Cars have become less like glorified horse-and-carriages and more like spacecraft. It’s amazing what these machines can achieve these days. Judging from the concepts manufacturers are coming up with, it’s only going to get more interesting. When it comes to brands that have embraced artificial intelligence, making strides in technological advancement; three names stand out. Mercedes, Toyota, and Tesla have been working on space-age models; and we took the time to check them out.
Toyota has been working on getting some of their cars to communicate with others, sharing statistics in real-time, giving each other insight into safely maneuvering around certain areas. The company was poised to give Tesla a run for its money with a high-tech operating system called Arene. A robotics expert straight from Silicon Valley was roped in on the project, resulting in hardware-editing capabilities and software-creating facilities.
Toyota’s Tundra will detect pedestrians for you. It’ll warn you when you get out of your lane, trace a lane, and help you stick to it. Traffic sign recognition, blind spot monitor, rear cross-traffic alert; you can get it all with the Tundra. Start the car remotely with a key fob or mobile device. Have your steering manoeuvres stabilized with emergency steering assist. There’s even a Parking Support Brake to help you avoid collisions. If that doesn’t signal the future, we don’t know what does.
While the Toyota Tundra isn’t available for the South African market yet, the most basic one will set you back almost R550, 000. The good thing is that Australia was set to receive a left-hand drive version, which suggests it may end up landing on South African shores. For a robust van like this packed with that much technology to go for that much is pretty impressive, no doubt about it.
The Mercedes S-class is one of the most advanced models from the company to date. It’s the epitome of comfort and convenience, a truly intuitive car which allows for one of the most intimate symbioses we’ve seen. You will talk to this car, letting you do your bidding through an array of commands. You will make gestures and it will act accordingly. An award-winning car, the World Luxury Car of the Year was created with a lot of attention to detail.
Consider how the seats have 10 different massage settings, with adjustable comfort levels in the front seats powered by 19 motors. As if that wasn’t enough, they’ll sense an incoming collision and shield you; yes, the seats will do this. When you’re parking, you’ll be supported, when there’s a risk of you crashing, the car will take protective measures. While the air filtration mechanism, perfume spray, and climate control are impressive, it’s the fingerprint recognition facility that really raises eyebrows. The car will literally change the way it operates just to suit a particular driver.
Mercedes wanted to create a car that can adapt to any situation, and that’s why the S-Class has the E-Active Body control feature. The car will instinctually lean into corners for you, guaranteeing balance and stamina. Having been built at the most advanced factory Mercedes has, with many of the components made from recycled materials; the S-Class is a car fit for the future.
The S-Class goes for nearly R2.5 million when bought brand new. There will of course be variations on that figure depending on which S-Class you decide to go for, but that’s the ballpark figure to keep in mind. Add R76, 000 into the mix, and you can get the AMG line, adding some character to the exterior and giving your cabin trim a bit of an improvement.
Automation accounts for a majority of Tesla production, so you know the company is serious about it. The autosteer feature on the new Tesla models relies on external cameras and ultrasonic sensors to inform the car about its surroundings. An onboard computer brings it all together in a beautiful symphony of well-packaged data.
The autopilot package on the Tesla will calculate the average speed of the cars around you and match the speed of your car. The full self-driving capability promises to help you change lanes and park with the touch of a button. You can even summon the car with a phone or key when caught up in a tight spot. While it’s great to see the company generally improve all its models, one model to have created a lot of excitement, and for good reason.
Tesla’s Model S Plaid will take you 627 kilometres on a single charge and the company says it’s the quickest production car. This thing’s got super-efficient motors with carbon sleeved rotors. It’s got an aerodynamic exterior and on the inside there’s an infotainment system which is reportedly equivalent to the Playstation 5. The infotainment system is only worth mentioning because it’ll prove to be important when the company perfects its automation technology.
The price for a Tesla Model S Plaid should translate to about R2.3 million Rand. If you consider the cost of shipping, however, that turns into over R4 million. Importing a Tesla into South Africa will result in a near-doubling of the price, with potential additional costs to deal with along the way. As we start to see more EV infrastructure set up in the country, hopefully we’ll get to buy Teslas on home ground.
The Good and the Bad
We’ve heard of Tesla owners being caught sleeping at the wheel, which is pretty cool but also worrying. It’s great that the Toyota Tundra can detect traffic signs for you, but such technology raises concerns because of how lazy they can make drivers. If the Mercedes S-class can lean into corners for you, you may be tempted to let it do it for you all the time. The future of cars has got us biting our fingers, and we can’t help but watch the innovation at its best.