We’re used to paying for TV streaming services, phone plans and music. Now carmakers want to get in on the subscription act. Some have begun offering subscriptions to features already fitted to the car. It could be heated seats, or a driver assist system such as semi-autonomous freeway driving.
As well as giving carmakers an additional revenue stream once the car has left the dealership, it also simplifies production lines by reducing the different permutations of models being manufactured.
Cars are getting harder to crash. Driver assistance features are on the rise, aiming to make driving easier and safer. Assisted steering systems will get smarter, as will auto-braking systems. And expect things such as cross-traffic alert – front and rear – to make it easier to get out of blindside streets or angle car parks. As for fully autonomous vehicles, Tesla would like you to believe they’re here soon. But they’re many (many) years away. The tech is proving challenging, and the reality is you'll still be twirling the wheel for a long time yet.
The rise of China
Chinese brands have taken a while to hit their stride, but in 2021 sales have started to boom. GWM, LDV and MG now make up 6 per cent of sales between them. But the China influence extends beyond the brands themselves. These days Teslas are sourced from China, and BMW's upcoming iX3 is coming from a new factory in China. Many Volvos these days also come from China. We'll also see newcomer brands such as BYD and Polestar bringing in cars from China.
Bigger is better
Electric motors are smaller than petrol engines, which makes it easier to fit them in. It means cars designed from the outset as an EV can better accommodate humans. It also means cars of the future will have hints of Doctor Who’s Tardis: bigger on the inside than they look from the outside.
Utes now make up one in five new vehicle sales, and many believe there's growth left in it. And it’s the large American pickups that are shaping up to step up their presence. Already, locally-converted versions of the Ram 1500 sell in decent numbers, as well as the Chevrolet Silverado and Ford F-150. Electric versions of those three are likely to be on the menu, as are more of them. Toyota is one exploring ways to sell the Tundra in Australia.