**Guest Blog on MilesPerHr**
Joy Paley is a science and technology writer based in Berkeley, California. She is also a guest blogger for My Dog Ate My Blog.
Since the invention of the yearly model, car enthusiasts have taken pleasure in waiting with bated breath to see what new innovations would be coming out in the next year. The 2011-2012 season is no different, and is bringing some of the usual fun-but-unnecessary gadgets and tweaks, as well as some serious changes in make and design. Here are my top innovations to look out for in this year’s new models.
The Nissan Leaf: First Mass Production Completely Electric Vehicle
As the Prius and other hybrid vehicles have become ubiquitous on our nation’s roads, consumers, car-enthusiasts, and environmentalists alike have wondered when the first all-electric buggy would finally be introduced. Well, we have only a little longer to wait: Nissan has rolled out its new Leaf model for 2011 and 2012. The first few on the 20,000 person waiting list have gotten their models, and shipments will hopefully be heading to dealerships soon.
While the Leaf is certainly not the first all-electric car ever to be made, it is the first that’s geared toward the general market and produced in mass quantities. As far as looks go, the car isn’t as distinctive as the space-age Prius, and resembles a regular 4-door hatchback. For specs, the 100% electric engine will last 100 miles on a full charge, making it better suited for city driving than for your Route 66 roadtrips.
Ford’s Improved Airbags
While airbags have certainly been a huge innovation, their design is also fraught with some inherent problems. They can keep you from cracking your skull on the steering wheel and dash, but they might break your ribs and nose in the process. And kids in the front seat could be seriously injured by the air pressure level that was gauged for an adult’s body.
Ford has done some tweaking, in order to help fix these persistent airbag issues, and has incorporated their new technology into the 2012 models. These new airbags have been outfitted with a tether that reduces the girth of the airbag in the chest area, making them less likely to injure a rider’s ribs or chest in the event of a deployment. These new airbags can also sense the size of the rider and reduce pressure accordingly, by opening a vent in the side of the bag.
BMW’s Internet in Car
Computers have been used to power a car’s internal components for a long time, but now is the first time they’ve been built into the dash. BMW’s 2012 models come with the option of BMW ConnectedDrive, an integrated Internet system. Some models come with small Internet-connected touchscreens in the dash, to let you search Google or read your email in the car. Passengers in the back can hook up their iPads, iPhones, and other mobile devices to the car’s fast wireless network. Just please folks, don’t forget to drive while you’re catching up on blogs and the latest news.
Infiniti’s Body Motion Control System
Despite all the hype about hybrid and electric cars as of late, there are still people out there in the market for a giant, luxury SUV, and God bless ‘em. These people should check out Infiniti’s new 2011 and 2012 QX56 SUV, which offers an optional Body Motion Control System, as part of a $5800 touring package. This new sensory system helps reduce the sway, lean, and the likelihood of rollover in your new SUV. Sensors and dampers on both sides of the car are connected together, to counteract motion that occurs on only one side of the car. The design makes the giant entertainment-system-on-wheels safer, and drive more like a svelte sedan.