What’s going on in the wide world of automobiles?
The car industry is changing at such a rapid speed that most vehicle showrooms and dealerships look quite different than they did 10 years ago. Drivers and dealers alike have to adjust to this changing world as best they can.
We took a look at a few concepts that came out of the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, and tried to guess what effect they would have on future auto industry trends. Here’s what we came up with:
Obviously, fully automated vehicles are all that car enthusiasts and manufacturers can talk about these days. Although that eventual advance will have a tremendous impact on everyone, the inescapable fact is that self-driving cars are still on the distant horizon.
The technology that is currently having a huge impact within the market is improved driver-assist systems. Adaptive cruise control is better-equipped to use distance to gauge speed. Rear-view cameras are now complemented by side and top cameras. Motion sensor technology is safer and saner. Much of this technology has existed in one form or another for years, but it will continue to play a massive role in auto innovation for at least the next 15-20 years.
Electric and hybrid are huge buzzwords in the car industry right now, and manufacturers are taking notice. Major companies like Chevrolet, Ford and Volkswagen all have multiple models in the pipeline for 2018, and more announcements are being made every day. The only problem is that consumers don’t seem to share their enthusiasm. Hybrid purchases fell by 25% in 2016, and electric purchases only climbed by 1%. Everyone in the industry has to figure out if this is a brief downturn or the beginning of a larger problem.
Internet connections in cars are already popular, but soon they’ll be everywhere. That will allow cars and car companies to mine lots of data from drivers and driving experiences that will hopefully make the road safer. There are even new regulations being kicked around Washington, D.C., that suggest every car on the road should be able to communicate with each other by 2020 in order to decrease accidents. Pretty wild stuff!
Journalists have spilled a lot of ink complaining that millennials have “killed” things. But is the car industry one of them? Sure, millennials use ridesharing apps like Uber and Lyft, and many have gravitated into urban centers where ownership of a car is not a necessity. However, according to a J.D. Power consumer survey in 2016, millennials make up 28% of the new car market. That is a very high number, and it’ll only get higher as members of the generation progress into middle age.
The future is sure to surprise all of us in some way, but it also might end up looking awfully familiar. In Detroit, Toyota came back with a 2018 Camry (the best-selling car across North America for 15 years) and Ford showed off its new F-150 (the best-selling truck for the last 30.) Ford and Toyota still dominate the Canadian market as well, sitting atop the units-sold leaderboard for 2016-17 according to Statista.
More and more companies are embracing the nostalgia of the 1970s and 80s, and their customers love it. Consumers shouldn’t be surprised to see an all-electric, eco-friendly version of Volkswagen’s iconic ‘microbus’ in the near future!
Even though the industry is changing before our eyes, sometimes the old saying still goes: the more things change, the more they stay the same.
Trends are constantly in flux, and dealers have to keep up. Did you know that over 97% of buyers research their car purchases online? Or that they spend an average of 19 hours doing so?
For more about what customers want from their online dealer sales experience, check out our article on the Top 5 Car Buyer Wants!