Top 5 Auto Industry Trends
The auto industry is changing. As technology continues to evolve, so do the trends that emerge from manufacturers. And while it's not clear how cars will change in the coming years (autonomous cars, anyone?), the consensus is: technology continues to transform our idea of cars. Ultimately, for the better! Here are our top picks for the most influential auto industry trends of 2016.
Mobile continues to dominate the way users search for information, with many drivers using their smartphone and tablets to research which vehicles to purchase. A 2015 J.D. Power study found that 51% of new vehicle buyers use a mobile device to help them find the best price for their car. Translated? Fewer buyers visiting dealerships in person, more people using good old Google, with the average number of visits down to 1.5 from 5 a decade ago. In addition, the myriad of new apps available on iPhone and Android have proven to be an essential tool for buyers looking to research and compare prices of different models. They also help to simplify the car buying process by providing all the relevant information at users’ fingertips.
The safety features in vehicles are constantly being improved upon by manufacturers. Each year, new adjustments are made to cars’ safety systems, including blind spot warning programs and adaptive cruise control. In addition, the increase of mobile usage presents a modern challenge to car makers, who have to deal with a higher rate of distracted driving, which, by the way, has doubled since 2000, making them a leading cause of death on the road. Thus, a large focus of car safety has been on reducing the rate of distracted driving, and encouraging responsible use of new car features.
While car buying trends suggest that millennials are avoidant when it comes to purchasing new cars (high student loans, a stagnant economy, and a rise of rideshare options), studies show that they are simply delaying the decision to buy a car. Millennials were the second highest buying group in 2015 behind baby boomers. The car industry’s particular challenge with this population is to leverage its heavy reliance on mobile devices, social media, and the internet, in making purchasing decisions.
With technology constantly evolving, car features have become increasingly complex, including their in-vehicle entertainment systems. These range from smartphone connectivity, to dashboard applications, to high-tech audio and navigation systems that take the guesswork out of driving. A big trend 2016/2017? Digital screens.
Gone are the days of bulky, slow-moving vehicles. In their place are increasingly light cars that seem to glide along the highway. Lighter weight, coupled with higher fuel-efficiency, means that new models are causing less of an impact on the environment. Automakers are playing with new materials, including aluminum, magnesium, carbon fiber, compressed wood, and stronger steels, which are often recyclable, which helps us all sleep better at night.