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Cars Run Longer Now, but Their Interiors Aren’t Keeping Up

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Automakers are working to devise car interiors that last as long as engines and other components
Photo: Buick

Compared to vehicles from previous generations, your car’s engine is likely to be far more durable and reliable — but the same can’t be said for its interior.

Vehicles on the road in 2018 were an average of 11.8 years old — the oldest they’ve ever been, thanks to better engineering (and longer loan terms). Unfortunately, the materials used in most vehicles’ cabins doesn’t have the same longevity as the components under the hood, leaving them vulnerable to deterioration.

To combat this, automakers and suppliers are hard at work developing advanced materials that will last up to 50 percent longer than the current norm. Higher-quality paints, more durable synthetic fabrics and leather, and tougher plastics are all in the works across the industry.

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Automakers are also working to design more infotainment systems that can handle over-the-air software updates, thus extending their lifespan and preserving their usability. Making vehicles with this capability isn’t exactly cheap, but the investment is likely to be worth it in the long run. There’s a lot of room for improvement in this area — many drivers prefer technologies like Android Auto and Apple CarPlay because they typically work faster than automakers’ built-in systems.

Automakers recognize that the lack of interior durability is a problem. While drivers benefit from being able to hang on to a vehicle longer, they’re unlikely to enjoy that extra time if it’s spent inside a cabin that’s faded, stained, scuffed, or equipped with aging and balky infotainment technology. Worn-out interiors on heavily used Uber and Lyft cars also have the potential to leave a bad impression — something automakers just can’t afford as they fight to keep sales strong.

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News Source: USA Today