And the key global trends in the automotive industry for 2014 are...
In conjunction with PRIME Research, the top trends were identified as being part of a "smart efficiency cluster" which includes the following elements:
More efficient motoring through downsizing of engines, significant weight reduction, improved aerodynamics and new energy powertrains; particularly plug-in hybrids. “Utilising this efficiency cluster is the challenge for all manufacturers and brands today and in the near future” remarked Dr. Rainer Mathes, Chairman of PRIME Research.
The research also noted that lightweight materials, which were not really a consideration a few years ago, are now starting to move into the spotlight as the second most important aspect driven by interest in the use of materials such as aluminium and even carbon fibre.
Following much hype in recent years, interest in mass market electric vehicles is losing momentum and after two years of being among the Top 3 ranked key trends, EVs now rank as the fifth most important trend, with Plug-in hybrids taking over as the most promising electric drivetrain option. However, the onset of more premium electric vehicles including the BMW i3 and Tesla Model S could bring electric vehicles back into the spotlight.
The World Car jurors also commented on the importance of connectivity, with "Digital cars" ranking as the fourth most important trend, with infotainment and connectivity systems seen as increasingly significant. Giants such as Apple, Google and Microsoft have now joined forces with automotive brands and will be working together over the coming months and years to create the next generation of digital cars.
The full report can be downloaded here www.global-automotive-trends.com.
An interesting although not totally surprising set of findings, with the news that the rise in popularity of plug-in hybrids has eaten into the pure EV share, rather than operating as a growth area on it's own, is particularly symptomatic of the alternative vehicle market and how it is still some way from making a dent in the market share held by more conventionally powered vehicles.