  • An attendee of the Washington Auto Show checks out a new Mazda
  • A new Hyundai under the lights at Washington's Auto Show
  • A new Buick on display at the Washington Auto Show
  • Driver assistance is everywhere at the Washington Auto Show
  • The Washignton Auto Show floor (Philip Alexiou - VOA)
  • A Ford hybrid sports its latest accolades
  • This Astin Martin is ready for sale, if you can meet its price
  • The new Chevy Spark packs power into a small body
  • The new Camero convertable invites viewers to take a seat
  • The sleek dash of a new Cadillac incorporating new technologies

For example, back up cameras are becoming more common in cars, with some models even offering night vision infrared cameras. Blind spot systems are in demand.  Advanced cruise control technology can automatically slow down your car if it's approching too closely to the car in front.  
 
There is a long list of these technologies that are extras in some vehicles, but over time may become standard.  As Christine Nichols points out, "if you wanted air conditioning you paid extra for it in the past, if you wanted a radio it was extra."   Today, you can add to that list power windows, air bags, disc brakes, sound systems, cruise control and more, standard features in almost any car today. 

From Hyundais to Hondas to Mazdas to Fords they all offer similar features.  
 
Others we spoke with said buyers today are looking for, even expect to see features they had in full size cars to be in smaller vehicles. They want the creature comforts while getting fuel efficiency. That can sometimes become a challenge, at least when it comes to anyone sitting in the back.

Dan Rese and his wife Maria live in Maryland and plan to buy an SUV within six months. "More and more, only the front seat offers the comfort," says Dan. "Today's automakers seem so worried about the price that they are cutting corners in leg room for passengers."
 
The most obvious aspect of the auto show is how fast sophisticated technology is being incorporated into vehicles. But the challenge to be more economical without compensating the power people demand is also blurring the designs of automobiles. 

GMC designs and Cadillac might be some of the obvious exceptions. GMC vehicles, at least their trucks and SUVs are more boxy in style, while Cadillac with its sharper and edgy designs distinguish its product.

You May Like

Video Analysts: Beijing Parade a 'Bazaar' of Stolen Technology

Show commemorating victory over Japan in World War II involved long, medium and short range missiles, a range of tanks and 200 fighter aircraft More

Bernie Sanders Surge Reflects US Shift on Socialism

Although most analysts say it is unlikely he will get the Democratic nomination, Sanders' campaign opens up questions and issues that are otherwise marginalized More

Video On IS Frontline, Kurdish Fighters Ready for Offensive

Peshmerga soldiers say although they need more heavy artillery, they are poised to take the fight to the Islamic State extremists on their turf More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Drowned Migrant Toddler Photo Triggers European Outragei
X
Henry Ridgwell
September 04, 2015 11:36 AM
The harrowing picture of a drowned three-year-old Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach appears to have galvanized Europe’s leaders into doing more to address the refugee crisis. France, Germany and Italy issued a joint call Thursday for compulsory quotas of refugees for all EU states. But there were chaotic scenes in Hungary as police tried to force migrants off a train heading for Austria. Henry Ridgwell has more. And a caution, some of the images in this report may be disturbing.
Video

Video Drowned Migrant Toddler Photo Triggers European Outrage

The harrowing picture of a drowned three-year-old Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach appears to have galvanized Europe’s leaders into doing more to address the refugee crisis. France, Germany and Italy issued a joint call Thursday for compulsory quotas of refugees for all EU states. But there were chaotic scenes in Hungary as police tried to force migrants off a train heading for Austria. Henry Ridgwell has more. And a caution, some of the images in this report may be disturbing.
Video

Video Russians Observe 11th Anniversary of Beslan School Attack

This week, Russians have been observing the 11th anniversary of the attack by Islamic militants on a school in Russia's North Caucasus region that killed more than 330 hostages, including 186 children. The three-day siege and massacre that started on September 1, 2004 took place in Beslan, a town in the republic of North Ossetia, and is one of the bloodiest terrorist acts ever in Russia. VOA's Mike Richman reports.
Video

Video Native Americans Debate: Father Serra, Saint or Sinner?

Pope Francis will canonize an 18th century missionary to Spanish California during a papal visit to the United States this month.  But some Native Americans have criticized the elevation to sainthood of the missionary priest, Junipero Serra. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Calais School Offers Another Face of Europe’s Migrant Crisis

Europe is facing mounting criticism over how it’s handling its biggest migration crisis since World War II. But not all Europeans believe building walls or passing repressive policies are the answer. A school for migrants in the French port city of Calais, is opening doors and building bonds across nationalities. VOA's Lisa Bryant reports.
Video

Video Kurdish Fighters on IS Frontline Ready for Offensive

Finger on the trigger, the Kurdish Peshmerga soldier stared across the dust at a village taken over by Islamic State extremists. The Kurdistan’s Khazir frontline, just 45 minutes from the Islamic State stronghold of Mosul. And at this point, the militants were less than two kilometers away. VOA's Sharon Behn reports.
Video

Video China Announces Troop Cuts at WWII Parade

Chinese President Xi Jinping Thursday announced plans to cut the world’s largest military force by 300,000 troops. The announcement was made during a massive military parade to commemorate victory over Japan in World War II. The event was shunned by most Western leaders and for some is raising fresh concerns about China’s military ambitions. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Russia-Japan Relations Cool as Putin Visits China for WWII Anniversary

Russian President Vladimir Putin is in Beijing for commemorations of the 70th anniversary of China's WWII victory over Japan. Putin is expected to visit Japan later this year, but tensions between Tokyo and Moscow over islands disputed since the war, and sanctions over Ukraine, could pour cold water on the plan. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Yemen ‘on Brink of Disaster’ as Medical Shortages Soar

Aid agencies warn Yemen is on the brink of humanitarian disaster – with up to half a million children facing severe malnutrition, and hospitals running out of basic medicines. There are fears Yemen's civil war could escalate as the coalition led by Saudi Arabia tries to drive back Houthi rebels, who seized control of much of the country earlier this year. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Apps Helping Kenyan Businesses Stay Ahead of Counterfeiters

Counterfeit goods in Kenya cost the government as much as $1 billion each year in lost tax revenues. The fake goods also hurt entrepreneurs who find it hard to carve out a niche in the market and retain customers. But as Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi, information technology is being used to try to beat the problem.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.

VOA Blogs