New technology surges forward at Vancouver Auto Show

Vancouver: If driverless cars cruising streets safely is no longer a dream for car lovers, then puffing nothing into the atmosphere but a little bit of water exhaust is another dream of environmentalists just around the corner. Here at the 95th annual Vancouver International Auto Show, car lovers tend to drool over sleek designs, luxury and horsepower. But now, technology is becoming the show’s focal point, with more buyers interested in eco-friendly machines with enhanced safety and automated technology, Xinhua reported.

Beside a monster truck Bigfoot, people were surprised to know that this giant car is driven entirely by electricity. The staff of Bigfoot, Jim Kramer, told Xinhua on Thursday that this custom Bigfoot runs on a 30-car battery power plant that puts out 350 horsepower and roughly 800 pound-feet of torque. While its electric motor is quiet like a purring kitten, this monster truck does not lack for power or performance. “We always try to keep up with the innovations. And electric cars are coming of age. It’s getting better every day, and we felt we wanted to build an electric monster truck to show people that the qualities of electric can apply. You know, going green doesn’t have to be hard. It can be fun. We wanted to make it fun.”

Green cars remain a relatively small part of the overall auto industry, but eco-friendly tech is accelerating at a remarkable rate. Take Toyota’s Mirai Fuel Cell Vehicle, for instance. It is a concept car that uses a chemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen to generate electricity for power. Water is the vehicle’s only by product. It can be refilled in about five minutes and has a driving range of about 500 kilometres on a full tank. Zack Spencer, a Canadian automobile journalist, recently spent a week testing a similar fuel cell vehicle made by Hyundai.

He told Xinhua at the auto show that the performance gap between fuel cell cars and regular autos is quickly closing. “We’re talking about very advanced technology, as a fuel cell on board taking only hydrogen, converting it into electricity to power the vehicle and then emitting only water out of the tail pipe, but you drive it like a regular car,” Spencer said. Another major breakthrough has been driverless technology. Although parking assist, lane control and automatic breaking are already normal for many cars, Mercedes is building and selling a series of luxury cars that can travel up to 30 kilometres an hour on autopilot by using radar and camera technology, or the driverless cars.

Spencer said there was no question it could be done. “Mercedes Benz has done beta testing in Germany, driving over 130 kilometres with a driver there to watch the car but not touch any of the controls. It could be done today. The problem we have is regulations are not going to move fast enough for this to happen.”

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