2016 is predicted to be a huge year for technological progress. The car is increasingly becoming much more than a tool to get people to the shops and back. As the latest multimedia systems allow for emails to be read and sent, hands-free calls to be made and electric cars being used to power home electronics, car technology is evolving faster than ever and 2016 will be no exception. These are the top ten car trends for 2016.
Electric cars aren’t new, but experts predict they’ll continue to rise in popularity as sales of electric vehicles were reported to have increased by 65% in 2015 compared with 2014. With the prospect of heavier taxes on emissions, a growing network of charge points for electric cars and the technology becoming less costly, we can expect to see (although not necessarily hear these silent motors) more and more electric cars on our roads in the future.
It’s common knowledge that Apple is developing an electric vehicle. Ford plans to launch 13 electric vehicles by 2020 and even Aston Martin has invested heavily on making a model to rival Tesla. Also expect to see Jaguar’s first electric car in some form. Jaguar recently announced that it is to return to racing after a decade-long break and will enter the Formula E electric, city-centre racing series. It is simultaneously working on a range of electric vehicles that will carry both Jaguar and Land Rover badges with production starting as soon as 2017, around about the same time as the new electric Audi and 18 months or so before the Porsche. BMW meanwhile is expected to announce another all-electric car this coming year, the i5. One day (and it really won’t be long now) electric cars will be the only cars you will see in central London, Paris, Milan…everywhere.
Hybrids – the best of both worlds
Hybrid cars are becoming much more popular and commonplace these days, and there’s now a hybrid to suit every need – from family hatchbacks to luxury saloons and everything in between – as almost every manufacturer strives to develop greener models powered by a combination of electric motors and a diesel or petrol engine. Models include the BMW i3, the Mitsubishi Outlander PHE SUV and the VW Golf GTE (which is marketed as a performance hybrid). Lexus, Audi and Toyota are also all competing in this crowded marketplace.
Prepare for Apple and Google to invade your car
Available in selected cars such as Audi, VW, Land Rover, Jaguar, Renault and BMW to name a few, Apple’s Car Play takes the things you want to do with your iPhone and puts them on your car’s built-in display. Get directions, make calls, send and receive messages and listen to music while still allowing you to remain focussed on the road. Just plug in your iPhone and go! However, Apple isn’t the only one working on smartphone integration – Google’s android-based system – Open Automotive Alliance (OAA) has recently also been launched. It’s taken a long time for both tech giants to get their in-car iOS and Android systems up and running, but 2016 will be the year you can finally plug in your smartphone and become truly mobile.
Sharing is Caring!
Car sharing is back on the agenda. More and more people are relying on services such as Uber (where you get a taxi, private car or rideshare from your mobile phone app) or London-based Go-Drive, rather than buying cars outright. Research by Ford suggests that in the U.K. alone the car-sharing sector will grow by 23 per cent from 2013 to 2025, with many of these services relying on all-electric vehicles making getting around a much greener, cleaner process.
Vehicles that will talk to each other?
Volvo, BMW and Mercedes-Benz are all currently trialling systems that see cars interact with one another and their surroundings via NFC chips and built-in SIM cards, with many unleashing ‘talkative’ models early next year. The idea is that the next-generation car will be able to see obstructions and potential hazards way before any human can. For example, if a car is broken down on a hazardous bend, it can send out a distress signal to a central server, which then warns other cars in the vicinity. The system, has been dubbed Car-to-X communications system.
Look! No hands!
Automated driving features such as radar-based cruise control to keep up with stop/start traffic with little input from the driver, are becoming more common but be prepared for more to come. Jaguar Land Rover has announced a £11 million investment into autonomous driving and Mercedes’ new E-Class could pave the way for hands-free driving on the motorway, proving that technology-based driving is safer than the human factor. It features the new Car-to-X communications system, radar and sensor systems to keep the car in lane and out of danger, however drivers still have to keep their hands on the wheel for now, but perhaps not for too long.
Hand over parking duties to a robot
BMW and Mercedes could provide the solution to those tricky parking situations, damaged alloy wheels and dented egos. The technology that finds you a parking space and then uses sensors and cameras to correctly parallel and reverse steer into the space is already out there with many premium brands already featuring these systems. However these two giants have developed smartphone-based technology to produce perfect parking results. BMW’s Remote Control Parking is already on the 7 Series and sees the car autonomously reverse into and pull out of spaces, while Mercedes’ Remote Parking Pilot will appear on the new E-Class (due out late 2016/early 2017) and does a similar thing but also incorporates vertical parking.
Smart headlight tech to light up the road ahead
Not only will ultra-bright LEDs see the end of bulb replacement as we know it, harnessing the power of these little lights will mean the road ahead will be well and truly lit up. Better still though is that headlight technology is getting incredibly clever. Audi has used laser technology in certain models and automatic high-beam assistance in many other premium brands means optimum illumination without dazzling oncoming drivers. And pushing the headlight technology boundaries in 2016 is Volvo, which has developed ‘bending’ headlights that automatically adjusts the beams in response to steering to provide better road illumination.
Gesture control replaces dials
Could we do away with dials and touch entirely and instead rely on swipes and gestures to control in car functionality? BMW has introduced the world to gesture control with it’s new 7 Series model. The technology allows the cars occupants use hand gestures to control its entertainment system and heating, and even send commands to their smart home kit remotely. The idea is to let the owners have a more relaxed experienced when the vehicle is in self-drive mode. Its infrared camera mounted in the rear-view mirror picks up hand gestures and control certain infotainment functions.
Cars will control the connected home
The car is set to integrate with the home much more as on-board technology is used to control elements such as heating and alarm systems. Tyre giant Continental doesn’t just make tyres. It has developed a system and software that allows you to plug into a plethora of connected devices in the home. For example, the car can turn on your smart central heating system when you’re half a mile away or the garage door can magically open as you approach. Better still, the on-board video on demand service has been designed for the upcoming days of autonomous driving. So, if you don’t quite finish that episode of your favourite show on your way home from work, you can swipe it over to your smart TV at home and carry on watching.