Auto shows occur all over the world each year – from Paris to New York, Vancouver to Detroit. And typically, automotive shows are places where people can see new models of vehicles and get an idea of where the car industry is going in terms of trends and technology. This past year has been particularly buzz-worthy when it comes to automotive shows as manufacturers announce new plans for their companies and new directions for the vehicles they produce. At Goliath, we have had our ear to the ground and provide you with the following list of the 10 things generating the most buzz at auto shows. Consider yourself informed.
10. Moving Away From Diesel Engines
Many automotive manufacturers are taking steps to develop new engines for their cars and move away from diesel powered engines. At The Paris Auto Show, Nissan unveiled a new engine design that its executives claim will render turbo-charged diesel engines obsolete. With environmental regulations on engine emissions tightening around the world, a move away from diesel engines seems to be a common play for auto manufacturers. While this may be good for the air we breathe, it is having repercussions in the global automotive industry. Volkswagen, for example, recently announced 1,400 job cuts at its diesel-engine unit. And Renault recently announced that it is planning to phase out diesel engines all together on its fleet of vehicles. Other manufacturers have said that diesel engine options will only remain for their line of trucks.
9. Consumers Are Not That Interested in Self-Driving Cars
To listen to automotive experts and forecasters, the future is all about self-driving cars. And a considerable amount of money and resources are being spent in an effort to develop a completely autonomous motor vehicle. However, it turns out that consumers aren’t nearly as enthusiastic about self-driving cars as the auto industry. A recent survey by Kelley Blue Book, that polled 2,264 U.S. citizens, found that 80% of people think they should always have the option to drive themselves; 64% of people surveyed said they need to be in control of their own vehicle; and 62% said they enjoy driving. Furthermore, one-third of people surveyed said they would never ever buy a self-driving car – ever! Even among the target demographic of millennials, 60% of people polled said they would not want to live in a world in which all cars on the road are self-driving. Clearly, some work needs to be done to “sell” motorists on the concept of self-driving cars.
8. SUVs Are Cool Again
Sport utility vehicles, or SUVs as they are more commonly known, took a beating in recent years for being wasteful gas guzzlers. As gas prices rose, the popularity of SUVs declined. People found it hard to justify the high cost of filling up an SUV as environmentalists heaped scorn on the vehicles for polluting the atmosphere. But now that gas prices are on the decline, the popularity of SUVs is once again on the rise. Automotive sales for the U.S. and Canada show that the most growth is coming from sales of SUVs and large sized trucks. This confirms what many automotive analysts have long speculated about – that consumers do not care about fuel efficiency and don’t necessarily want smaller, more efficient vehicles that can be found in places such as Europe and Asia. Americans and Canadians prefer big vehicles that have all the bells and whistles. As long as it doesn’t cost too much to fill them with gas, we’ll take an SUV any day over a sub-compact vehicle.
7. The More Technology, The Better
While consumers are not overly enthusiastic about self-driving cars, they do love all the bells and whistles that are being added to cars these days – from parking assist and rearview cameras to high-tech infotainment systems and voice command e-mail technology. Recent survey cards handed out at The Paris Auto Show found that consumers favor more, and not less, technology upgrades in their cars. The more advanced the infotainment system, the better. While some critics complain that all the added technology is distracting drivers and causing accidents, consumers love it and want more. The challenge for automakers will be to keep coming up with new innovations that improve the driving experience and integrate well with their vehicles other functions. But people love the way cars are getting tricked out these days.
When it comes to automotive safety, the focus has shifted to “prediction.” Years ago, automotive safety was focused on “prevention,” getting people to drive safer. Safe driver and defensive driver courses sprung up and public service announcements were all over television. In recent years, the safety focus shifted to “protection,” and adding new safety features to vehicles. Side impact air bags, crumple zones and more sophisticated seat belts were added to vehicles. But now, with the advent of newer technology, the focus has become “prediction,” or seeing a potential accident coming and preventing it from happening. Infrared and night vision cameras in cars today can spot pedestrians and bicyclists before the driver of a car and alert the motorist to a potential problem. Cars can also brake themselves even when the driver does not. This type of technology is helping to move the thinking on automotive safety and make our roads safer than ever before.
Next to self-driving cars, the biggest research and development focus for the auto industry is on biometrics. Opening your car door with a fingerprint and starting the engine with a retinal scanner are technologies that are currently available, and they are only growing in popularity as auto companies look for more ways to truly personalize your vehicle. Very soon, people will be able to use their unique and individual body parts to operate their vehicle rather than having to rely on traditional car keys. That means the days of losing your car keys will be over and instead people can rely on always being able to open and start their vehicle with the touch of their finger. While some consumer groups and privacy watchdogs balk at the notion of people allowing automakers to scan their fingerprints and eyeballs, the trend to biometric identifiers in vehicles is one that is quickly spreading.
4. Smart Phone Integration
People clearly want more technology in their cars. And one of the biggest demands coming from millennials is for full integration of their vehicle with their smartphone. Automakers have heard the call and their engineers and scientists are now exploring the idea of what they call “full phone integration.” What this means is that your smartphone would essentially replace your car keys. Rather than a key or fingerprint, people could use their phone’s near-field communication chip to lock and unlock the car, as well as fire up the engine and shut it off again. BMW unveiled this type of technology earlier this year at The Detroit Auto Show, and is expected to feature it in some of its cars in 2017. Other car manufacturers have confirmed that they too are experimenting with similar smart phone integration technology.
3. Luxury Brands Being Phased Out
As SUVs make a comeback of sorts, many previously popular and well-known luxury cars are being phased out at the end of 2016. These include venerable nameplates and brands such as the Dodge Viper, Aston Martin DB9, Rolls Royce Phantom Coupe, BMW M5, and Land Rover Defender. With luxury vehicle sales globally growing only 0.6% in the past year, many manufacturers are looking to save money by ceasing to make some of their weaker selling models. This is a trend that has been growing in recent years as brands such as Hummer, Saab and Suzuki have all disappeared as the companies that made them restructured and concentrated on building better selling vehicles.
2. Tech Companies Jumping Into the Auto Sector
Google is hard at work on developing and refining self-driving cars. But Google isn’t the only tech company that sees big opportunities in the auto industry. Apple was recently rumored to be attempting to buy automaker McLaren, and whispers persist that the company is also looking to get in on the development of self-driving cars. Meanwhile, Microsoft and carmaker Renault-Nissan recently announced that they are working on connected car services, including in-car productivity tools powered by the cloud. Microsoft sees a new market in filling cars with its software and technology. As previously mentioned, consumers are clamoring for more and more tech features in their vehicles. Clearly, technology companies see a large and lucrative market in vehicles giving how advanced they are becoming in terms of technology and entertainment features.
1. It’s All About the Battery
The recent Paris Auto Show was dominated by talk of electric cars, and, more specifically, the next generation of batteries used to power them. Many automotive experts feel that electric cars are at a tipping point in their global development, and that as the batteries used to power them become more durable and longer lasting, the appeal of these emission free vehicles will skyrocket. And many of the world’s leading automakers are jumping on the bandwagon. In Paris, both Nissan and Volkswagen unveiled all electric cars with new, high-end batteries capable of dramatically increasing their driving range on a single charge. The Volkswagen I.D. electric car, in particular, generated a lot of buzz. Traditional car makers are now hoping to challenge upstarts such as Tesla that have, until now, been out front in the manufacturing of next generation batteries used to power electric cars. As battery technology improves, the number of automotive manufacturers expected to go all in on electric cars is expected to increase.