Automotive 2019: Looking Back to Move Forward

Automobility LA sign for automotive 2019AutomobilityLA 2018 left us with a vision of where automotive 2019 is going — more in-vehicle experiences. Getting from Point A to Point B in unique, cool and riveting ways will always be key to what drives (no pun intended) car show previews, but instead of wowing attendees with last year’s spectacles — VR exhibits featuring upcoming film premieres, DJ’s spinning tunes so loud it felt like a death metal concert, customized truffles — measured and focused “User Experience” and “User Engagement” presentations ruled the conference.

It got us thinking how the days of luxury that defined such brands as Lincoln, Cadillac, Bentley, and Rolls Royce have grown beyond the real wood dashboard and gold-plated tuning knobs. Accessible indulgence makes the entire experience feel like today’s driver is being taken into consideration with car production in a wholly immersive way.

We’re not ones to usually opine here — our goal at is to present you “Just the facts, ma’am.” In our new year’s article, however, we decided you might like to know what we feel automotive 2019 holds based on what we experienced at AutomobilityLA 2018.

Road Tripping for Automotive 2019

Road trip collage for automotive 2019Yes, we know. Road trips have been around since there were, well, roads, but they haven’t always been in vogue for a variety of reasons — gas prices, slow economies, fascination with the friendly skies, etc. Over the last few years, however, we’ve noticed a great deal of emphasis placed on the revival of the Airstream Trailer, glamping, and turning the proverbial road trip into something that more people are willing to do even — and sometimes especially — if they only have a few days.

All of this is very appealing to Millennials and Generation Zers, consumers of choice for carmakers, especially with the drop in auto ownership across those two markets. There was so much shown at the conference that supported this continuing trend — Airstream given its own display, the new Prius presented as an AWD road tripping marvel — that we believe it’s a market that will only become more important for automotive 2019 and beyond.

Driving the “give-back”

charity and the auto industry into automotive 2019Considering the event took place in California within weeks of two of the worst brush fires in the state’s history, a proliferation of “we are here to support you” signs sprinkled throughout AutomobilityLA was not surprising. What was interesting, however, was how front and center many of the automakers made their commitment to overall charitable giving.

From the large Toyota Para-Olympics presence with its supporting vehicle to Subaru making your first experience with its exhibit their ASPCA and community involvement — which heavily plays on Subaru’s “LOVE” campaign — the desire to proclaim the stance of doing good was consistently driven home wherever you looked. While we can’t say for sure such overt motor vehicle-based philanthropy will continue into the automotive 2019 space, we believe it is a trend that will build moving forward.

Auto & Tech: Reaching Across the Innovation Aisle

automotive and tech partners into automotive 2019From day one of the conference, it became apparent that reaching across the innovation aisle is key to surviving automotive 2019. There’s still that level of mistrust for a variety of digital and technological advancements being pushed for vehicles. The general public seems to like how it all sounds, but actually owning/driving behind/being a passenger in a driverless vehicle? Not so much. How do you get people behind it when they still can’t equate someone like a Ford or Kia with lasers and artificial intelligence?

Partnerships are the basis of what’s to come as we move toward seeing actual, living Level 5 — fully self-driving, no human operator or even controls required — autonomous cars out there. Not testers, but ones that are driven by someone other than a Waymo or Uber employee. Tech companies still need help getting into the vehicle industry, and automobile professionals need help remaining relevant in the changing motor vehicle landscape. Automotive 2019 will show more of these matchups moving forward.

One classic goes while others thrive

retro styles come into automotive 2019In 2018 Volkswagen announced it would no longer manufacture its iconic Beetle by July of 2019. While that memorable car may be going, VW is bringing the wildly popular Bus into the 21st century and other automakers continue to embrace their past by offering upgraded versions of retro models for the automotive 2019 landscape — a 2019 Ford Mustang Bullitt, anyone?

Retro love for Mustang into Automotive 2019

Photo Taken By Joe Ross from Lansing, Michigan – 2019 Ford Mustang “Bullitt” display — 2018 North American International Auto Show, Wikimedia Commons

The desire to return to and remain in the past with design and style just seems to be growing. With Porsche, that also means allowing its serious drivers to maintain control of their car — the German automaker will not pursue Level 5 autonomy. Sure, they’ll have some form of driver assist available, but they will never have a fully-autonomous 911. However, while Porsche has taken this stance it’s not to say like-style automakers are. That’s something we’re watching closely as automotive 2019 moves forward — that intersection between nostalgia and innovation.

