At a press conference hosted by the World Car Awards (WCA) at the New York International Auto Show today, an expert panel comprising 69 of the world’s top automotive journalists weighed in on today’s top global trends in the automotive industry.
The key findings of a scientific study conducted by PRIME Research are:
Market Trends – Efficiency, lightweight materials, design, connectivity and new energy cars are the most important media trends of 2014. These trends form part of a bigger picture within the automotive industry, which PRIME Research have identified as the “smart efficiency cluster”.
This “efficiency cluster” is driven by the downsizing of engines, significant weight reduction, improved aerodynamics and new energy powertrains; particularly plug-in hybrids. “Utilising this efficiency cluster is the challenge for all manufacturers and brands today and in the near future” remarked Dr. Rainer Mathes, Chairman of PRIME Research, which conducted the study in conjunction with the World Car Awards.
Mathes also noted that lightweight materials were under the radar two years ago, yet in 2014 moved into the spotlight as the second most important aspect driven by interest in engine downsizing and the use of aluminium. The Ford F150 and BMW i3 have helped in bringing materials such as aluminium and carbon fibre to the mass market as affordable solutions for weight-saving.
Following the media hype in 2012, electric vehicles are losing momentum. After two years of being among the Top 3, EVs now rank as the fifth most important trend – a reality check for the industry.
Plug-in hybrids are seen as the most promising electric drivetrain option moving forward, but the onset of premium electric vehicles – driven by the BMW i3 and Tesla Model S – bring electric vehicles back into the spotlight. Stories written about these two models accounts for over 40% of all media coverage on electric vehicles. They have the ability to become game changers.
The World Car jurors also voiced strong opinions on connectivity; which is already a key factor in evaluating a car. Digital cars rank as the fourth most important trend, with infotainment and connectivity systems seen as increasingly significant. Tech giants Apple, Google and Microsoft have now joined the game: teaming up with automotive brands to create the next generation of digital cars.