More and more cars these days are being offered with high-tech safety features such as parking sensors and cameras, a trend that is causing new car prices to spiral out of control, Fiat Chrysler global design chief Ralph Gilles warns.
“Cars are getting freakishly expensive, and the public isn’t willing to pay,” Gilles told an audience filled with members of the automotive industry during an Original Equipment Suppliers Association dinner in Michigan last week.
Gilles statements are awfully close to those of FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne, who in the past has called for industry consolidation in order to drive costs down. Marchionne believes that as technologies such as autonomous cars become more widespread, the only cost effective way to implement such technologies would be for automakers to share a common platform.
“In less than 10 years, all this new technology — park assist, speech recognition, blind-spot detection, iPod interface — all this stuff is becoming standard. That’s why I reach out to the supply community,” Gilles added. “We have to find a way to consolidate modules.”
Gilles used Chrysler’s own 2017 Pacifica minivan as an example of a car where technology has driven up costs. The vehicle, which was on stage with him at the time, is available with more than 100 safety and security features, including a 360-degree Surround View camera and Park Assist.
“Modules, modules and more modules. There’s so many modules (in the Pacifica). If we were to strip off this car, we’d probably have a basketful of modules — little black boxes that do something. It’s getting out of control. They’re very expensive. They’re tough to package. They’re very complex.”
“There are six cameras and God knows how many sensors, radar, lidar — everything on this van to make it safer, but it’s expensive. Wouldn’t it be nice to consolidate all that? We can’t just keep pasting sensors on a vehicle.”
Via Automotive News