driverless car

Photo by Grendelkhan on Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0.

Top 5 Car Trends for 2015 and Beyond

Can’t wait for the future’s promises of flying cars, self-driving vehicles and other awesome innovations? Luckily, technology is changing faster than ever before, making this one of the most interesting times in history to be an auto consumer.

Of course, new technology isn’t the only thing moving the industry forward; a host of other factors also come into play. For instance, increased cultural concern for the environment and a widespread desire to build on the past prompt manufacturers to expand current technologies and supplement them with improvements. The vehicles they create are environmentally conscious, safer and ultimately more fun.

In essence, automakers are working hard to discover what people will want in the coming years. Fortunately for you, this means that the emerging design trends of 2015 are becoming even more accessible. Here are some of the major changes to look for.

Staying Connected on the Go: Car’s Digital Intelligence

While your next car probably won’t be as smart as you are, it’s definitely getting closer. Digital intelligence is a huge emerging trend in the automotive field, and with it come a number of interesting benefits.

Automakers have teamed up with Google, Microsoft, Apple and other firms to make their products better suited to the connected world. Although intelligent media and navigation systems have been in the works for years, they’re now taking on advanced aspects that make it easier for people to track their vehicles, analyze their driving habits and connect with their personal devices safely.

New in-car information and entertainment systems promise to be completely integrated and more intuitive. By learning from the past, designers craft systems that are easy for users to master yet still extremely capable. Their efforts are certain to attract attention too; according to a study on global automotive trends, the world market for Internet-connected vehicles is projected to increase by 60 percent from 2014 to 2017. The same research showed that for the vast majority of industry insiders, connectivity is already a deciding factor in a vehicle purchase.

Everyone’s a Passenger: (Mostly) Autonomous Cars

Google self-driving car. Photo by Don DeBold on Flickr / CC BY 2.0.

Google self-driving car. Photo by Don DeBold on Flickr / CC BY 2.0.

For those who love the open road yet would rather someone else did all the driving, 2015 will undoubtedly be an amazing year. Sure, it will take some time before your car can get you to and from the office without you having to lift a finger, but many of the basic features that will play roles in advanced autonomous systems already exist.

Increasing numbers of automakers are embracing tech like blind spot monitoring, lane change assist technology, automatic braking, self-guided parking and lane departure assist. Intelligent cruise control and other proven features are also set to explode onto the market, and manufacturers are constantly introducing completely new ideas.

Driving enthusiasts who hate urban congestion may be interested to learn that colleges like Temple University and others have even come up with autonomous vehicle programming techniques that could drastically reduce city traffic. By about 2020, you’ll have no excuse for being late to work!

Increased Performance and Efficiency: Why Smaller Is Better

Although the late 1960s and early 1970s are fondly remembered for their performance gains, 2015 will blow previous eras right out of the water. Manufacturers are taking advantage of modern materials science innovations to impart their vehicles with increased stability in tighter packages.

One of the biggest gains in performance comes from the way new engines function. With the implementation of technologies designed to cut emissions and improve fuel consumption, manufacturers have taken to building lighter, better-tuned components. Similar performance concerns led to the adoption of external aerodynamic features and energy-conserving powertrains; you’ll notice such factors are especially common to plug-in hybrids.

The idea that cars are becoming lighter and more efficient isn’t just a vague notion; it’s actually backed up by the numbers. In the six years following 2007, for instance, the average weight of the steel in U.S. light vehicles dropped by almost 20 percent. Things are only likely to improve as people demand more fuel-efficient rides.

The Rise of the Crossovers

The first SUVs that hit the market were much-loved for their rugged appeal, although they had some notable safety and handling concerns. Decades later, SUVs are still going strong, but today’s models are easier to drive and less bulky overall.

SUVs now account for around 11 percent of the total U.S. vehicle market, but the way they’re designed evolves continuously. Crossovers, like the well-established Honda CR-V, are predicted to gain even more traction in 2015, and a whole new array of competing CUVs should be released during the same year.

Car Colors of the Future

Vehicle colors aren’t just a matter of aesthetic preference anymore. Technologies like effect pigments, particle processing and specialty coating systems will improve the environmental protection available to cars and potentially help them last longer.

Of course, such innovations will also present buyers with a completely new rainbow of cosmetic choices. Popular neutral colors, like white, silver, gray and black, are slated to retain their dominance in the world of consumer opinion, although 2015 may give rise to some very appealing red, aubergine and turquoise hues. Industry insiders predict that automakers could even respond to people’s need for personalization by devising new colors and coating methods.

So what might your next new car look like? With all the emerging trends that are steering the auto industry’s future, there’s no doubt that you’ll gain even more control over your vehicle choices. Look forward to a wider range of colors, performance options, digital connectivity setups and control schemes. Whether you prefer driving yourself or letting your smart vehicle handle the dirty work, technology is set to make 2015 much more fun for drivers.

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