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Saturday, March 31, 2012

How much electronics do we need in our cars?

10 years ago, having power steering in the car was great thing. People had mastered the art of steering big cars like Ambassador, without any power steering. Power windows and powered mirrors were luxury to be found only in the likes of Merc and BMWs.

Things have changed. Power steering has become so common, most of entry level cars have it by default. People feel it difficult to negotiate if their small cars are not power steered. Power steering is more hydraulic than electronic. But there’s also so much electronics embedded into cars these days. For example:
  • Windows are powered on all windows
  • Mirror adjustment and folding/unfolding is powered by electronics
  • Fuel lit and Boot release is electronic.
  • Even doors are getting hydraulic assistance
  • Seat adjustment is electronic
  • Headlamps are adjusted electronically
  • Door lock is electronic
  • Turn indicator is mounted on mirror
  • Sun roofs and convertibles with retracting roof

While having so much electronics adds a lot to convenience, if you’re a prospective car buyer, be aware that all these add to cost. I have following thoughts on having an overdose of electronics inside your car.

Electronic version is expensive than mechanical ones. So you pay more to a car which has power windows, compared to one with manual windows. But this doesn’t end here. Electronic system tend to fail more often than mechanical ones. Electronic ones are also expensive to repair/replace. Have you noticed your friend who’s car windows don’t roll up completely and he keeps postponing fixing it?

Need to ask oneself if we really need certain fancy features. For example, a simple external rear view mirror is far cheaper to replace than a mirror which is electronically adjustable and can be electronically folded. Mirrors often tend to brush with other vehicles and suffer damage in India. Everytime that happens, you’ll end up spending two times the money replacing such mirrors.

With not much parts left to power, current high end cars from Audi and BMW are getting power doors. You just have to gently push it and system power will open the door fully for you. When did we become so lazy that we can’t even push the door properly?

I am wondering what next- a power lift? Just stand near the car, a lift kind of thing will lift you up and make you sit in the seat?

If you’re buying low end cars, you can skip the top end variant and buy a variant without too much electronics. But on higher end cars, these things come as standard, so no respite.

I strongly recommend buy a variant without lot of electronics. You’ll save money outright and you’ll save money during maintenance. Think.

6 comments :

Aravind GJ said...

You are right.

I would prefer safety features like ABS and airbags rather than fancy stuffs in the car. But unfortunately they come only in top end variants :-(

Shrinidhi Hande said...

You're right Arvind...

Mitesh Damania said...

Talk about being lazy, I always get a good laugh when I see someone in the next lane use a remote to tune their car stereo.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Mitesh:
May be because it is easier to use remote button than searching for tiny buttons on the stereo

Anantha said...

Totally agree with you Shrinidhi.
One such feature I observed in my friend's car was an electronic control where user can set the speed [Km/Hr] at which the doors should get auto locked!!! Now, why is that required..? I dint get :)

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Thanks Anantha

Didn't know about such a feature...