Automotive industry

The automotive industry: the road to everywhere

The automotive industry: the road to everywhere

While we’re still in the race for tech and range, what’s old is new and what’s mine is yours when it comes to next year’s automotive trends.

By BF Staff
Excerpt from the November/December 2021 issue

VVarious trends are impacting the future of the ever-changing automotive industry. These trends for 2022 range from design to delivery and operation, and run the gamut from old to new.

Automakers are competing to produce vehicles packed with digital technology. It seems that the more technology the better, especially when it comes to zero-emission electric vehicles (EVs). And digital extends beyond the car itself and into the sale itself. Consumers now have the ability to choose and purchase their vehicles online, selecting features and financing. More and more dealerships are offering online shoppers virtual tour technology, at-home test drives and home delivery. And whether that’s because they’re cheaper or easier to find, another trend is buying used vehicles, including electric and hybrid models.

Shared transportation, or shared mobility, is also growing in popularity, allowing transportation as needed. This mobility-as-a-service business model allows travelers to share a vehicle either simultaneously as a group (e.g. carpooling) or over time (e.g. carsharing) as a personal rental, and in the process share the cost of the trip, creating a hybrid between the use of the private vehicle and public or public transport. Car subscriptions are also gaining ground for those who want to avoid commitment. A car subscription service is similar to a lease only in the sense that there is no personal ownership, but has shorter, more flexible terms with insurance and maintenance costs included. The research is still ongoing, but 2022 could also be the year fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) are adopted. Fueled by pure hydrogen stored in a tank similar to conventional internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles, they can refuel in less than four minutes and have a range of over 300 miles. In addition, they produce no exhaust emissions, emitting only water vapor and hot air.

Truck bunching is another rising trend for 2022. This linking of two or more trucks in a convoy uses connectivity technology and automated driver assistance systems. These vehicles automatically maintain a fixed, close distance between them when connected for certain parts of a trip. Bundling trucks reduces fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. Since trucks can drive closer to each other, air drag friction is significantly reduced.

Other trends include self-driving vehicles and the expansion of the electric vehicle market, with many companies proposing to switch to manufacturing electric vehicles only by a specific year. Electric vehicle sales are expected to overtake ICE vehicle sales by 2030.