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AAA Rates New Vehicle Technology

April 16, 2009

Every model year, automakers find more ways to introduce new technologies in their vehicles. Whether for safety, convenience or simply the 'wow' factor, high-tech features are prevalent on nearly every new model. To help motorists determine which new features they might want to check out, AAA has released its top-10 picks for technology available on 2009 and 2010 models. 

AAA's top-10 picks for new vehicle technology are: 

MyKey - Introduced by Ford, MyKey employs a computer chip in the vehicle's ignition key to limit teen drivers' top speed and other vehicle functions. Parents can program the teen's key to limit audio system levels and sound a continuous alert if the driver doesn't wear a seatbelt. Another MyKey option is the ability to sound a chime if the teen driver exceeds 45, 55 or 65 mph. While this technology does not replace the need for parental involvement with teen drivers, MyKey can be a helpful tool when used in conjunction with AAA's driver training and parent-teen driving agreement. 

MyKey will be introduced as a standard feature in the 2010 Ford Focus, Escape hybrid, and selected other vehicles before spreading to the entire Ford, Lincoln and Mercury lineup as models are updated. 

Solar Roof Panels - Some hybrid models now integrate solar roof panels into their designs, making this technology one of two environmentally-friendly features on AAA's top-10 list. The Karma luxury hybrid sedan, due out in November 2009 from American sports car company Fisker Automotive, will have a solar roof partitioned into four zones with 20 solar cells in series that convert sunlight into electrical energy. The power generated can be sent to the electric motors that drive the car, used to power the climate controls or stored for future use. 

The 2010 Toyota Prius uses a solar roof to power a fan that circulates fresh air through the interior when the vehicle is parked. This keeps the passenger compartment cooler and reduces the load on the electrically powered air conditioning system the next time the car is driven. 

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