Things move fast in the auto industry.
Gizmos that once seemed to be the norm are now obsolete, while some long-standing features are slowly going extinct. It's easy to list down features we no longer see in cars today. Some of them include cassette decks, power antennas, and pop-up headlights (sadly).
But what about features that are endangered? Some of these might still be around today, but don't expect most of these to hang around longer. These are some of the endangered features of modern cars.
1. CD players and changers
The CD player replaced the cassette deck in the 2000s, but now it's under threat from Bluetooth and smartphone linking. While there are still a few manufacturers who still fit CD players and changers in their cars (Lexus still swears by them), the convenience of linking mobile devices to audio systems has made optical media obsolete. Further accelerating its (possible) demise is the advent of music streaming services such as Spotify, YouTube Music, and Apple Music.
Let's face it, it's not worth lugging around dozens of CDs if you have access to thousands of songs and artists at your fingertips. Also, modern infotainment systems with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto make in-car entertainment much more convenient.
2. External telescopic antennas
If you had a power antenna on your car back then, you were the business. These days, you don't see these sticking out anymore. Most of them have been replaced by “shark fins” or having it printed on the glass. That said, there are a few examples of the classic antenna still hanging around. Most notably, the Ford F-150 still has it proudly planted on its fender.
3. Side-facing seats
How did we cram ten (or more) people in a Tamaraw FX back then? You have side-facing jump seats to thank for that, but it's not exactly the most comfortable way to transport people around, especially in an AUV or a PUV.
These days, peripheral seats are relegated to dual-purpose people movers (L300, Traviz) although some entry-level vans still have it to boost seating capacity. Another notable example is the (immortal) Toyota Land Cruiser Troop Carrier. However, most vans and MPVs have taken the front-facing seat approach for better comfort and safety.
4. Front row center seats
While we're on the subject of seats, another one in danger of going extinct is the front benches. Like jump seats, these are mostly relegated to work vehicles and a few single cab pick-ups. One of the reasons why these have fallen out of fashion is because of safety.
It's rather difficult to put an airbag in the middle of the dashboard because of all the in-car tech these days. However, Toyota found a way around that in the Hiace Commuter with a front-center airbag. But with more screens tacked on center stacks these days, we can't see how these can make a comeback.
5. Manual crank windows
Crank windows are typically reserved for base models. But even then, you don't see them in new cars anymore. As cars get better features and pack more value, basic cars aren't so basic anymore. Heck, you can even get a touchscreen on a brand new car that costs less than PHP 650,000. With that, it doesn't make much sense to offer a stripped car because customers demand more from cars these days.
Of course, there are some exceptions such as light commercial vehicles. Some offer it in basic sedans and hatchbacks. For instance, Suzuki still has wind-up windows on entry-level versions of the Dzire and S-Presso. However, we don't see this feature carrying through the next decade.
6. Ashtrays and 12-volt lighters
There was a time when smoking was cool and prevalent. If you walk into any mall in the nineties, chances are there is an ashtray/rubbish bin next to the escalator. Inflight smoking was still a thing for a lot of airlines in the nineties too.
But times change, and that's the same with cars. Just about every car out there came with a lighter and ashtray right up until the 2010s, but now not so much.
As the world takes a more anti-smoking stance, it seems that car manufacturers wouldn't want to encourage the habit as well. Some luxury automakers offer what's called a Smoker's Package, but it's a rather expensive option. As they say, cigarette smoking is dangerous to your health.
7. Mechanical parking brake
Is the traditional parking brake on its way out, too? In recent times, automakers have made electronic parking brakes standard. What started as a feature in luxury cars have made their way to more pedestrian models.
Granted, there is still a large chunk of cars with a handbrake (less so for foot-operated parking brakes), the use of the electronic system is becoming more widespread. This trend isn't limited to cars, either. Truck-based vehicles are also getting in on it with the Mitsubishi Montero Sport being one of the first to adopt this system.
8. Full-size spare tires
In a bid to maximize cargo space, some carmakers have chucked out the full-size spare in favor of more compact solutions. These days, you're usually greeted by a donut (or space-saver) wheel that's a lot smaller and narrower than the ones fitted to your car. Others go for a tire repair kit that involves you injecting foam into your tire to plug the puncture. Then you have some luxury automakers that ditch the spare altogether by fitting their cars with run-flat tires.
Thankfully most pick-ups and SUVs still carry a large spare tire (that are sometimes too easy to nick, by the way), but that might not be the case for passenger cars in the coming years.
9. Exterior keyholes
Perhaps the one feature that we expect to vanish in the next few years is the keyhole on a lot of vehicle doors. Surprising, isn't it?
There are some vehicles that already have this once essential feature omitted on the doors, and the major reason is the prevalence of proximity keys or smart keys. It is just more convenient to walk up to your vehicle and unlock it just by pressing the button on the grip or even just grabbing the handle.
But don't worry, many of the vehicles that deleted the external keyhole actually still have it; usually it's tucked under the little lip that stays on the door when you pull it open. That's more for emergencies just in case your smart keyfob ran out of voltage.
10. Filament-type light bulbs
Owners of older vehicles understand that sometimes after a few months or even years, the bulbs may need replacing. That was the norm with older cars with incandescent and/or incandescent 12-volt bulbs for headlights, taillights, turn indicators, so on and so forth.
The interim (and premium) upgrade over standard headlight bulbs was the high-intensity discharge (HID) xenon bulb. These bulbs produced light estimated to be 100 times brighter than a similar halogen, last 10 times as long, and generated far less heat. But such bulbs were usually just reserved for forward-facing lights (head, fog). It wasn't until the arrival of LEDs that automotive lighting has changed.
They may not produce as much candela or lumens as HID, but the advantage is clear: there should be no need to replace the LEDs of the vehicle under normal operating conditions. LEDs can run for 15,000 hours (or more depending on the manufacturer) while filament bulbs typically go for about 1,000 hours.
It comes as no surprise that more and more cars are using light-emitting diode (LED) technology for all automotive lighting purposes from the taillights, indicators, position lamps, foglights, cabin lights, and more recently the headlights. It's just more convenient.
Going, going, gone?
Why are car companies getting rid of some features? The simplest answer here is some of them are becoming obsolete, particularly when it comes to in-car entertainment. Other features fall by the wayside because of packaging reasons and designs. Other times, it's moving on with the times. Either way, features come and go, following whatever the trend is in the industry.
Of course, there are some features we don't want to see disappear, but that's a story for another time.