Since the inception of the modern automobile, cars have come a long way in terms of innovation and user-friendliness. Features like the air-conditioner, which we take for granted is an absolute blessing during peak summer. The navigation system in a car helps you find the way. Safety features like Airbags and ABS have saved countless lives.
But then, there are some ideas so wacky, so quirky and so outright absurd that we wonder how did they even make into the cars we drive.
But, before we get started, a word of caution. This post is a rant on the top 5 most useless features in a car. The opinions below are strictly personal. Enjoy!
- Electronic Hand Brake
The parking brake or “Handbrake”, as we call them in India. In its traditional, non-electronic form, a handbrake is a very simple feature: Pull the lever which will pull two cables that engages the rear brakes (with the additional facility of locking the rear brake). A handbrake brake turns out to be very useful in certain situations like parking your car in a descent or an uneven surface.
Luxury automakers like Audi, Mercedes and BMW thought of replacing the manual handbrake with an electronic one. You can find a convenient switch on the centre console which engages and disengages the handbrakes at a flick of it. It is not that electronic hand brake is a bad idea, it is just that overengineering something very simple and effective like a manual handbrake is unnecessary. Then there are the drawbacks; replacing a set of brake pads will cost you an expensive trip to the garage. As the callipers are electronically operated. You will need a diagnostics laptop to service the brakes.
- Paddle Shifters in a CVT
CVT or Continuously Variable Transmission, a remarkable feat in automatic transmission technology that uses belts and conical pulleys to provide “virtual” gear ratios. By virtual we mean, there are no gears involved; it’s just the diameter of the conical pulley that is altered due to hydraulic pressure which in turn varies the speed via the output shaft.
To “fix” this, car makers decided to plonk-in a pair of paddle shifters to give the driver an illusion of changing gears. (Honda owners might know this). The problem with paddle shifters lies here: a CVT, in essence, is meant to eliminate the jerk you feel every time to shift gear in a manual car. It is meant to provide seamless acceleration from start. Instead of faking gear shifts, automakers should focus on getting rid of the rubber-band effect that plagues almost every CVT.
A sunroof in a car feels like a half-hearted approach towards providing a convertible experience. There are n number of things wrong with a sunroof. Here are a few:
First, they are heavy. A sunroof adds almost 30 kilos to the gross weight of the vehicle.
Second, they steal your headroom. The sunroof mechanism takes up a lot of space on the roof.
Third, sunroofs are notorious for leaking water during rains, adding to this they are also damn expensive to repair.
Fourth, sunroof hampers the structural rigidity of a car. Cutting a hole in the roof is not a bright idea.
Fifth, sunroof mess-up with the aerodynamics of the car.
- Automated Windshield Wipers
Automatic windshield wiper is straight up lazy. There is absolutely no need for automating the windshield wipers. Although, it seems to be a nice idea at first until you start noticing how irritating it can be. The sensors find a hard time adjusting to the intensity of the rain that is not consistent or intermittent and it gets absolutely frustrating to override the system once it has started.
- The AM Radio
Remember the last time using the AM radio? me neither.
In today’s world, AM (Amplitude Modulation) or medium wave radio is an ancient relic. Analogue radio broadcasting is a primitive way of getting any information across. The sound quality is bad, the reception is weak and awfully susceptible to interference.
However, the relatively low-frequency transmission signal means that AM can transmit information over great distances (500-800 kms). Several AM radio stations across India use this low frequency for emergency broadcasts or severe weather alerts.
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