What Automotive Trends Will Shoppers See in 2016 Cars?

Ford got an autonomous vehicle driving permit to test the autonomous Fusion Hybrid on California public roads.

Ford has secured a permit to test the autonomous Fusion Hybrid on California public roads.

Auto-show season kicked off in earnest in November with the Los Angeles Auto Show. The show was an excellent harbinger of things to come as we look ahead to the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas and the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in just a few short weeks.

The L.A. show provoked me to pose a question to some expert analysts and automotive journalists as to what trends the car-buying public can expect to see in debuting new cars.

Autonomous Technology
Ed Kim, Vice President, Industry Analysis, at AutoPacific, Inc., says, “We are inching closer and closer to autonomously driven cars, and the big changes for the industry and even society they will usher forth. We are in the midst of a technology rollout that is getting us closer to that happening.”

He said in 2016 we will continue to see semi-autonomous driving technologies proliferating through the industry, with the most advanced executions able to fully handle the task of driving (staying in a lane, maintaining a safe distance from the car ahead, etc.) under very specific circumstances, such as on the freeway up to a certain speed. “Very shortly, we will also see vehicles that can automatically steer to help avoid collisions as well,” he added.

Improved Safety
Jamie Page Deaton, Managing Editor, Autos, U.S. News and World Report, says, “Automakers are already very good at helping people survive crashes, and the most survivable crash is the one that never happens, so car companies are turning their attention to tech that helps prevent collisions.”

She said consumers can expect to see features like adaptive cruise control, collision alerts and mitigation, as well as more widespread blind-spot-warning systems. Even technology as simple as adaptive headlights has been shown to reduce crash risk, and as a result it’s becoming more common, Page Deaton added.

Improved Interiors
Patrick Rall, managing editor of TorqueNews.com, said, “I think that we will see more new models with interior features that were once reserved for the most expensive cars.” He said features like a touchscreen infotainment system, push-button start, hands-free entry, and climate-controlled seats went from being exclusive to the BMWs and Cadillacs of the world to available in cars from value brands like Kia, if not standard equipment. That push to bring luxury interior features will continue through every segment.

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
Karl Brauer, Senior Director, Automotive Industry Insights, Kelley Blue Book, and a columnist for Forbes, said, “I could see these advanced in-car interfaces becoming the ‘it’ technology of 2016. General Motors is already seeing increased consumer engagement and higher sales related to making this technology available in many of its 2016 models. More vehicles will offer it in 2016, and companies that refuse to provide this technology (cough-Toyota-cough) will suffer sales and market-share loss.”

Powertrains and Transmissions
“Engine and transmission technology is developing with more horsepower in smaller packages—practically giving horsepower away. Transmissions will have more gears. I think we will see more 7-, 8-, 9-speed transmissions in all cars to improve drivability as well as fuel economy,” said John Paul, the Boston Globe’s Car Doctor and Senior Manager, Public Affairs for AAA Northeast.

Technology for Parents
Okay, this probably isn’t going to happen, but I had to include this comment from Jamie Page Deaton from U.S. News: “As a parent, however, I wish some car company would invent a cone of silence for backseat passengers. I’d take that over adaptive cruise control any day,” she said.

-Keith Griffin

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