“You’ve probably noticed that Toyota is now featuring hybrid options for their SUVs,” says one Grand Rapids auto industry analyst. “For the time being on the consumer side it’s not exactly a pressing urge to pay more up front for a vehicle that’s going to save you money on gasoline when prices are as low as they are. But brands like Toyota are seeing this as an opportunity to invest in the future of automobiles, and you never really know what’s going to happen with gasoline prices.”
On top of that, there are other key technological features that are making their way into the newest automobiles, and these come in the form of connectivity.
“Everyone wants to buy newer cars and there’s a couple of good reasons for that,” he continued. “Firstly, they’re far more fuel efficient than the older vehicles. Modern cars, even those that aren’t hybrids, get much better fuel efficiency than those that were built ten years ago. On top of that, the newer cars have all kinds of bells and whistles. With most vehicles the infotainment system with a touchscreen comes standard. You can generally have the service upgraded for a WiFi hotspot as well. People are willing to pay for that kind of functionality, and with connectivity set to expand into the future, it opens up the door for GPS powered autonomous driving, which is basically like having your own personal chauffeur.”
“This could also result in a downshift in personally owned automobiles,” he said, “which frightens the auto industry because it’s very uncertain territory. If there are a number of vehicles that are capable of autonomous driving, they’re probably not going to be real big on parking anywhere. Even with park assist, the vehicle would get more info have to recognize vacant spaces and make decisions based on available data. This could mean that the consumer’s relationship to vehicles would operate entirely differently. We could be looking at more cab related services than ever before. The upside for that is that vehicles in constant motion are going to incur more wear and tear. But that shifts the economic inputs from the private sector to the service industry, and nobody's quite sure what that’s going to look like.”
“So what we’re seeing is dramatic disruptions to the automotive industry being ushered in by computers and mobile connectivity. What we’re not certain of is how all these factors will mesh together, and how it will all play itself out, and what the timeline for those changes is going to look like,” he concluded.