As the year draws to a close, it’s time to examine how the auto industry has changed over the course of 2017. There have been a lot of innovations, surprises, and progress throughout the year. The foundations are in place for an even more exciting 2018. We’ll take a look at some of the top trends of the last 12 months, and whether they matched up with our expectations from the start of the year.
Electric Vehicles Became More Popular
This won’t come as much of a surprise to many, but electric cars have definitely become more popular. Interest in the industry is ever-increasing, and as we predicted at the start of the year, more and more manufacturers are getting on to the bandwagon. Well-known brands such as Jaguar, Volkswagen, and Hyundai all announced new models arriving in 2018. Some of the notable developments this year also include:
Tesla – The Model 3 finally hit production in 2017. As a result, it’s made owning an electric car a far more exciting prospect. Although the company announced they were behind their production schedule in October, it seems like things are finally getting up to speed. The company also unveiled plans for a lightning-quick roadster and semi-truck.
Nissan Leaf – One of the original electric vehicles is getting an upgrade. The much-loved Nissan Leaf will see a new and improved model in 2018. It looks great and has a range of impressive specs and features.
Chevy Bolt – We really hoped the Bolt would deliver on all the promise it showed late last year, and we’re delighted that it did. Sales and reviews have been high, and the car has helped bring the electric vehicle to the average consumer.
At the beginning of 2017 we expected to see more innovative technologies announced. And we weren’t wrong. New announcements have come thick and fast this year, with companies and manufactures seemingly set on outdoing each other. We finally saw more progress on two technologies that have shown promise before; Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. So far this year around 30 manufacturers have signed on to support Apple CarPlay and more than 50 are backing Android Auto. This is good news for technology fans as it means these promising systems will finally start getting some traction.
Over the coming months we expect to see more updates and developments in these systems, with more apps and greater usability coming. Already, many of the most popular apps on both platforms have made it onto Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, with more to undoubtedly follow. Finally we’re getting the integration we’ve wanted to see for a while.
Classics Return (Sort of)
We expected to see two big manufacturers unveil new models of classics they no longer make. And they did, sort of. We’d hoped to see more details about the Land Rover Defender; however, the company announced we wouldn’t be seeing anything concrete until their 70th anniversary celebrations, at the end of next year. However, at least we know we’ll be seeing the actual vehicle arrive on roads in 2019.
Another exciting return is that of the Ford Bronco. We hoped that Ford would confirm rumors it was returning, and they did. The classic sports utility vehicle hasn’t been produced since 1996, but will return in 2020. Ford seems to be determined to make a good job of it too, promising that it will embody everything that made the original Broncos such enjoyable cars to drive. The company also announced the return of the popular Raptor truck, arriving back in North America in 2019.
Augmented Reality Check
One thing we were disappointed not to see was any big announcements surrounding augmented reality in cars. As the move towards driving automation continues, we were hoping that there would be more news on the development for AR in vehicles. Smartphone apps are leading the way in this technology, but there is clearly huge potential for it to be implemented in vehicles of all types.
There are opportunities to incorporate AR technology for navigation and route guidance, in-car entertainment, as well as social or inter-car networking. Although 2017 didn’t see much in the way of AR news for cars, we remain optimistic that 2018 will deliver on this front.
The Rise of Autonomy
There can be little doubt that as time goes by, cars and the general driving experience will become increasingly automated. Self-driving car projects are being announced and discussed constantly. Many new cars have technologies that aid the driver in some way or another. Next year’s new Nissan Leaf will feature a ProPilot system, which takes over the steering, braking, and stopping of the vehicle according to surrounding traffic. It can also parallel park and can be driven using just one pedal. These kinds of systems will be commonplace in the years to come, and as expected we’ve seen more of these in 2017.
One slight disappointment is that two major companies have scaled back their self-driving car projects this year. This is one thing we couldn’t have predicted. Both Apple and Volvo have decreased the scope of their projects. It was rumored that Apple was developing their own self-driving cars, however it appears this may no longer be the case. Volvo had announced it was going to trial 100 self-driving cars in 2017; however both the date and scale of the trial have apparently slipped. Instead it will be 2021 before we see the project come to fruition.Overall it’s been another incredibly interesting year for the automotive industry. New technology is constantly at the forefront, and it’s clear that the way we drive is going to drastically change over the coming years. There are enough exciting announcements to look forward to over 2018 and into 2019. We fully expect to see more innovation over the coming months.