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6 Companies Building the Car of the Future

A look at who's behind the tech in the cabin and under the hood

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Auto sales for February are out, and the data shows buyers are getting back behind the wheel. Forget about those persistent and pernicious high gasoline prices, people are driving to the lot with the old, and leaving with the new.

Ford (NYSE:F) reported a 14% in February year-over-year sales, while General Motors (NYSE:GM) posted an increase of only 1% — though that bested expectations for a February decline. And both Honda (NYSE:HMC) and Toyota (NYSE:TM) posted 12% monthly year-over-year gains, respectively.

The upward-trending sales numbers in February, along with the positive metrics in the space in 2011, suggest a marked resurgence in the industry that’s liable to have legs. It’s also a positive harbinger for the future, because the bigger the profits now, the more these companies can expand and improve their offerings to consumers.

Part of the improvement in cars these days is the degree of technology even the most modest new models offer. Thanks to new GPS navigation technology, batteries for hybrid cars, new software systems and many other developments, technology is the new horsepower of auto world. Innovations such as helping to avoid traffic jams, reserving parking spaces and even driving themselves all will be attributes of the autos of tomorrow. Here’s a look at six companies building these cars of the future:

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