Trends in automobiles
November 18, 2013
Until now, performance and comfort have been the two key drivers
in the automotive market. But today a multimodal, tech-dependent
way of life is changing the way people “consume” cars, and
automobile brands are responding with a surge of inventiveness and
creativity. Designed technology will soon surpass performance and
comfort to become the true driver in this category.
Today’s automotive technology is being developed jointly with
software and application designers, smartphone manufacturers, and
Internet companies. Carmakers and their partners are focusing on
multimodal lifestyles, usage, functionality, and alternate
transportation solutions. There’s an exciting ride ahead as auto
brands get a new field to play in and new friends to play with.
Tech-charged cars for hyperliving
Citroën’s C4 Cactus illustrates the focus on creating the ideal
driving experience, characterized by multitasking and overlapping
activities. Way beyond gadgetization, the Cactus is both playful
and convenient, with a touchscreen on the dashboard controlling
music, GPS, air-conditioning, and more.
Futuristic? Not really. Web 3.0 (meaning Internet-connected) and
self-driving cars were at the heart of this year’s Frankfurt Auto
Show, and present strong advantages in the arenas of safety,
environmental friendliness, and productive use of “downtime” behind
the wheel—traditional challenges for the automotive sector. A
driver stuck in traffic can now place a Skype call, make travel
reservations, or work on a spreadsheet rather than fuming at
Green and performance: Friends again
Car manufacturers have accepted and embraced green technology,
as proven by the launch of cars such as the BMW i series and
Toyota’s RAV4 EV green SUV. Automotive leaders seem to be managing
the electric revolution step-by-step, waiting for both the market
and technology to mature enough to justify costs. The reason is
simple: Brands have determined that what consumers most desire in
green cars is breathtaking tech- or design-driven performance, and
performance development takes time.
Alternatives to ownership
Car ownership is no longer the only viable way to get around.
The occasional driver—likely to be urban and agile—fuels
alternative mobility solutions. Automotive brands are now expanding
into the territory of car rental, either by developing their own
renting options (Mu by Peugeot) or by connecting car owners with
those in need of transport (Multicity by Citroën), allowing users
to switch seamlessly between modes of transportation.