The automotive industry has undergone another relatively fundamental transformation in recent months and years. The trend is clear electrification and a gradual transition to full electric mobility. However, this is not the only thing that automakers have recently failed to do. What other trends are currently emerging among new cars? We have selected the most interesting ones.
Norway as early as 2025, Great Britain in 2030, and a number of other European states probably sometime between 2030 and 2040. We are talking about a ban on the sale of cars with internal combustion engines, ie those that run purely on petrol and diesel, in more radical cases also conventional hybrids. Plug-in hybrids, which can travel tens of kilometers on electricity alone, and, of course, electric cars, could remain for some time to come. To this must be added that many European cities have not only banned or want to ban the entry into their center of cars with high emissions, but the forthcoming Euro 7 emission standard is even stricter in terms of emission limits than current legislation.
In fact, the carmakers have to adapt to all this, so they are spewing out electrified models, or even plug-in hybrids and clean electric cars. And many of them have already committed themselves to do nothing but electric cars in a few years' time. Jaguar as early as 2025, Ford in Europe, Mini, Volvo, or Bentley in 2030. According to the plans of many brands, there is practically no future where a new car with an internal combustion engine can be bought in the showroom. Even sports brands such as McLaren are planning a purely electric future. So if you are looking for trend number 1 in the current automotive environment, it is electrification, and therefore electromobility.
Hydrogen as the fuel of the future?
But in the end, the future doesn't just mean that cars will be connected to a charger like a mobile phone or a smartwatch. Hydrogen can also be a relatively important source of energy for driving a car. He currently has the advantage that full tanks can be pumped out of the car faster than a full battery. However, the disadvantage is the sparse infrastructure, there is not even a public filling station in the Czech Republic yet, although two should open this year and another this year.
The hydrogen car is, simply put, also an electric car, it only gets its energy from the hydrogen in the tanks. These are significantly lighter than batteries and can also be charged much faster, as already mentioned. By the way, we dealt in detail with the topic of hydrogen propulsion and its operation in the Hyundai Nexo test at the beginning of this year.
Hyundai is one of the carmakers that believes in hydrogen a lot and is also preparing to build the necessary infrastructure. At the same time, Czech customers could buy a Nexo later this year. This Toyota Mirai, another of the pioneers of the fuel cell can no longer dealerships Japanese automakers for at least 1.7 million calmly ordered. BMW or Jaguar also want to deal with hydrogen, Stellantis or Renault want to use it to power commercial vehicles.
And when it comes to the fuels of the future, it is necessary to mention the synthetic ones, which are also sustainable and could save the operation of older cars with internal combustion engines.
Car as a big charger
A power bank for a smartphone or tablet is available everywhere today. However, with the advent of some electric cars, a mobile power bank can also be made from them. At the end of February, Hyundai introduced the Ioniq 5 crossover, which can charge an electric bicycle, a television, or even another electric car with an input of up to 3.6 kW. In addition, it does not have to be connected to the charging stand. There are then two charging points. One is under the rear seats and can only be used when the car is started. The second is outside the place of the classic car charging, and it can be used even when the car is not started. The technically related Kia EV6 has the same function.
But Korean models are not alone. For example, the Chinese Seres SF5, which will be sold in China by Huawei, known primarily for the production of smart electronics, or Honda e.
Car sharing or renting
Whereas in the past, owning a car was practically an indisputable part of its use, today this is no longer the case. And we're not talking about renting a car when you're on vacation. The rental of a car, which thus replaces its ownership, is becoming more and more widespread. In short, you can rent a car for a fixed monthly fee, usually with a limited mileage limit, and you pay nothing more than fuel. There are flexible rentals, where you can return the car, even due to the starting fee paid at the beginning of the rental at virtually any time (ie simply as a model of subscription streaming service Netflix), or operating leases, where you rent a car for a fixed period.
Carsharing, ie car sharing, can also be partially included in this model. There, the model is very simple, you simply rent a car for a certain period of time, pay for it and return it to the designated place again. Car manufacturers are also investing in sharing, establishing special brands for shared mobility (for example, Renault has Mobilize, although in addition to sharing it will include other mobility services, including longer-term rentals), or offer variants of models for carsharing directly adapted. Among the latest innovations, we can name the electric Dacia Spring with specific equipment designed for sharing in cities.
By the way, offering various ways of mobility is one of the trends among car manufacturers today, and many of them are so wedged in the fact that they no longer want to be a car manufacturer, but a provider of mobility.
