If there was one word to describe current automobile industry trends, it would be, without a doubt, "tech." Consumers are showing no interest in rolling back the connectivity of their vehicles, and there is a distinct push for electric, as well as automated and autonomous, cars and trucks.
In this article, we'll quickly run down a few of the overarching themes of auto industry trends for 2022 and 2023.
The market for electric vehicles continues to heat up, with experts saying consumer demand more than doubled in 2021, according to NBC News. This is in part fueled by a major shift toward clean energy by numerous countries and U.S. states, per Yahoo! Finance. The U.K., Germany, the Netherlands and Germany have all made a commitment to transition to electric vehicles by 2050, as has the province of Quebec in Canada. In the U.S., California, Rhode Island, New York, Connecticut, Oregon and Vermont have taken a similar stance. Washington State remains the most stringent of all, having issued a recent decree to the effect that all light-duty vehicles should be electric by the year 2030.
While it is becoming increasingly convenient to own an electric vehicle, with more charging centers popping up every week, the benefits are not distributed equally. The vehicles can be more expensive upfront, and repairs tend to be complex. Also, certain technologies that serve as the basis for the electric vehicle functionality, such as regenerative braking, are not as beneficial in certain settings.
Using regenerative braking as a specific example, it has been recognized that less energy is conserved by braking maneuvers at low speed, such as city driving. This decreases the overall efficiency of electric vehicles, and leads to the need to charge them more often. Making the technology more reliably beneficial across the spectrum of consumer lifestyles will likely become a goal of automobile companies in coming years.
The degree of automation in consumer products, including automobiles, seems to escalate with every passing year, perhaps in response to the increasing complexity and complexity of peoples' schedules. While we have not yet reached Jetsons-level autonomy, automation is definitely poised to take the main stage as far as current consumer automotive trends.
Driver assistance technology has been around for many years, and appears to be here to stay. From backup cameras to digital windshield alerts and hands-free GPS instructions, we are just too reliable on this technology to turn back now. As a bridge to fully automated cars and trucks, certain companies, including Mercedes Benz, Acura and (of course) Tesla are hoping to soon begin offering vehicles capable of Level 3 automation, according to CNet, which means the vehicle can self-pilot in very limited circumstances, including at low speeds, in traffic or on pre-mapped roads. The Mercedes Benz offering is currently slated for mass production beginning this year.
It's been many years since cars first became "connected," which is to mean wirelessly linked to the outside world via the Internet of Things (IoT), and it appears this trend is here to stay. The most popular options seem to revolve around tools to help with work and personal entertainment. Whether it's in-car navigation systems, access to Wi-Fi hotspots, email and hands-free text messaging, or any of the other many selections that help consumers remain in contact and on track throughout their day, it's a sure bet that consumers will jump for anything that boosts their connectivity.
Beyond entertainment and lifestyle options, connected cars are now also able to utilize the IoT for purposes of vehicle diagnostics and maintenance, further helping to streamline everyday life. Using this technology, vehicles can transmit important data remotely to error and maintenance logs. Rather than having consumers report and try to describe vehicle issues, now certain vehicles can take care of some of the reporting in an automated manner.
As we begin to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, it is clear that consumers are in the market for advances in vehicle technology and overall connectivity. While certain trends are readily accessible at this time, such as access to driver assistance technology, things like fully autonomous vehicles remain a highly desirable moonshot. Only time will tell how quickly certain trends will unfold, but the theme for the next year or so is clear — more technology.
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