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Connected Electric Vehicles and Plug-in Hybrids

Whatauto.expert wants to be your source for the latest in new automotive technology. We will be covering the two main areas that are changing the world of cars on a daily basis: connectivity and alternative power sources.

There is a great variety of product development in both of these fields. We thought it would be helpful to you, our readers, to define some of the terms that you will be seeing here.

Connectivity – A Broad Range Of Products And Systems

The idea of the connected car can be considered on several different levels. Connectivity is usually a separate issue from the car’s power source, which may be combustion, hybrid, or alternative. Some vehicles may have more than one of these systems:

  • Cars with a telematics subscription package like GM’s OnStar, that provides contact with a centralized service for directions, travel help, and emergency assistance in case of breakdown or accident.
  • Cars with Bluetooth® that let you connect through your cell phone and make calls, etc through the car’s interface. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto availability in some cars let you bring the phone functions more completely into the car itself.
  • Cars with satellite navigation that also use that connection for traffic, music and other limited functions.
  • Cars with built-in cellular Wi-Fi hot spots, which need an additional cellular service subscription. These let passengers use their own Wi-Fi-enabled devices in the vehicle. GM, Ford, Chrysler, Mercedes, Audi and others offer this.
  • Cars like the Tesla Model S and X, which have built-in internet connections that are also used by the manufacturer for vehicle monitoring and over-the-air software updates.
  • Cars that have driver assistance functions, like automatic emergency braking, lane changing assist, parking assist, bird’s-eye camera function, adaptive cruise control, lane steering function, etc. These can also be integrated to work like the semiautonomous Tesla Autopilot. This system operates within the vehicle, but may use some connectivity functions like mapping, speed limit and traffic information to help it work. Telemetry from its operation may be transmitted to the manufacturer, as Tesla does.
  • Future vehicles with high levels of autonomy. These will have next-generation 5G connectivity. With it, communication with other similarly-equipped cars and elements of the infrastructure like traffic lights, traffic condition updates, etc. is possible. This will allow the vehicles to select the most efficient, trouble-free routes to their destinations. This is known as V2V (vehicle-to-vehicle) or V2X (vehicle-to-everything) communication.

Alternative Power Sources – A Whole Other World

Now we come to the world of alternative power source technology, which does not perfectly overlap the connected car world. Many cars with alternative power sources may not have high levels of connectivity.

Battery Electric Vehicles – generate all their power from an onboard battery that drives an electric motor. The battery must be charged from an external source. Many of these will use navigation to help you find places to charge.

Fuel Cell Vehicles – generate all their power from an onboard hydrogen fuel cell that provides electricity to drive an electric motor. These are refueled from an external source of hydrogen. These will also use the navigation system to help you find hydrogen refueling stations, which are not very plentiful.

Plug-in Hybrids – have a battery that provides a limited electric range for city or other short-term use. These also have a gasoline engine that is used when the battery is depleted, or to conserve it. The battery can either be charged from an external source (usually at home overnight) or by the gasoline engine.

Conventional Hybrids – similar to Plug-in Hybrids, but with a smaller battery that provides limited electric power at lower speeds. The electric power is used to improve the fuel-efficiency of the gasoline engine. The battery is recharged exclusively by the gasoline engine as you drive. These do not have a plug and cannot be charged externally.

We Bring You Both Worlds, As They Develop

Summing up, there are conventional cars, some inexpensive, that have high levels of connectivity. There are high-tech alternative-powered cars that do not. There are also some alternative-powered cars that do have high connectivity. They are all part of our universe.

The Future Gets Closer Every Day!

The pace of innovation in both connectivity and alternative propulsion is accelerating. Fully autonomous cars are almost ready for production. More vehicles are being sold with their own internet connections. Batteries are becoming more powerful, smaller, and less expensive. Fuel cell vehicles are available to the public in limited areas.

Whatauto.expert will bring it all to you as it happens. We also encourage your feedback, in the form of reviews of the vehicles and technologies we have listed on our Reviews page. We are in this together, and we are happy to have you with us!