Common Car Features That Have Bitten The DustLast Updated August 4, 2019
Cars have evolved dramatically in the last 100 years, even if we don’t always think about all the changes going on under the hood that add extra power to our favorite automobiles. What car features are still hanging on, and which ones have bitten the dust in the past 30 years?
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Automakers introduced the first car radios in the 1930s. 1965 saw the first eight-track players installed in cars, and cassette players made their appearance between 1970 and 1977. It wasn’t until the 1980s that CD players made their first appearance in cars, first in tandem with cassette players, and then eventually phasing out the tape decks in favor of plain CD players. Mercedes-Benz had the first in-dash CD player installed in 1985.
By 2014, 17 percent of the cars in North America had already moved beyond the CD player. By 2021, that number is expected to hit 46 percent, as most new cars come equipped with aux ports and Bluetooth connectivity, allowing you to stream music directly from your smart devices through the car’s audio system.
Ashtrays and Cigarette Lighters
It’s uncommon to see cigarette lighters and ashtrays in newer cars. Anti-smoking campaigns may have a lot to do with it. You might find a couple of cigarette lighter ports in newer cars — but for power only.
Cigarette lighters first started appearing in cars in the 1920s — long before anyone knew smoking was bad for you.
The percentage of adults who smoke has declined so dramatically in the last 10 years — from 24 percent in 1997 to 15 percent in 2015 — there just isn’t a demand for ashtrays and cigarette lighters as much as there used to be.
Car keys didn’t make their first appearance until 1916, with the Cadillac Type 53. They didn’t change much for the next 70 years, until manufacturers began introducing keyless entry systems in the 1980s. In the 1990s, manufacturers introduced smart keys — keys that would only work if their installed transponder matched the one in the car itself. It made replacing lost keys a nightmare, because the only place to get them in most cases was directly from the dealership!
Today, you don’t even need keys for a lot of newer models. Simply have the key fob in your pocket, and you can open your car door or start the engine with just a press of a button. It’s not perfect, though — the National Insurance Crime Bureau tested smart key technology and found its flaws allow a vehicle to be stolen more than 50 percent of the time!
Keys will eventually phase out, but manufacturers need to work out the bugs first!
Non-Power Windows and Seats
Power windows and seats were first introduced in the 1940s, but were, at first, restricted to expensive luxury cars. Everyone loved them, though — they were so easy to use — so they caught on quickly and soon became standard equipment in most models. Some cars still have non-powered seats, but the cost of installing powered seats is negligible at this point, so that will probably change in the future.
The Sturtevant brothers, who worked out of Boston, developed the first automatic transmission in 1904, but the technology didn’t become mainstream until 1940, when GM released that year’s Oldsmobile with an automatic.
By the 1980s, many earlier transmission models were being replaced by overdrive-equipped automatic transmissions that had four or more speeds, not counting reverse.
In 2006, a study by Edmunds.com found 47 percent of new cars were available with either automatic or manual transmissions, but by 2011, that number had dropped to 37 percent of new cars. The most recent numbers show only about 3 percent of current U.S. cars sold have a manual transmission.
It’s a matter of convenience — for many drivers, the automatic transmission is simply easier. That won’t stop the purists from looking for their favorite manual transmissions, though.
Sources: Car And Driver | USA Today | Auto News | LA Times
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