Cars don’t look the same in 2018 as they did 60 years ago. You don’t need an expert analyst to tell you that. Long gone are the days of new cars emerging from the showroom fitted with futuristic looking tailfins and vent windows. However, technological development has accelerated to such a pace in recent years that some features, which were commonplace as recent as ten years ago, are beginning to go the way of the automotive dodo.
In 2015, it became illegal in the UK to smoke inside a vehicle when somebody under 18 is in the vehicle. With laws like this coming to pass, it should come as little surprise that cigarette lighters are becoming far less common in cars. However, the popularity of cigarette lighters began to decline long before this. Cigarette lighter sockets are used to charge mobile phones and power sat navs more often than they are to actually light a cigarette, so why not just replace it with a power socket or a USB port?
Most smokers carry a lighter with them anywhere they intend to smoke anyway, making the car cigarette lighter mostly obsolete. That seems to be the thought process most car manufacturers have gone through in recent years, as you are unlikely to find a cigarette lighter as standard in a new car anymore, although it is still possible to get cigarette lighters as an optional extra for some models.
It’s amazing to think that in a few years’ time, kids are going to be completely unaware that the reason people ask them to “wind the windows down” in a car is because we used to have to actually wind down the windows. Very few new cars come fitted with crank handle windows now, apart from in cheap cars to save money or in specialist lightweight models as a method of saving weight. Humanity was spared the terrible fate of this gruelling course of manual labour in 1948, when electric car window switches (also known as “power switches”) were invented. These have since slowly replaced crank handles as the device used to open car windows and, to be honest, we don’t think there are too many people yearning to see their nostalgic comeback.
Admittedly, most new cars do still come fitted with some form of antenna, but not in the way we knew them ten years ago. Cars don’t roll out the showroom with thin plastic sticks pointing out from the top of the roof anymore. Manufacturers now find different ways of hiding the wires and cables that do the antenna’s job. They are most commonly fitted into the rear window or windshield, or are concealed within small enclosures on the roof, resembling shark fins. Either way, the days of cars coming with the likes of whip antennas and power exterior antennas attached to the exterior are long gone.
The way we listen to music on the move has once again evolved. People are still listening to music; in fact, growth in UK music consumption is at its fastest since 1998, but this is more fuelled by the growth in digital streaming and the “vinyl revival” rather than CDs. While other formats have begun to thrive, CD sales have been floundering, having dropped by 20 million since 2013.
So, why fit cars with a CD player if nobody is buying CD’s? Digital music is now the leading form of music consumption, predominantly in the form of digital streaming services, and so more and more cars are now replacing CD players altogether with AUX inputs and systems that facilitate Bluetooth connectivity so that people can play music through their phones and other portable devices.
If you were to say a decade ago that cars will stop being sold with keys, you’d think that manufacturers had either stopped caring about your vehicle’s security, or that they were denying you access to your own vehicle because they don’t trust you with it. It sounds really weird, but external keyholes and physical metal keys are no longer a necessary feature to keep cars secure. They’ve been mostly replaced with electronic fobs that can open/lock a car with the touch of a button, but some cars now come with “keyless entry”, which allows them to enter the vehicle as long as they have the fob with them.
Even ignition keys are becoming increasingly rare, as more cars become equipped with simple push buttons to start the engine. We may still refer to these fobs and gadgets as car keys, (and we probably always will), but actual car keys are becoming a thing of the past.