Drive-by-Wire, also known as DbW, by-wire or x-by-wire is a technology which replaces the traditional mechanical control systems used in a car with electronic ones, achieving a major success in reducing the weight of the car. The technology uses electromechanical actuators and human-machine interfaces, examples of which include electronic throttle control and brake-by-wire. Mercedes and Toyota are two companies which already employ braking systems which are completely electronic. The safety of the car is enhanced with computer controlled intervention systems like Electronic Stability Control, adaptive cruise control and Lane Assist Systems. The DbW technology is also used for improving ergonomics and for enhancing parking ease. Examples of the usage of the technology include the lock-to-lock steering employed by BMW and the Active Steering System or semi-automatic parallel-parking system employed by Ford/Lincoln vehicles in the US and Toyota
Prius cars in Japan, Lexus LS460 models and some of the Volkswagen models. The disadvantages of the DbW systems are that they are a lot more expensive than the conventional systems. Another major negative feedback about the technology is that a failure of the control system causes a runaway vehicle, with no control!
An automatic gearbox is a motor vehicle transmission system which can automatically change gear ratios as the vehicle moves, without necessitating manual intervention. Though the automatic gearboxes launched in the earlier cars ranked low in terms of fuel efficiency, the modern improved systems called Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) which feature in the recently launched cars are more fuel efficient than their manual counterparts. The latest eight-speed auto of BMW
features a sail mode, which automatically shifts to neutral when the foot is shifted from the accelerator without applying brakes. The feature allows a car to glide freely with the force of kinetic energy, which is a pleasant fuel saving feature.
Satellite Navigation or sat nav system makes use of the satellites to help a driver to decide the quickest possible route to reach a desired destination. The system, termed as Global Navigation Satellite System or GNSS uses a small electronic receiver to determine the precise location and immediately calculates the time required to reach a certain place. The technology has a good potential to give fuel efficiency and to reduce wastage of time. The system is so helpful that it can even respond to traffic congestion, helping one to re-route and commute much faster, identifying the most economical route to be taken up. The NAVSTAR Global Positioning System is the only fully operational GNSS system in the world with the Russian GLONASS currently under development. The Chinese People’s Republic of China is expanding its Beidou Navigation System into the Compass Navigation System. Both the Chinese and European Galileo Positioning System are expected to be operational by 2020.
Recycling is the process of using waste material to produce new and useful products. The process prevents wastage and reduces the depletion of fresh raw materials, reduce energy usage, air and water pollution and the use of conventional waste disposal. The process also reduces the greenhouse gas emissions which result from the elimination of waste products. Car
makers are continuously innovating and launching new cars into the market, making the disposal of old vehicles, an issue to be addressed. Toyota Prius is claimed to use large quantities of recycled material including 5.7 kilos of recycled plastic and expects to be recyclable to the extent of 85%, at the end of its lifecycle. The Lotus Eco Elise concept also claims to have extensively used recyclable and sustainable materials.
The concept of Green Manufacturing techniques follows the same principles as the Green Chemistry. Companies in various product verticals, including auto makers, are putting in efforts to turn to green manufacturing techniques, to minimize the damage caused on the environment and to maximize energy efficiency. Green technology is defined as the study and practice of designing, manufacturing, using and disposing the produced material efficiently and effectively with minimal or no impact on the environment. Green technology in case of car makers does not refer only to the impact of a car on the environment but also to the entire lifecycle, commencing from the sourcing of raw materials up to the final date of the car with its crusher.