Last kilometer micro-mobility
The transition from cars to mobility providers is related not only to sharing, but also to micro-mobility, or transport to the last mile. It is not always possible to get to your destination by car. That's why some carmakers have come up with the idea that its owner can carry an electric scooter directly in the trunk of the car. It has a fully charged range of several tens of kilometers and will allow convenient transport within the so-called last mile, or the final section of the road, or to parts of the city where the car is not allowed.
A similar solution is offered, for example, by Seat (its eKickScooter electric scooter is in the picture, and you can find how it rides here ), which, in addition to scooters, also offers electric scooters in some markets. But he is not completely alone in that. Peugeot offers the necessary folding electric bikes and elektrokoloběžky, some time ago offered a classic collapsible scooter into the trunk of a car and Skoda (due to structural defect but was withdrawn from the offer, including units already delivered), which is also in Geneva two years ago showed elektrokolo Klement.
Before the covid-19 pandemic broke out, a car was physically purchased in a showroom, at least in the Czech Republic (online purchase of a vehicle is more common abroad). But when brick-and-mortar stores had to be closed by government decree, dealers had to change their strategy practically from day to day and start discovering distance car sales (we focused more on car sales during the pandemic here and here ). In many cases, such a distance connection with the seller did not directly order the car (unlike the actual online store), but can only result in an offer to buy a car was and is possible only after the opening of showrooms.
For a long time, the American Tesla, for example, has been betting exclusively on online sales (that is, you can actually order a car, such as electronics). The advantage for her is that she sells cars at fixed prices, she does not have at least one other variable in the sales chain called the dealer. After all, Volvo, for example, wants to take the same path in the near future - that is, to sell cars only online and at fixed prices. But other brands are also talking about omitting dealers.
In addition to Tesla, Škoda has also developed online sales of new cars in the Czech Republic, which thus offers cars for operational leasing. As already mentioned, online sales of new cars abroad are more common and sought after than in the Czech Republic.
Digitization. A term that has been used in connection with cars for a long time. A modern car cannot do without a touch screen and, more recently, digital alarm clocks. It's all about the system that the car uses, the screen is then just what allows the owner to actively use the system. Increasingly, the onboard system uses an Internet connection and is always online - the user can download various special applications to the car, or connect the car to a smartphone and control many functions remotely. It is, for example, heating or, on the contrary, air-conditioning the car before departure, and for electric cars also monitoring the battery charge.
And just as your computer's operating system needs to be updated from time to time, so does the in-car system. This is increasingly happening at a distance. Tesla or Volkswagen ID.3 and ID.4 cars can do this, for example, the car is equipped with software that allows you to keep the individual functions up to date during the life cycle, without the need to buy a new car. More and more often, car manufacturers are also adding additional features, which would have required them to buy a brand new vehicle a few years ago. It's a bit like a computer game.
The carmaker simply unlocks certain functions for an additional fee. The models are usually already equipped with sensors and radars due to a number of safety assistants, so extending their range remotely is not such a problem - proves, among other things, the Autopilot from Tesla. But it's not just about safety features, you can also access some comfortable features, for which the car has hardware, but it lacks software. Individual brands, including BMW, also offer monthly rental of some functions, not just their direct purchase.
You probably know that there are five levels of autonomous management, from 1 to 5. The carmakers are heading to the highest level when the vehicle will not even have to have a steering wheel, because computers, radars, cameras, and other electronic equipment can control the car on their own without the need for anyone to pay attention to the road. The driver will be able to read, work or sleep while driving. However, there is still a long way to go - both in terms of technology and in terms of legislation.
The standard today is usually a helper for driving on the highway, which combines adaptive cruise control with lane maintenance. On a clearly marked motorway, the car can move on its own (ie accelerate and decelerate, stay in the chosen lane), provided that the driver has his hands on the steering wheel and is always ready to take over. He is always fully responsible for the car. This is autonomous second-level management.
At the beginning of March, Honda was the first in Japan to sell a car, a luxury Legend sedan, with autonomous third-level steering. This means that in the case of this model, at speeds of up to 50 km / h, it can be driven completely on its own in a traffic jam on expressways - if the system evaluates that it is safe. If this happens, the driver no longer has to watch the traffic in front of him and can, for example, read a newspaper or watch television. However, if the system determines that it is no longer safe to control the car itself, it will alert the driver, who must take over. The main difference compared to the second level is that the moment the car drives itself, the driver is no longer responsible for it, but the manufacturer. Honda Legend with this system will be available in Japan in limited quantities and only for leasing.
