Detroit Auto Show 2015: best new tech

Audi interior virtual cockpit

The 2015 North American International Auto Show in Detroit may have finished up this past weekend, but the vehicles and technologies that were on display will live on. This year in particular, there was an abundance of new innovations that are either coming soon or already available in showroom cars. Let’s take a look at some of our favourites.

Audi Virtual Cockpit

Audi Virtual Cockpit

Many manufacturers are already using some form of digital representation in their instrument clusters to show speed, engine rpms, navigation or other pertinent driver information. Audi’s Virtual Cockpit, however, can literally do it all within a 12.3-inch display.

In “Classic” mode, a traditional speedometer and rev counter appear on either side of the display sandwiching other visual data dependent on what function you have selected. In “Infotainment” mode, the dials shrink down to allow more room for things like a map, or even the live image from the backup camera.

Commands are primarily controlled with a Multi Media Interface (MMI) rotary knob that has been revised to make it easier to use. The Audi Virtual Cockpit will be an option for the upcoming Audi Q7 as well as the new TT.

Honda FCV

Honda FCV

Making its North American Debut at NAIAS, the FCV represents Honda’s latest stab at the hydrogen fuel cell market. An evolution of the FCX, the company’s first fuel cell vehicle attempt from the early 2000s that resembled a Honda Insight, the FCV follows a much more avant-garde design concept with its robotic-looking exterior.

There aren’t a whole lot of specifics at this point, but this zero-emissions car seats five people, has a range of nearly 500 kilometres and can be filled up in about three minutes. Released in Japan in November, it is scheduled to launch Stateside in March of 2016.

2016 Toyota Tacoma

Toyota Tacoma Atkinson cycle V6

There was a lot of buzz around the redesigned 2016 Toyota Tacoma, and that’s partially because of the newly introduced 3.5-litre V6 engine. It’s not just any six cylinder, though — it features Atkinson cycle technology, something that’s also heavily featured in the Toyota/Lexus portfolio of hybrid vehicles.

Although the “Taco” isn’t a hybrid, the same concept applies here. In very basic terms, on an Atkinson cycle-equipped motor, virtually every last drop of energy that is left in a cylinder following a complete combustion cycle is utilized to turn the wheels, leaving nothing wasted. That means it is more efficient than a traditional gasoline engine, which translates into better fuel economy.

As a bonus, the V6 only is being offered with an optional six-speed manual transmission. The 2016 Tacoma is slated to come out later this year.

Posted by Benjamin Yong

Benjamin Yong is a freelance journalist and communications professional living in Richmond, B.C. He is often found writing about cars and the auto industry, amongst other things, or driving around in his work-in-progress 1990 Mazda MX-5. Twitter: @b_yong Instagram: @popuplights