These are 3 of the most irritating bits of car tech ever
Some things are meant to make our lives better, yet ends up making it slightly worse
There comes a certain point when we just start making work for ourselves. Coming up with madcap ideas and convincing ourselves that we like them because clearly our genius has not been formally recognised and the world needs to bathe in our greatness. I once tried to make a pork pie pizza, for example. The smell of grating a pork pie will never leave me. Mount Nacho Pizza worked wonderfully, but that was a rare hit in a battery of misses.
That’s small scale though, and only really stunk out one kitchen. There are some ideas that, somehow, made it past concept, prototype, and many board meetings to make it in to the wider stream. Ideas that will have come to someone in a dream and simply had to be written down – only they weren’t a flux capacitor, but something a bit cack. Here are some of the worst.
It’s easy to see how this one got its run: “You know how you can be easily blinded at night by cars behind you? Well what if we made that problem go away..?” Anyone who’s been in a remotely low car with a Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV behind them will know how, rather than lights, Mitsubishi installed two suns in the front of its car and they always want to blow out your retinas. The theory is that a sensor detects an abundance of light when it’s dark, and dims the rear view and door mirrors to stop the driver getting dazzled. It works, the driver doesn’t get dazzled. But it also renders the mirrors effectively useless because they turn so dark. The driver’s eyes don’t burn out, but they also can’t see behind the car. Some older systems have a handy button to turn this feature off… others don’t make it so obvious. These sunglasses are often buried in options ‘packs’ as well, so if you want option X you’ll need to have them. Rage inducing.
And honourable mention for the auto-sensing rain wiper here as well. The car may be able to ‘see’ if it’s weeing it down, but your eyes and ears can do that as well, often much better than the machine.
Not long ago the world was, somehow, more obsessed with being as futuristic as possible. Voice control was often attempted in cars and was, almost always, utter cack (I once had a screaming match with a car while driving up the M40). As Iron Man tech became the top of everyone’s wish list, engineers thought of clever ways to integrate it in to everyday lives.
And lo, gesture technology was put in to cars. It had the potential to be a neat way to answer calls, skips tracks, or fiddle with volume levels – a simple flick of the hand is a cool way to deal with simple stuff (and irritating people, let’s be honest) – and much fuss was made of it. BMW led the way, putting it in as many cars as it could justify.
By waving your hand through an invisible beam, the car would read your movements and decide what you were trying to do. Often badly.
If you were remotely animated while you, or your passenger, spoke you could end up skipping whole albums in the space of a single story, or end up deafening the whole car. And all of this was while the driver, the one with best access to gesture control, had their hands on a multifunction steering wheel which could do all the gesture stuff, and more, with a simple thumb prod.
Branded puddle lamps
Being able to see, as we’ve already established, is a good thing. Yet for some reason manufacturers seem to think we need to see everything all the time, even after we’ve finished driving. First there were ‘follow me home’ headlights that stayed on for a spell after you’d stopped and locked the car, great if you often parked down dark alleys, but useless if you reversed in to your space at home as they’d only serve to illuminate the neighbour’s living room.
Then came the puddle lamp – a super bright light embedded in your door mirror designed to light the floor? Conceptually they’re mega because they highlight any mud/water/whatever as you get out of the car, but remember where they’re placed? The door mirror... Which meant that when you open the door they light up the front of the car, nowhere near where you’re actually going to stand. Mildly handy when you unlock the car when you return to it, sure, but largely useless when you arrive at a new space. To make things worse, manufacturers have started branding them. A Ford Mustang will bring up a horse, Audi’s RS cars light up with ‘AUDI SPORT’ which is very twee, but surely if you’ve bought an RS 6 or whatever you know what it is..?
What car tech do you hate
What else is out there that boils your blood? What other irksome tech have you found fitted to cars? Let us know in the comments.