Why car technology is so exciting right now

What the interior of a Jaguar F-Pace looks like.
What the interior of a Jaguar F-Pace looks like. Photo credit: Jaguar

Most New Zealanders aren't driving the world's latest and greatest vehicles that come packed with cutting-edge tech.

According to recent statistics released by the Ministry of Transport, the average age of a car on our roads is around 14 year - a number up significantly on previous years.

If you're cruising around in an older vehicle and wondering what a 2021 model might offer, here's a look at why automotive technology is so cool at the moment.

In-car technology

From dashboards as big as modern smart televisions to voice-activated air conditioning to fully-electric drivetrains taking you from 0 - 100km/h in under three seconds, vehicles nowadays are basically moving technology expos.

As someone who refuses to move on from AUX cables and FM radio, tinkering with new technology in modern cars is quite a task as Qi wireless charging, in-car Wi-Fi and a suite of other modern features adorn most brand new cars rolling off the lot.

After weeks of trawling through the various innovations by automakers, one car brand really stood out: Jaguar. It just seems to get where in-car technology is going and between its EV, the i-Pace and the constant upgrades to in-car technology, it really keeps other car brands on their toes.

Among a slew of other technology packing out its new car models, Jaguar Land Rover's latest attempt at an in-car infotainment system that is remotely usable now allows you to control your car from your smartphone, which I think is pretty cool.

You can adjust air-conditioning, check your car's remaining battery or fuel, and lock or unlock the car through the Jaguar app: and if it's an electric car or a plug-in hybrid, you can do it all while the car is charging.

Land Rover Discovery 2021 interior.
The dashboard of a 2021 Land Rover Discovery. Photo credit: Land Rover

Jaguar aren't the only car brand pushing the boat out on technology, however.

Not to be outdone by their British brethren, Mercedes-Benz are packing a range of technology into their new cars. New cars like the brand new all-electric Mercedes-Benz EQC come equipped with state of the art voice technology, 3D navigation mapping and more.

Starting at just under $143,000 for a base model, the Motoring Writers’ 2020 Car of the Year will give consumers the chance to play with a 56-inch, fully customisable 'hyperscreen', which runs the length of the dashboard. In some markets, it'll even allow passengers to watch TV or movies without disturbing the driver.

My favourite feature in the new Mercedes is the voice-activated control. Voice control in cars isn't particularly new, but with a little help from state-of-the-art artificial intelligence, the car learns about you. 

Want to turn up the temperature? Tell it you feel cold, and it'll turn on the heating. Want to change the radio station? Tell it you don't like this song and it'll switch to one of your other favourite radio stations.

Electric cars

Rumours are circulating that tech giant Apple is planning a foray into the automotive world in 2022 through a partnership with Korean car brand Hyundai.

The goal is to build an all-electric car capable of taking on the likes of Tesla, and the reports have seen Hyundai's shares soar over 19 percent in days - that's a value of around US$8 billion.

If the reports are to be believed, Apple has chosen a suitable partner in the race to corner the electric car market. Hyundai has a range of existing EVs, and while it isn't exactly a market leader against luxury car brands like Mercedes-Benz and Jaguar, its experience in the EV sector gives it a strong basis to work on a new design.

So what would an Apple EV look like? Maybe like an iMac on wheels, but we'll have to wait and see.

While our streets aren't exactly flooded with Teslas as they are becoming overseas, electric vehicle uptake in New Zealand has grown rapidly in recent years.

A Tesla charging station in Beijing, China.
A Tesla charging station in Beijing, China. Photo credit: Getty

By the end of 2019, electric vehicles accounted for over 2 percent of vehicles on the road, with Auckland and Wellington having the highest rate of ownership. This has probably been helped by the mass importation of plug-in hybrids and electric cars to service New Zealand's Uber boom.

Until you've experienced an electric car on the road, you don't know what you're missing. A comfy ride, packed with the latest and greatest technology - there's a reason EV ownership is skyrocketing.

Bring it on.