Innovation from traditional car manufacturers

There’s lots of publicity from technology companies like Google, Apple and Tesla about their vision of the self-driving cars. Time for some research on what traditional car manufacturers are looking at…

I’ve looked at the manufacturers’ websites and YouTube channels to get their official view – rather than a sneak preview clip from a cunning motoring magazine.

Technology in the car industry seemed to stagnate for a few decades until Google and Apple shook up the existing manufacturers. We can now see a range of innovative ideas and themes across the industry.

“Two, three or four years ago we could not have imagined building such a complex vehicle which is capable of doing so much.

“We are driving backwards. Absolutely incredible driving because it’s now like sitting in a train or a private Learjet.

I think that’s a good comparison.”

BMW – the 7 series

Not a concept car here… the latest BMW 7 series with remote control parking… it can drive into and out of a garage without anyone inside. Plus gesture control (i.e. touch-less) for the dashboard. Not sure about the fragrance control though.


“Machine learning” enables the car to understand how a professional driver would react in slippery conditions.


The Group’s head of digitalisation Johann Jungwirth said: “In a few years we’ll see vehicles without a steering wheel or pedals. This is not 2030. I’m talking about five years from now. By 2025 it will be commonplace.

Part of the VW group is SEAT…


Nice idea to allow someone to drive your car with authorisation from a smartphone app.

General Motors

One of GM’s predictions which didn’t fit in the other manufacturer’s videos is that the vehicle shape might change.

“The idea of having a set shell for your car that keeps it in a certain market segment is an idea of the past.”


Possibly the most elaborately produced video is from Toyota. OK, if you can see through the script, puns and special effects the serious point is that the Toyota Mirai runs on hydrogen energy, which should be much more sustainable than current electrical cars.


Like many manufacturers, Audi is focussing on safety for car passengers and driver as well as pedestrians.

The turn assist feature is demonstrated much better in the video below.

Mercedes Benz

The Mercedes F 015 has got some publicity after this well produced video/ documentary was released.

I love how it raises the question that if a car is self-driving, why do you need to worry about whether passengers (as in, all the people in the car) are facing forward or backwards?



Mazda have an alternative view of the future – and it doesn’t include autonomous vehicles. As a motorbike rider, I sympathise with CEO Masamichi Kogai’s viewpoint.

It’s not just getting from point A to point B. Our mission is to provide the essence of driving pleasure.

If the future of cars is like sitting on a train, I’m not sure where car driving pleasure will fit in.

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