Regardless, zero emissions and sedans still exist

sedans and zero emissions still the thing automotive 2019Contrary to what one of the world’s largest automakers announced days before the conference, exhibitors proved sedans and zero-emission models — with a proud add that many would still be made in America — were NOT a thing of the past. Seems the rest of the auto industry took the pre-show announcement as a call to action. Sure, there were tons of SUVs and a bunch of unique cars that looked nothing like the sedans of yesteryear, but plenty of 4-door and/or eco-friendly models were on display as well. For example, the unveiling of the Rivian all-electric duo of the R1T — a truck that holds 5 passengers — and the R1S — an SUV that ferries 7 and goes from 0 to 60 in 03 seconds was met with open mouth awe.

So, are sedans and green vehicles dead? Um, no. If anything, suppliers are reviving and innovating them to the point that everyday humans like you and I will be able to afford and want to buy them sooner rather than later.

Going beyond “self-driving”

U/X into automotive 2019User Experience, you win the “Most Likely to Succeed” of the world of automotive 2019. It’s all about turning your drive into something that goes beyond autonomy and all the way into enjoyment. How can you remind people of what it’s like to engage with their vehicle? Love the experience of, if not driving it then being in it? And how can you use your car for more than transportation?

Volvo blew us away by having no vehicles for preview at their exhibition. They actually had a sign that read, “Don’t Buy Our Cars” and walked attendees through the experiences you would gain through its partnerships and innovation. From Amazon deliveries made to your trunk to Luminar visibility to VR inside your car, Volvo — and others — was all about “you” — the driver, rider, the pedestrian walking or cyclist cycling beside the car and it’s obvious this engagement will only grow.

Innovation and individuality are alive and well

Innovation and individuality into automotive 2019Finally, the cool, the custom, the “think outside the box” were all on display. Cars have always been great canvases for personalization and it’s grown with technology. Extraordinarily beautiful vehicles that seemed impossible were touted — the Infinity Prototype 10 sort of freaked us out, but in a good way — as were all the options for turning your automobile of choice literally into the stuff of dreams.

Concept cars will always rear their headlights but what we’re loving is this immersive mentality of personalizing your piece of the road in a way that truly reflects you. And it goes far beyond just how your car looks and into how you choose to engage with that vehicle.

You can change your automobile as often as you change your clothes through service providers of car sharing, high-end vehicle subscriptions, and ride-hailing as well as unique ways to buy cars through smartphone apps. That innovation-driven individuality is, once again, appealing to Millennials and Generation Z. Automotive 2019 is poised for an opportunity like these to be more available and reinventing an industry that’s closing in on a century and a half old.

Goodbye, 2018. Hello, Automotive 2019

Volvo display Amazon highlight article conclusion automotive 2019Car ownership isn’t going away. Or, better yet, automobiles transporting people around on a personal level isn’t. As much as it seems like unique alternatives to what was once considered a rite of passage are taking over the automotive world, even they confirm that people still love motoring around. If AutomobilityLA and the last year have taught us anything, it’s that the motor vehicle isn’t disappearing. It’s growing up and leaving home to make its own way in the world.

And that, to us, is what automotive 2019 holds in our opinion — a lot of roads previously traveled but in more innovative ways. Sort of like a kid following in their parents’ footsteps but with their own POV. And isn’t that what the industry has always done? Take the old and make it not just new but beyond belief?

We think so and we look forward to more.

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Green Vehicle Initiatives: Creating a More Eco-Friendly World

Automobiles account for over 27 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions (GHG). What kind of green vehicle initiatives are federal, state, local and global leaders presenting to address this world-changing issue?

relationship of green vehicle to the environment

sketch of eco-friendly solutions

When President Obama took to U.S. streets in 2010 to promote eco-friendly solutions to the climate issues facing the nation, he shared his goal of having 1 million plug-in hybrids on highways by 2015. Due to lower than anticipated fuel prices, only ¼ of the objective has been met. However, more green vehicle initiatives are being proposed and implemented around the world as well as more fuel efficient models being introduced.

What exactly is a green vehicle?

lowering the carbon footprint with green vehicle initiatives

creating a smaller carbon footprint with environmentally responsible cars

A green vehicle is any mode of transportation – automobile, truck, train, etc. – that emits low to no carbon dioxide. Replacing cars that burn fossil fuels with those that run on clean energy positively impacts the environment.

