Today’s cars can come equipped with any luxury and comfort feature imaginable. But, this wasn’t always the case. In this article, we’ll discuss how technology transformed automotive interiors. By the time you’re done reading, you’ll have a newfound appreciation for your car’s interior.

The early 1900s

In a lot of ways, the earliest automobiles were quite similar to carriages. Both were open-air vehicles, so drivers and passengers were exposed to the elements. Unless you had perfect weather, chances are you’d be too hot, too cold, or too wet. That all changed in 1910, when Cadillac came out with the first closed body car. With this invention, automakers started looking for ways to make interiors more comfortable.

This brought about a few important innovations. Cadillac released the Model Thirty in 1912, which came with an electronic self-starter, ignition, and lighting. In 1914, luxury Scripps-Booth cars were equipped with power door locks. 1929 saw the first interior heating system from Ford. These inventions were all significant because they paved the way for more advancements in auto interiors.

Music innovations

The focus on interiors brought advancements to car radios and sound systems. In the late 1920s, the first AM radios were installed. By the 1930s, these were standard in most cars. The first AM/FM radio didn’t appear until 1950. In 1966, the Ford Mustang came equipped with an 8-track player. These were ultimately phased out in favor of cassette players. The cutting-edge technology of the 1980s was the car CD player. These were popular through the 1990s and early 2000s. At this point, compact digital storage media took off. These days, it’s easy to stream music from your personal device to your vehicle. Automotive sound systems have certainly come a long way!

Climate control comfort

In 1940, Packard Motor Car Company had two huge breakthroughs. These were in-car air conditioners and power windows. Both made it possible to manage the interior temperature of the car. Building on these ideas, Cadillac developed an automatic climate control system in 1960. This let people set the temperature inside their cars. By 1980, Cadillac came out with an all-electronic version of this system. This is the basis for what automakers use today.

Seat improvements and comfort

The 1966 Cadillac DeVille was the first car to feature heated seats. Since then, manufacturers have created many other heated features, from steering wheels to side panels. Ventilated seats were invented in 1998 by Saab, creating a cooling experience for drivers. The ultimate luxury seat comes from Mercedes, who created a massaging car seat in the 2000s. I don’t know if anything can top that.

Modern technology and human machine interfaces

Modern cars have smart interfaces that allow for integration of your smartphone or personal device. This technology is called HMI, or “human machine interface”. With HMI technology, you can adjust lots of interior features, including:

  1. Touch interfaces
  2. Internet and cloud connectivity
  3. Wireless communication
  4. GPS
  5. Seat comfort and interior temperature
  6. Advanced lighting and sound systems

HMI technology gives drivers control of luxury interior features with the tap of a screen.

We’ve sure come a long way since the open-air autos of the early 1900s. Early automakers couldn’t have fathomed the features we have today, not to mention the ease with which we can control them. Do you have questions about the interior features in your vehicle? Our experienced technicians at Carlson Automotive have answers. Give us a call today at (651) 458-5158 for our Cottage Grove Location, or (651) 578-0885 for our Maplewood location. You can also ​request an appointment online​. We look forward to hearing from you.