2015 is going to be a great year for automobiles. It’s projected that 16.5 million new cars will find homes this year, which is about 400,000 more cars that the industry sold in 2007, just before the recession. New models, innovations and even brands are cropping up from all over the world. But there are a few major trends to keep an eye on in 2015, ones that will drive the industry for years to come.
This is the year when the bulk of the automotive industry finally, mercifully starts getting its act together, providing infotainment systems that are fully integrated and intuitive. The years leading up to 2015 have been frustrating to a lot of customers, but early 2015 adopters are finding that their infotainment systems are more powerful and easier to navigtate than ever before. UVO from Kia, Sync/MyFordTouch from Ford, MyLink/Intellilink/CUE from General Motors have all undergone significant revisions that are vast improvements over earlier versions. In 2015, consumers are going to start seriously shopping for these features, and avoiding cars that don’t provide them, even — and often especially — at the lowest price levels.
Autonomous cars are the holy grail, not only for the automotive industry, but for consumer electronics companies in general. At last year’s CES show, not only did Audi introduce an autonomous A7, but NVIDIA introduced the Tegra K1 mobile processor, an automotive-grade version of the GPU that powers the world’s 10 most energy-efficient supercomputers, that will make autonomous cars a reality in the mass market.
They’re not here yet in 2015, but the features that allow autonomous cars to operate most certainly are. Intelligent cruise control, lane departure assist, blind spot monitoring and automatic braking if the driver turns into oncoming traffic are all features that are available on 2015 vehicles that, paired together, make autonomous vehicles a forgone conclusion.
An armada of all-new, compact SUVs are scheduled for release in the 2015 model year, on top of the vehicles like the Range Rover Evoque, MINI Countryman and Nissan Juke that have already defined the market. The Chevrolet Trax, Jeep Renegade, Honda HR-V and Mercedes-Benz GLA are all arriving this year.
Ironically, all of these vehicles are about the size that the original Honda CR-V and the Toyota RAV4 were when they defined the marketplace, but as those vehicles got more successful, the also grew to be more competitive with traditional SUVs.
The 1960s and early 1970s are always remembered as a performance benchmark, but performance for 2015 is completely off the charts. And it’s not in the Bugatti Veyron’s $1 million territory, either. For $78,995, the 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 offers an astounding 650hp. The Dodge Charger and Challenger Hellcat trims have been boiling tires all over YouTube with 707hp. We’re in a golden era of automotive performance. Enjoy it.