Here are 7 common acronyms and the type of “green vehicle” they describe:

  • ZEV (Zero Emissions Vehicle): The power source doesn’t produce pollutants emitted from the tailpipe.
  • ULEV (Ultra Low Emission Vehicle): Extremely small amounts of harmful gases are emitted.
  • PZEV (Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle): These meet the U.S. federal Super Ultra Low Emission Vehicle standards (SULEV), have zero evaporative emissions from its fuel system and a 15 year/150,000 mile warranty on their emission control components.
  • PHEV (Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle): Just as in conventional hybrids, this combines a gas or diesel engine with an electric motor. However, these vehicles feature a large plug-in battery rechargeable from an outlet.
  • ER-EV (Extended Range Electric Vehicle): Includes an electric motor, a plug-in battery pack and an internal combustion engine (ICE), just like the PHEV. The unique feature is that the electric motor always powers the wheels while the ICE acts as a generator to recharge the battery when needed.
  • EV (electric vehicle): The overarching identifier for all vehicles that either run partially or completely on electricity.
  • BEV (battery electric vehicle): Runs off of the chemical energy that is stored in rechargeable battery packs – all electric, no ICE.

Governments all over the world are promoting more ecologically-friendly transport, whether privately owned or in municipal fleets. Unfortunately, green vehicles tend to be expensive and have certain performance issues that make it difficult for many consumers to embrace. These hurdles are leading to some intriguing ways decision makers are introducing more eco-friendly transportation onto the road.

Attracting more eco-friendly automobile ownership

Governments encourage green vehicle ownership by offering various incentives to the public, not the least of which is financial. Some propose subsidies – actual cash in your pocket – while others give tax credits. These programs are gaining global traction in spite of requirements, deadlines or the red-tape invariably involved.

Cash may be a great motivator, but it doesn’t guarantee EV growth. The International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) conducted a global comparison on fiscal incentives in 2014. They discovered that while the U.S. and UK offer rather substantial rewards for purchasing a green car, they have a fairly low rate of return compared to other countries offering less. It’s clear that there are far more factors at work and ICCT hopes to dig deeper to better understand what drives (pun definitely intended) eco-conscious automobile sales.

Local lawmakers understand the need to diversify rewards for green vehicle purchases. At least 37 states and the District of Columbia offer a variety of incentives. While financial incentives are among them, compensation also includes high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lane access, emissions test exemptions, parking incentives and utility rate reductions.

Probably one of the most far-reaching incentive programs for green vehicle adoption is EV Everywhere. The plan is part of several Clean Energy Grand Challenges launched by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and announced by President Obama in March 2012. Its purpose is to make EVs as comparable in price and convenience as gas models by 2022, thereby prompting more Americans to embrace and purchase them.

However, these incentives and the adoption of the green vehicles aren’t limited to private citizens and their cars.

Translating “clean air” to fleet vehicles

The EPA created the Clean Diesel Program to offer Diesel Emissions Reduction Act of 2016 (DERA) funding for qualifying fleet vehicles. This encompasses rebates and grants for such things as school buses, and construction and agriculture transport that have retrofitted or replaced their conventional diesel engines with those that burn cleaner fuel.

DERA was included in the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which outlined tax incentives and loan guarantees for various types of energy production. One of these is clean diesel. In June, the 2016 DERA was reauthorized and extended to 2021, which allows the immense benefits already gained from the grants and rebates already rewarded to continue. The EPA shared a report in March that listed the final results of grants funded in fiscal years 2009-2011 and estimates for 2011-2013. These include the reduction of over 4 million tons of carbon dioxide, 312,500 tons of nitrogen oxides, and 58,700 tons of carbon monoxide, to name a few. In addition, 431 million gallons of fuel have been saved and up to 1,700 premature deaths were prevented.

But municipalities are embracing more than just biodiesel and innovative technologies to turn their fleet engines green. Electric battery buses have been successfully introduced into the public transportation systems of 19 countries and 66 nations offer electric trolleys. The implementation of these green vehicles is a collaboration between local, state and federal governments as well as the private sector.

The legacy and future of “going green”

As more auto legislation and general regulations are introduced that impact the environment, new innovations will continue to be unveiled with the purpose of saving the planet. A clean, emissions-free planet may not happen tomorrow, but with all of the green vehicle and alternative fuel options currently being researched and implemented, we’re getting closer every day.

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