The Automotive Industry: The Road To Everywhere

While we are still deep in the drive toward technical and autonomous, what’s old is new and what’s mine is yours when it comes to next year’s auto trends.

By the BF Staff
From the November/December 2021 Issue

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

Automakers are in competition to produce vehicles full of digital technology. It seems the more tech the better, especially regarding zero-emission electric vehicles (EVs). And, digital extends beyond the car itself and into the actual sale. Consumers now have the option to pick and purchase their vehicles online, selecting features and financing. More and more dealerships are offering online buyers virtual walk-around technology, at-home test drives and home delivery. And whether it’s because they are less expensive or easier to find, another trend is one toward purchasing pre-owned vehicles, including electric and hybrid models.

Shared transport, or shared mobility is also growing in popularity, allowing for as-needed transportation. This mobility-as-a-service business model has travelers share a vehicle either simultaneously as a group (e.g., ride-sharing), or over time (e.g., carsharing) as a personal rental, and in the process share the cost of the journey, creating a hybrid between private vehicle use and mass or public transport. Car subscriptions are also gaining traction for those who want to steer clear of commitment. A car subscription service is similar to a lease only in the sense that there’s no personal ownership, but has shorter, more flexible terms with insurance and maintenance costs included. Research is still underway, but 2022 may also be the year of embracing fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs). Fueled with pure hydrogen gas stored in a tank similar to conventional internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles, they can fuel in less than four minutes and have a driving range of over 300 miles. In addition, they produce no tailpipe emissions—emitting only water vapor and warm air.

Truck platooning is another trend on the rise for 2022. This linking of two or more trucks in convoy uses connectivity technology and automated driving support systems. These vehicles automatically maintain a set, close distance between each other when they are connected for certain parts of a journey. Truck platooning lowers fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. Given that trucks can drive closer together, the air-drag friction is reduced significantly.

Other trends include autonomous self-driving vehicles and EV market expansion, with many companies proposing to transition to making only EVs by a specific year. EV sales are expected to surpass ICE vehicle sales by 2030.