Plans about the future keep on coming left and right, especially now that we’re about to peel 2018 off the calendars. Automotive brands have already laid out most of their visions for the coming years, like the electrification efforts for 2020 onwards. Just like everyone else, General Motors (GM) International also laid out 10 things we should all watch out this coming 2019.
Together with Richard Williams, founder of NowAndNext.com and author of Digital Vs. Human, GM International gives us an idea on how 2019 would look like for its brands Chevrolet, Holden, and Cadillac in the Asia-Pacific region. With the trends you’re about to see below, we’ll be able to illustrate in our minds how Chevrolet will drive the local market next year, as well as the coming years.
“In 2019, Asia-Pacific will still be the growth region, manifested in its overall sense of optimism about the future compared to the general sense of disillusionment in the rest of the world. Asia-Pac is looking forward, while the rest of the world looks back.”
Continuous effort in developing self-driving cars
According to GM, we could all expect on seeing more developments in autonomous technology in the coming year. These breakthroughs include cars, trains, buses, trucks, and planes. Yes, airplanes. It seems like the US-based multinational corporation is planning to delve into the aerospace with its self-driving technology under development.
On land, GM’s self-driving unit known as the Cruise Automation is ambitioned to be the first driverless car to be offered in the market. As a matter of fact, the company is already considered as a leader in the development of the technology, considering Cadillac’s Super Cruise semi-autonomous system in mind.
Notable improvements in electric vehicles and alternative fuel
In 2017, GM announced its plans to launch 20 new all-electric vehicles (EV) by the year 2023. Its profit from selling pickup trucks and SUVs made the American corporation able to heavily invest in advanced technologies. Right now, GM is working closely with industry partners to develop hydrogen fuel cell EVs. This is in-line with its vision of zero crashes, zero emissions, and zero congestion public roads in the future.
Reconstruction of various vehicle segments as influenced by electrification and alternative fuels
With the booming popularity of EVs and growing demand in pickups and SUVs, GM thinks it’s smart to come up with a new segment. This is where the recently unveiled ZH2 hydrogen fuel cell-powered electric pickup truck comes in. This concept carries in the company’s next-generation engine inside a Chevrolet Silverado chassis. It’s based on the Chevrolet Colorado ZH2 but is more off-road capable. GM sees it as the benchmark of future eco-friendly trucks under its umbrella.
A decline in the number of young people with driving licenses
According to a study conducted by Schroders, a proportion of young people owning a driving license has declined over the past few years. This could be traced due to the rise of car-sharing services like Grab. Overseas, GM has worked alongside Lyft to develop an on-demand network of self-driving cars. The collaboration also gave birth to a series of short-term car rental hubs with GM cars as the standard units.
Growth of ride-sharing and community-owned transport
The rise of ride-sharing services resulted in fewer people acquiring their own driving licenses. The inevitable trend is also used by governments as a campaign to decrease the volume of cars on the road. In Australia, GM has the Maven Gig Rental Hub to provide Australians with more flexible ways to generate income. Maven Gig is a personal mobility solution for members of the freelance economy and it celebrated its first anniversary reaching a milestone of attaining 1000th unit.
A trend in smaller and lighter vehicles (and advanced nano materials)
Strict regulations in meeting emission standards and advancements in technologies are driving car manufacturers to focus on optimizing the weight of their vehicles in order comply. With this as a hot topic for automakers around the world, GM has reduced the weight of the locally-available Chevrolet Corvette by using lightweight material, such as an ultra-light carbon fiber hood and carbon-nano composite underbody panel. In addition, the company is also using an advanced software design technology in developing the next-gen vehicle ‘lightweighting.’
Growth of connected cars and integrated city-wide transport solutions
Hoping to make public roads safe and in order, auto manufacturers are developing connected car technologies and city-wide transport solutions. With that said, we are starting to see concept cars with vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) and vehicle-to-everything (V2X) communications integrated into them. In 2016, GM was accredited as the first to demonstrate V2X applications in China. It even participated in the first-ever multi-industry demonstration of cellular connected car communications (C-V2X).
Possible 3D printing of lightweight car components and 4D materials
Before, 3D printing is used to fabricate prototypes in the early vehicle development process. Now, GM is working on, alongside with Autodesk Inc., manufacturing 3D-printed lightweight components. Using these lightweight components will help the company meet its goals in adding alternative-fuel vehicles in its fleet. The same 3D-printed components will also be used in high-end motorsports applications.
As technology gets better, it will be the primary source of the production of parts. More interesting is that GM also looks forward to producing shape-shifting transformable 4D-printed materials in the future.
The death of the manual transmission
This might be sad news to manual gearbox patrons but to GM, the end has come for this type of transmission. The advancements in fuel efficiency and improvements on automatic transmission performance are clear statements that the world does not need stick-shift cars anymore. Even more so, manual transmission’s alternative paddle shifters are dubbed as a passing fad by some experts and it is supported by a report in 2017, where GM reported that 62% of drivers used their paddle shifters less than twice per year. Is next year the beginning of the end for manual transmissions?
Influences of old people on car design and functionality
In the past, being old meant you are less likely to travel and mobility is significantly decreased. This is why the need for vehicles designed to accommodate people who have less flexibility became a thing. Nowadays, age is no longer a basis for being active. The older generation is more active and their vehicle of choice are midsize crossovers, as they offer easy entry and exit. Aside from that, safety technologies found on every GM car assure the driver and his passengers a sense of security.