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

Germany Celebrates 25 Years of Unity

October 3 is a public holiday, marking the day in 1990 when East Germany and West Germany reunited More

Analysts: Russia's Syria Strikes Shake Regional Powers

If Moscow bolsters Assad, Saudi Arabia, other Gulf countries may feel obliged to step in More

Video Innovative Nano-Tech Water Filter Prevents Disease

It can absorb contaminants like copper, bacteria, viruses and pesticides, says Askwar Hilonga, who has been successfully trying out his product in Arusha More

This forum has been closed.
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.
Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europei
Luis Ramirez
October 02, 2015 4:45 PM
European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video First Self-Driving Truck Debuts on European Highways

The first automated semi-trailer truck started its maiden voyage Friday, Oct. 2, on a European highway. The Daimler truck called 'Actros' is the first potentially mass-produced truck whose driver will be required only to monitor the situation, similar to the role of an airline captain while the plane is in autopilot mode. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Migrant Influx Costs Europe, But Economy Could Benefit

The influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants is testing Europe’s ability to respond – especially in the poorer Balkan states. But some analysts argue that Europe will benefit by welcoming the huge numbers of young people – many of them well educated and willing to work. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

Video New Fabric Helps Fight Dust-Related Allergies

Many people around the world suffer from dust-related allergies, caused mainly by tiny mites that live in bed linen. Polish scientists report they have successfully tested a fabric that is impenetrable to the microscopic creatures. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video Burkina Faso's Economy Deeply Affected by Political Turmoil

Political turmoil in Burkina Faso over the past year has taken a toll on the economy. The transitional government is reporting nearly $70 million in losses in the ten days that followed a short-lived coup by members of the presidential guard earlier this month. The crisis shut businesses and workers went on strike. With elections on the horizon, Emilie Iob reports on what a return to political stability can do for the country's economic recovery.

Video Fleeing Violence, Some Syrians Find Refuge in Irbil

As Syrians continue to flee their country’s unrest to seek new lives in safer places, VOA Persian Service reporter Shepol Abbassi visited Irbil, where a number Syrians have taken refuge. During the religious holidy of Eid al-Adha, the city largely shut down, as temperatures soared. Amy Katz narrates his report.

Video Nigeria’s Wecyclers Work for Reusable Future in Lagos

The streets and lagoons of Africa's largest city - Lagos, Nigeria - are often clogged with trash, almost none of which gets recycled. One company is trying to change that. Chris Stein reports for VOA from Lagos.

Video Sketch Artist Helps Catch Criminals, Gives a Face to Deceased

Police often face the problem of trying to find a crime suspect based on general descriptions that could fit hundreds of people in the vicinity of the crime. In these cases, an artist can use information from witnesses to sketch a likeness that police can show the public via newspapers and television. But, as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, such sketches can also help bring back faces of the dead.

Video Thailand Set to Build China-like Internet Firewall

Thai authorities are planning to tighten control over the Internet, creating a single international access point so they can better monitor content. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok on what is being called Thailand’s own "Great Firewall."

Video Croatian Town’s War History Evokes Empathy for Migrants

As thousands of Afghanistan, Iraqi and Syrian migrants pass through Croatia, locals are reminded of their own experiences with war and refugees in the 1990s. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from the town of Vukovar, where wartime scars still are visible today.

Video Long Drought Affecting California’s Sequoias

California is suffering under a historic four-year drought and scientists say even the state's famed sequoia trees are feeling the pain. The National Park Service has started detailed research to see how it can help the oldest living things on earth survive. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs