As anybody who’s been around for at least a decade knows, we’re living in a crazy, hyper-connected world thanks to increasingly rapid technological advances. Everything is now wireless and mobile (or at least has the potential to be, for a few extra dollars). Ironically, those big metal boxes we use to get around from place to another is one of the last big ticket items to go truly mobile in the technological sense of the word.
The cars of 2017 and beyond seem to be the stuff of dreams – but we’re making them a reality. Here are ten trends you can look forward to seeing at a dealership near you, whether it’s now or in the very near future.
- Wireless: The cars and infrastructure of today are being built with the future in mind. Going wireless is one of the biggest trends when it comes to forward-thinking. Apple Carplay and Android Auto are as common to cars now as a tape-deck was twenty years ago. The next big step is to get all cars hooked up with the internet, so that you can keep up with the world from wherever you are.
- Autonomous Driving: Going wireless is just one big cog in the wheel. Another huge trend is getting our cars to be able to drive themselves. While Tesla’s autopilot has already proven that we’re halfway there, the real goal goes beyond individual cars. Ford is experimenting with connecting cars to one another, allowing them to sense each other and to deal with sudden obstacles or potential accidents immediately. Bosch too has experimented with traffic jam assist technology, making use of cameras to analyze surrounding vehicles in order to make autonomous acceleration, braking and steering a reality.
- Connectivity: The autonomous driving experiments of today are just a stepping stone for the real goal: a true network of cars connected by the cloud, along with autonomous road infrastructures. While such technology is still a few year away, they will one day allow for cars to communicate with each other and to fully interact with the world, whether it be other cars, obstacles or pedestrians. This would reduce the possibility of accidents, as cars would be able to break themselves before you even get the chance to see a problem. While we’re not yet close to having totally hands-off vehicles, at the rate technology is advancing, ten years doesn’t seem like a bad estimate…
- Improved Impact Absorption: While having internet in the car definitely sounds amazing, you know what’s even more awesome? Not having to worry about your car getting crushed. Car companies want to take safety seriously, and Volvo has made it their goal to stop in-vehicle deaths by 2020. Trust the Swedes to make such an intense commitment, but if they succeed, they’ll be paving the way to making roads safer for everyone – inside a Volvo or not.
- Parking Assistance: They say that reality is often stranger than fiction. Anybody who’s been to Youtube knows this, and when it comes to the world of cars, you probably won’t even blink at how many videos that show you drivers attempting the worst parking jobs imaginable. The premium cars of 2017 now offer parking assistance, and while there have been a few very embarrassing and unfortunate glitches, you can expect this technology to become more developed over the coming years. Sadly (or not), those 20-minute clips showing people tenaciously attempting to parallel park will become the fodder of #ThrowbackThursdays once parking assistance becomes ubiquitous.
- Smart Headlights: Along with auto-park technology, smart headlights are another new trend to look forward to that will make your driving experience just a little bit more comfortable – and safer. While this isn’t as flashy as having a car-to-car connected network, it will still be incredibly useful. Think along the lines of improved high-beam technology, which means not being blinded by other drivers. You can thank Audi for experimenting with this one. Swivelling headlights like the kind Vovlo is working on may also someday help you see more of the road, especially when turning a corner. Even LED lights, which were previously only to be found in premium cars, can now be found in affordable models, including the Ford Focus.
- Electric Revolution: Another trend that’s well underway is the development of electric and hybrid vehicles. Everybody from Hyundai to BMW has something under their sleeves, and the electric revolution has only just begun. Mileage is increasing by the year, just as electric powering station networks grow. Many places also have government incentives in place to encourage drivers to consider going electric.
- Electric Evolution: Just because the rest of the world is changing doesn’t mean the old classics gotta go. Manufacturer DMCEV offers the DeLorean you dreamed of when Back to the Future first came out in 1986, but in this version of the future (aka NOW), it’s fully electric. If you’ve been saving half your life to pick up a classic Ford Mustang or what have you, who knows – they may just roll one out in a fully electric version, just in time for your third midlife crisis.
- Electric Esthetics: So not everybody is a fan of electric or hybrid vehicles, and we get it… they’re relatively new to the roster, and some of the ones you’ve seen just might remind you of what happened when Homer Simpson was given free rein to design a new car. That said, we’re in 2017 now, and Tesla isn’t the only champion of esthetics. BMW’s latest i8 is super sleek, but you can even get the faithful Ford Focus in an electric version without sacrificing looks.
- External Noise Projection: One final trend that companies with electric vehicles may begin to focus on is figuring out how to make their cars noisier. Sounds weird, eh? But the truth is, while drivers may benefit from the fact that electric vehicles are pretty much noiseless, pedestrians don’t. Not being able to hear a car coming can be dangerous, which is why external noise speakers or some other such technology will be important in reducing accidents when electric cars become more ubiquitous. Here’s to hoping all this new technology will be integrated gracefully!