5 Car Trends to Watch in 2019
Just like the fashion industry, entertainment, etc. different aspects of car like how they’re designed go through trends. This is how you’re able to look at a vehicle that you might not be familiar with, but can likely identify the era it comes from.
Five trends are shaping how cars from 2019 will be remembered. The reasons for these trends are just as interesting than the trends themselves, if not more so. If you want to know what’s going on in the world of cars this year, read on for that insight.
1. Lots of Glass and Grilles
Some people think more is better. While more green vegetables in your diet no doubt are a good thing, more sugar probably isn’t. Automakers have decided more of two things are beneficial to car owners, so expect more glass and grilles on cars for 2019.
By putting larger expanses of unobstructed glass in a car, automotive designers can make the interior feel more spacious and less closed-in. That means a lowering of beltlines, or the bottom of the windows, which have been creeping up for years in partial response to greater side-impact safety. Don’t worry, though, because engineers have found ways to drop the windows without putting you at risk. This means everyone in a new car enjoys an amazing view of the surroundings. It’s a huge benefit as you’re traveling through scenic territory.
Roof pillars are also shrinking, thanks to the increasing use of high-strength steel in car structures, expanding window sizes further. This also means better visibility for drivers, which is a nice boost for safety.
It’s not just windows which are growing in size. Panoramic sunroofs are available for some of the seemingly most mundane car models, showing the design element has most definitely entered the mainstream. It used to be that only luxury cars could be had with such an amenity, but now you can benefit from glass that stretches from almost the top of the windshield to the back window without blowing your budget.
This means more light streaming through the roof, when you retract the built-in shade, as well as the ability to slide open part of the glass to allow plenty of fresh air to circulate in the cabin. It’s about as close to the experience of owning a convertible as you can get while still owning a hardtop, something Canadian drivers can surely appreciate.
Not everyone is a fan of the more grille trend. Let’s face it: front grilles on cars have become quite expansive. Toyota and Lexus are some of the most obvious offenders in this regard, but they’re hardly alone. Of course, the proliferation of turbocharged powertrains and other efficiency-oriented technologies have made increased airflow to the engine compartment quite necessary, and that’s partly what’s driving this trend. The other factor is fashion, because some people like the aggressive, in-your-face element of a huge grille.
2. Plenty of SUVs and Trucks
Thanks to the persistence of cheap fuel prices, combined with a relatively strong economy throughout 2018, both SUVs and trucks are king in the car market. When you don’t have to take out a short-term loan just to fill up the tank on your ride, getting a larger and less-efficient car seems to be a choice shoppers consistently make.
To be fair, modern technologies have helped boost the efficiency of large SUVs and trucks. Engine innovations like direct injection, turbocharging, cylinders which shut down during cruising, and automatic stop-start systems have made it so automotive behemoths don’t suck down the fuel quite as much as before, but they’re still nowhere nearly as efficient as smaller options.
There’s a psychology to driving larger cars. For one, a big truck or SUV is a statement of financial success, at least in some social circles. Add to that the belief that the larger your vehicle, the less likely you are to be seriously injured or killed in a car crash. All that metal surrounding you acts as a type of security blanket. In addition, the utility factor is big. Some drivers really use all the cargo and towing capacity of their truck or SUV, but others just like the feeling of driving something which can do those things, even though they never tap into that.
Another factor is driving interest in big trucks and SUVs. Canadians are getting bigger. Not only are average heights steadily increasing for both men and women, so are average weights. People don’t fit as comfortably in small cars as before, making larger options more attractive.
Until fuel prices skyrocket or the economy stalls out, this trend will likely continue. Just keep in mind not all trucks and SUVs are monstrous in size. Some of the best-selling SUVs are smaller, like the Toyota RAV4 or the Chevrolet Equinox. The midsize truck market is heating up, which is why Ford has brought the Ranger back to Canada and Nissan is looking to redesign the Frontier.
Car electrification will become even more prevalent in 2019, furthering a trend that started years ago. If you aren’t driving an electrified car, the chances you will in the near future are skyrocketing.
When you start talking about electrification in cars, people often automatically assume you’re referring to pure electric cars. While that certainly is a portion of car electrification, so are hybrids and plug-in hybrids. It’s not so unusual to have at least one electric motor helping to keep the wheels on your ride keep turning.
One of the newest members of the electrification club is the Ram 1500. You can get both the 3.6-litre Pentastar V-6 and the 5.7-litre Hemi V-8 with an eTorque light hybrid system. A 48-volt booster motor provides some much-needed low-end torque, which is ideal for towing or hauling big loads.
