Car makers get creative at Silicon Valley auto show

January 8, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
The Silicon Valley International Auto Show is attracting crowds and car lovers. It is also the first time in a long time consumers are interested in more than just what is under the hood.

"They also want great style, affordable, and it has to have all of those cool features that make the car stand apart from all others," Scott Settlemire from General Motors said.

In a time when U.S. auto sales in 2009 fell to their lowest level in 30 years, car makers are forced to be creative and competitive.

GM's sales have dropped 33 percent, and so at this year's show the company is pushing its new On-Star system which promises to stop high speed car chases.

"If somebody steals your car and takes off down the highway, our new On-Star allows us to actually slow the car down in a safe manner to where it can be pulled off the road," Settlemire said.

GM's biggest U.S. competitor, Ford, is taking speed and parental control into consideration this year. The "My Key" system allows parents to set limits on the car before their teen driver gets behind the wheel.

"You program the pod... to regulate the top speed of a vehicle, the top radio volume of the radio and it also gives you a warning if the seat belt is not fastened," Dee Dee Taft from the Silicon Valley Auto Show said.

"I think that's the best thing they could have done to cars. I think all the cars should do that because kids today drive too aggressively," Mike Barrett from Fremont said.

"They have got to come up with an edge. Every brand needs to differentiate, so now it's the cool gadgets, the interface," Greg Biggs from Elk Grove said.

Consumers do still want reliable and fuel efficient cars, they're also demanding more bells and whistles simply because they know they can.