What's coming down the assembly line: cars with more features, style
Ann Arbor, Mich.
When it comes to more choice for the price, anyone shopping for a car these days is already in the driver's seat. ``The products are improving fast from all the competition -- it's a very pleasing scenario from the consumer's standpoint,'' says University of Michigan expert David Cole. He notes that the average life of a car is now 11 years, for instance, and is expected to increase to 13 years by 1992.Skip to next paragraph
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In the near future, he says, style and other specialized features will become more important than quality which is improving across the board. The Japanese edge in ``perceived'' quality from the finish to the fit of the doors is fast disappearing, he says, just as is the American edge in ``hidden'' quality. That includes such areas as crashworthiness and structural integrity.
Dr. Cole says he expects to see the same mix of car sizes as now but with some larger, more-efficient cars added. In the next five to 10 years, he says, much more powerful and lighter-weight engines will be developed. The use of electronics in cars will spread into such areas as anti-lock braking, ignition control, cellular phones, and advanced diagnostic capability. ``When you take your car into the dealership for service, you'll know what's wrong with it,'' he says.
Also, he says, the hassle of buying a car is likely to be reduced. The shopper will no longer tour a lot full of cars but perhaps shop from a three-dimensional hologram at the dealer's, to which can be added different colors and trim. The car would not be built until ordered, but could be available within a week or two.