The 21st Century Car: How Has it Changed?

As the 21st century continues to distinguish itself from the previous century, some changes are affecting how people use cars. While the 20th emphasized cheap, reliable designs, the 21st century is focusing on safety. The 20th century ideals sought increased mileage, while the 21st century is focused on decreasing negative environmental impact.

Here are some of the ways in which cars are adapting to prepare for the demands of the 21st century:

* Green ideals 

The predominant idea in the 20th century was that cars’ mileages should be incrementally increased. In the 21st century, this ideas have been put into overdrive; instead of focusing on incremental mileage improvements, automakers and governments are focusing on radical changes that lead to substantial leaps.

Hybrid engines, for example, enable automobiles to harness much of the energy formerly wasted as heat energy. Further, plug-in engines and cars that run solely on electricity are becoming more popular. Increased attention on climate change and fairly high increases in gas prices are fueling this change.

* Safety becomes more important 

Safety improvements for cars peaked in the 1980s. With airbags, anti-lock brakes and other technology becoming nearly universal, the vehicles of the 1990s were substantially safer than those of previous decades, and consumers focused less on safety throughout the end of the century.

The 21st century, however, has changed this, and automakers are focusing on safety improvements again. Auto insurers are jumping on the bandwagon as well, and many offer coverage for preventative services such as windshield replacements from companies like All Star Glass. Computerized safety features are leading the change with features such as electronic stability control.

* Integration with other devices 

The popularity of digital media players has increased tremendously since the beginning of the 21st century. CDs have largely been replaced by online music stores, and consumers have the option of upgrading older stereo systems to one that is capable of supporting these digital devices.

An even larger revolution has occurred with iPhones and Android devices; GPS functionality, for example, is now nearly ubiquitous for those with smart phones. Buying a car conversion kit or another tool for integrating cars with smart phones can allow consumers to use these devices as GPS navigators, media players, speedometers or anything else that is supported by an app.

Gas prices are unlikely to drop, and consumers can expect to see an increased emphasis on fuel-efficient vehicles. Likewise, safety is largely being improved through software and other relatively inexpensive techniques. The core identity of 21st century car demands should continue to solidify in the coming years.