Night vision/radar would be a great addition. I know when I hit a deer, it only appeared in my lights maybe .5 seconds before the hit. Good thing the SAAB just rolled right over it.
Wildlife collisions have cost me (and my insurers) >$10k in the past year. Mass-produce night vision/radar, and I'm sure that the cost of a system would be far lower than that. There's nothing wrong with a car costing more up-front, if it will cost less to operate (adjusted for the time value of money) in the future compared to the alternatives.
All in all, increased standards will be a double-edged sword. Yes, the costs will be more but look at the benefits. It was a
slow climb up from the emissions/insurance/fuel economy-mandated wasteland of the mid-late 70's. But look what cars we got 25 years later. I can't imagaine it will take as long this tie to overcome the hurdles.
The cost of operating a car today, over its entire life cycle, has never been cheaper. Not only are the cars themselves dirt cheap, but they are so much safer and burn so much less fuel than older models that they could cost double or triple what they cost in the 1960s/1970s, and still would be a better deal overall (adjusted for inflation, of course).
The more efficient engines will pay off over time as well. Oil is an increasingly scarce resource, and chances are, its going to be hard to import a lot of it in the future.
Still, why does it seem that each time we go through this, it's at the worst financial time possible?
This is exactly the time in which people need to be making investments in becoming more efficient and more productive, to reap the benefits of those investments in the future. Investments in energy efficiency in the 1970s lead to prosperity in the 80s and 90s. Investment in basic technology and science in the 50s and 60s, led to entire industries being created. Financial crises are the result of malinvestment, and innefficiency in an economy, falling productivity (ie: bankers really
don't accomplish anything...), and depleted capital stock (ie: in the auto industry, R&D and innovation).