Famed physicist Niels Bohr is quoted as saying “Prediction is very difficult, especially if it’s about the future.” While predicting the future is incredibly difficult, one can look at trends in the past and make an educated guess as to the future’s composition. The dawn of a New Year presents the perfect opportunity to take a look at what trends will shape the future of the automotive industry.
2015 was an extremely interesting year for the automotive industry. Discussions of autonomous vehicle technology became a hot button issue and the practice of “e-hailing” and ride sharing became more commonplace. 2015 was also a very successful year for the industry. Aided by cheap gas prices and favorable interest rates, 2015 vehicle sales hit a new record, selling 17.5 million vehicles in the United States, up from 16.5 million in 2014.
Will the momentum generated in 2015 carry into the New Year? Most prognosticators seem to think so. According to the Wall Street Journal, “Economic signs point to 2016 being the healthiest domestic auto industry in decades, thanks to an improving labor market and low interest rates greasing U.S. demand.” Gas prices look to remain low for the foreseeable future, so look for consumers to continue to apply their fuel savings toward new vehicles.
Several automotive sources predict that “Going Even More Green” will be a major trend in 2016. Despite inexpensive gasoline, there persists a strong drive toward more environmentally friendly vehicles. A Ford Global Trends study found that consumers are feeling increasingly guilty about their environmental footprint, a feeling that very well could lead to a spike in fuel-efficient and alternative vehicle sales. Millennials are becoming a burgeoning market and are one of the most environmentally conscious generations. The vehicles they purchase will likely be influenced by their environmental concerns.
Not surprisingly, as we continue to venture into a connected world, it is expected that increased in-vehicle connectivity will continue as a major trend. Drivers in many cities are experiencing longer commutes and, as a result, want vehicles that suit their specific needs. For example, some options make it possible to turn your vehicle into a mobile office. For traditionalists, an AM/FM radio should suffice, but for techies the options should continue to multiply. It is likely that Internet integration will continue as a major trend in 2016 and the potential of these options will continue to expand and excite.
2016 promises to be an exciting year for the automotive industry. We will likely see continued strong sales, more environmentally friendly vehicle sales, and more expansive customization options. Ultimately, the consumer will have the largest influence in shaping the major trends of 2016.