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商业 - 汽车

11种消失的汽车功能

Alex Taylor III 2013年07月04日

收音机旋钮又回到了车上,但这种返璞归真的功能只是个案,更多其他的特色功能正在随着消费者的口味变化和汽车业自身的发展走向消亡,成为人们的回忆。今天我们就来盘点一下汽车上正在销声匿迹的11个功能。

    最近,福特汽车公司(Ford)发布了一个让人惊讶的公告:它要在自己高科技含量极高的控制系统MyFord Touch上加装收音机旋钮。这是从最新科技倒退到传统技术,就像“人咬狗”一样,是大家很少能在汽车业看到的新闻,以后也别指望能再发生这类事情。

    这一举动的背景是:为了让驾驶者减少分神,同时和竞争对手一较高下,福特推出了音频、导航和其他功能的声控和触屏控制系统。但是驾驶者发现,这个新系统让人困惑,而《消费者报告》(Consumer Reports )则发表了一份报告,对这个系统的功能大加讽刺。所以福特决定听取大家的意见,走个回头路:装个旋钮,就能控制声音和频率了。《凯利蓝皮书》(Kelley Blue Books,北美二手车行业的标杆性定价杂志——译注)的杰克•尼拉德称:“旋钮大家既熟悉,又好用,是让驾驶者控制车内娱乐系统特别好的手段。它能让人少分心,也没那么难用,这就能带来更大的方便,还能提高安全性。”

    下一步怀旧穿越会是什么呢?是不是我们会看到各厂商纷纷采用带状速度计(ribbon speedometers),装在轮毂上的传动装置按钮(hub-mounted transmission button),或者说三档变速杆?不太可能。实际上,汽车业正在朝完全不同的方向发展。现在一定年纪的驾驶者曾经熟悉的很多功能要么正在消失,要么早已销声匿迹。下面就是其中的一部分:

    1.手动变速器

    传统的离合器控制的手动变速器名列濒危物种名单的时间比黑足鼬(唯一原产于北美的雪貂——译注)还长。相比之下,自动变速器只需要两个踏板,而且早已变得更平滑、更高效、更廉价,更省油。知名汽车网站Edmunds.com称,过去十年间,新车销售中手动档的比例已大幅下跌至3.8%,尽管2012年有过短暂反弹。手自一体变速器和2014款吉普大切诺基(Jeep Grand Cherokee)这类车所用的八速自动变速器正日益普及,这会让人们更不愿意选购手排档,也会让一些特定车型更少选装它。

    2.车钥匙

    电子钥匙取代传统钥匙成为车主打开后备箱和车门最喜欢的方式已有很长时间了——你还记得最后一次看见车身上的钥匙孔是什么时候?——现在用一键启动按钮点火已让模铸金属钥匙变得多余了。在一些高端车上,当带着电子钥匙的车主接近自己的车时,车门就会自动打开,这样电子钥匙就不必从口袋或包里拿出来了。而停车场工作人员常常抱怨称一些健忘的车主老是停车后不拔车钥匙,不过这类人总是少数。而今后,用智能手机就能打开车门,启动汽车了。

    Recently, Ford (F, Fortune 500) made a surprising announcement: It is adding radio knobs to its hi-tech component control system MyFord Touch. That's a retreat from cutting-edge to old technology -- a man-bites-dog scenario you don't often see in the auto business. And don't expect to see it any more often in the future.

    Here's the background: In attempting to reduce driver distraction and get a jump on competitors, Ford had introduced a voice- and touch-screen system for audio, navigation, and other functions. But drivers found the new system confusing, and Consumer Reports issued a withering report on its functionality. So Ford decided to listen to popular concern and go backwards: It will now make it possible to control volume and frequency with the twist of a knob. "Familiar and easy-to-use knobs are exceptionally good ways for drivers to control in-car entertainment systems," says Kelley Blue Books' Jack Nerad. "They make for less distraction and less frustration, and that translates into more convenience and improved safety."

    What's next? Are we going to see a return to ribbon speedometers, hub-mounted transmission buttons, or three-on-a-tree gear shifters? Not likely. In fact, the industry is moving in a different direction; many of the features that drivers of a certain age find familiar are dying out or already dead. Here's a partial list:

    1. Manual transmissions

    Traditional clutch-controlled manual transmissions have certified for the endangered list longer than the black-footed ferret. Automatic transmissions that don't require a third pedal have simply become slicker, smoother, more efficient, less expensive to buy, and easier on fuel consumption. Manual shifts as a percentage of cars sold had shrunk by half in the last decade to 3.8%, according to Edmunds.com, though they experienced a brief rebound in 2012. The popularity of manumatic shifters along with eight-speed automatics like the one found on the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee should further limit the desirability of stick shifts and limit their availability to specialty models.

    2. Keys

    Long ago replaced by the fob as the preferred way to open trunks and unlock doors -- when was the last time you saw an external keyhole anywhere on a car? -- stamped metal keys have been made redundant by ignitions that use start/stop buttons. On higher-end cars, the fob unlocks the door when the key-holder approaches the car, so it need not be lifted from a pocket or purse. Parking garage attendants complain that forgetful customer are forever walking away with their keys and leaving their cars immobilized, but they are in the minority. Coming next: cars that can be unlocked and started with your smartphone.

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