This system is authorized for use only in Japan, but this year a new Mercedes-Benz S-Class should get something similar. If he meets a number of conditions, he could drive on some sections in Germany.
Along with electromobility and the transition to fully electric propulsion, more and more carmakers are also committing themselves to make their cars, or the entire production process and supply chain, carbon-neutral. In other words, the carbon emissions emitted by manufacturers can be absorbed from the atmosphere at the same time (they will not actually produce them) - this can be achieved, for example, in factories by using renewable energy sources. By the way, such a Bentley goes even further in this, and in 2030 it wants to have a carbon-positive plant in Crewe, that is, it wants to actively contribute to reducing emissions in the atmosphere.
And who really wants to be carbon neutral? In addition to Bentley, which wants to make it as a whole brand by 2030, for example, Mercedes-Benz, which wants to have a carbon-neutral portfolio before 2039, or Jaguar Land Rover, which also wants to have a neutral model offer in 2039, but also production and supply chain.
The use of sustainable environmentally friendly materials also goes hand in hand with the overall carbon neutrality that carmakers declare one by one in the future. Especially in the concepts, individual manufacturers are competing over who will use the more interesting material. Gradually, however, they also appear in serial models. For example, the Renault Zoe can also be purchased on the Czech market with upholstery made of recycled materials, which is standard from the middle equipment level.
The Škoda Enyaq iV has woven carpets and carpets in the luggage compartment with fibers from recycled PET bottles, in the Lodge version the seats are covered with a fabric made of natural wool and polyester from recycled PET bottles. Many carmakers also use the ecological process of creating leather for the seat covers, and there are also luxury brands that completely give up leather in favor of vegan materials. Sustainability does not only apply to the elements inside but also outside the car.
The classic buttons rang
You have probably noticed that even the smallest cars are equipped with a touch screen today, and the higher the car's equipment, the larger its diagonal. However, the manufacturers are gradually getting rid of the last remnant of the physical buttons that are still in the cars. They are replaced by touch buttons. For example, you will not set the temperature or volume of the audio system in the new Octavia or Golf other than by swiping on the touch bar. The cab of the new Hyundai Tucso n has also switched to completely touch buttons. And the recent trend is also the small touchpads on the steering wheel, which control the functions of the onboard system. They have Mercedes-Benz models, for example.
Quality, not quantity
Jaguar, Renault, or Nissan. All these carmakers have announced in the last year or so that they will no longer be chasing after as many cars as possible. On the contrary, the quality of cars and production efficiency are more important to them - ultimately related to higher overall profits. Due to higher margins, such a Renault also intends to focus more on the C and D segments, where in recent years it has gradually vacated its positions at the expense of smaller cars - although it will sell more of them, there is no such margin on them. For a change, Nissan paid for the former expansion plans, when it wanted to cover many markets, aggressively increased its production capacity, and then failed to fill it. That's why he got into the red, from which the reduction in capacity and the departure from some markets should help him.
By the way, many carmakers also use component sharing across many brands within a single group and even between brands across multiple groups to reduce costs. Proof of the first can be the basis for small cars of the Stellantis group, which are used by Citroën, DS, Opel, or Peugeot, or the modular platforms of the Volkswagen Group, supporting everything from Škoda to Audi. And by the way, VW is also in the second category, because it will share the MEB modular platform for electric cars with Ford. He is definitely not the only one in the automotive industry.
Retro is on course
The last of the selected current trends in the automotive industry is related to the design of vehicles and to some extent also to the current taste, which can change significantly over time. After all, proof of this can be seen in SUVs, which are currently rolling sales, while at the beginning of this millennium it was a rather marginal segment, and sales were dominated by MPVs, which replaced SUVs.
However, back to the look of cars, where one of the trends at the moment is the retro look. The designers openly acknowledge the cars of the past, as is the case with the Peugeot, Suzuki, or, most recently, the Hyundai Ioniq 5, which has elements from the first generation of the Pony model or is directly a modern reincarnation of once successful models. Advertising for such cars includes the Mini, which BMW revived twenty years ago, or the Fiat 500, which has been sold in virtually unchanged form since 2007, and its electric successor is further developing its retro style. In the future, we will see, for example, a modern Renault 5 (pictured) or Lady Niva.