You can now get a sedan, minivan, plus both smaller and large SUVs with a plug-in hybrid powertrain. To say the technology has entered the mainstream is an understatement. Not only do drivers enjoy excellent torque, modern hybrids deliver the kind of fuel efficiency diesel engines provided, but without the mess. We all can literally breathe easier with this solution.
Of course, there are some challenges with hybrids and plug-in hybrids. For one, consumers worry about the batteries going out, which is understandable considering their high cost. But, as more people have friends and family who have taken the plunge, they grow more comfortable with the concept. When it comes to plug-ins, the challenge might be that some Canadians don’t have regular access to an electrical outlet or charging station. Efforts by automakers and others aim to change that unfortunate fact, helping to eliminate that barrier for consumers.
Naturally, Tesla is riding the wave of popularity when it comes to purely electric cars in Canada. Thanks to the release of the Model, electric car sales for 2018 in the country were greater than the total for the previous three years, combined. That’s quite the accomplishment, showing that if anything, electric cars aren’t a fad but instead will be a force to be reckoned with for the foreseeable future.
4. AI and IoT
Electrification isn’t the only technology riding a wave of popularity in 2019. Both artificial intelligence and the internet of things will enjoy a growing prevalence in cars this year, benefitting drivers by providing greater conveniences on the go.
A prime example of AI infiltrating cars is through the Echo Auto device. The flat device sits atop your dashboard and plugs into a power outlet. Thanks to eight microphones tuned specifically to hear you over road noise, you can ask Alexa to do all kinds of things like make a phone call, set a reminder for an appointment, stream music, and more without touching any controls. You can even access compatible smart home devices from your car, like if you forgot to turn on the front porch light or want to increase the temperature on thermostat before you get home.
Certain automakers are offering Alexa embedded in the infotainment centre. This means there’s no buying an extra device, making sure it’s plugged into a power outlet, and dealing with cords.
With AI in your car, the hope is that it will allow drivers to shop or engage in other commerce while rolling down the road. For example, you can use Alexa to order a pizza or buy something off Amazon, just like at home. Automakers want to make it even easier, almost automatic, to schedule car service at a dealership.
As for the internet of things, automakers are able to tap a whole new level of technology everyone only dreamed of just a few short years ago. Some cars will help you analyze your driving habits, including when you get fuel and how much, so you can better manage car maintenance. They remind you when an oil change or other essential items are necessary, taking much of the guesswork out of the equation. Some cars even send diagnostic information to the local dealership service centre, where technicians can alert you to a problem early. That in turn means cars will run more reliably, which is something everyone can get excited about.
Through the internet of things, cars provide more smart driving assistance features. Expect more cars that can read lane lines and monitor other cars, plus pedestrians, animals, and more. They will stop to prevent a crash, plus help steer you back into a lane if you drift out.
Through vehicle-to-infrastructure communication, you can find and reserve a parking spot before arriving in an area. That eliminates the need to drive from parking area to parking area, hunting for a spot that’s open, wasting both time and fuel.
There’s also an entertainment upgrade through the internet of things. Newer cars have more cloud-based streaming options to keep you happy during even the longest trips. You have access to a greater variety of content than before, ensuring you don’t burn out listening to the same radio station constantly.
While it might not sound like the most exciting thing, the growing number of partnerships between automakers will absolutely affect the car you’re driving in 2019 and beyond. The cost of developing, engineering, and manufacturing a car is quite high, so it’s understandable why automakers are teaming up to share the load.
One factor which is driving these partnerships is the growing role of technology in cars. Creating cutting-edge infotainment centres, electrified powertrains, advanced safety sensors, keyless entry systems, and so on is expensive and difficult, especially with how quickly technology is shifting in the world. Consumers absolutely demand having the latest and greatest in their cars since they carry around devices with amazing capabilities.
A headline-grabbing example of these partnerships is the collaboration between Toyota and BMW for the new Supra and Z4. The two automotive giants pooled together resources for creating the platform and powertrain for these two iconic sports cars. Just ten or fifteen years ago such a move would have seemed ludicrous, yet today it’s become a more common practice.
Toyota and Subaru developed the 86 coupe and BRZ jointly. BMW and Mercedes-Benz, longtime rivals, recently announced an alliance for creating certain components and car platforms together. Honda has worked with General Motors on numerous development programs.
The implications of this collaboration could be two-fold. One, cars are only going to get more reliable and in some ways uniform. Designs should be simplified, so you’re not hunting high and low for certain controls just because you normally drive a different brand.
On the flip side, the electronics will feature a more distinct branding experience. When you start up a car from one brand, the infotainment screen will have some graphics and sounds that you won’t see or hear when using a car from a different brand. The warning sounds for driver assistance systems will also likely stay unique to each brand, even if everything else about those systems are shared with other automakers.