What’s the most important factor for consumers when selecting a new vehicle? In today’s market, research suggests that fuel efficiency is one of the highest consumer priorities, and is highly linked to customer satisfaction.
In a nationally representative US survey, consumers stated that improving the fuel economy of their vehicles should be a high priority for automakers (84%), and that they should be mandated to do so by the federal government (73%). Majorities of both major political parties, and people from all regions of the United States, were in favour of the production of more fuel efficient vehicles.
The survey also showed that fuel economy was the #1 response to the question of what characteristic of your current vehicle could use the most improvement (32%), that 60% of respondents said that they would pay more for a fuel-efficient vehicle if they could recoup the costs based on fuel savings within 5 years, that 79% said that making SUVs and trucks more fuel efficient was important, and that 75% believed that increasing fuel economy from 25 MPG to 40 MPG by 2025 was a worthwhile goal.
Companies are already jumping on board with this trend, and some of them have been for some time. Take Ford, for instance: their EcoBoost engines improve fuel economy by up to 20 per cent, but cost much less than hybrids and diesels. Featuring two modes for optimum fuel efficiency when driving at light throttle on a highway or around town, and for high acceleration and towing capacity when stomping on the gas pedal or pulling a load up a steep hill, they are the company’s solution to the problem of increasing fuel economy while still producing fast, powerful, and exciting vehicles.
For example, the Ford F-150 was used to validate the engines to make sure that truck drivers would still be able to enjoy the torque and acceleration they have long been used to. Following 13,000 hours of engine testing (with 5,000 hours at full boost), 100,000 hours of vehicle testing was logged in total, with all components being tested to an equivalence of 150,000 miles.
Ford isn’t the only company to really push fuel economy of course, and some companies are going even further and investing in all-electric lines. The most famous of those is Tesla, whose super-stylish Tesla 3 has 400,000 pre-orders, mostly because of its relatively high range (215 miles) and relatively low price (from $35,000). The car can also accelerate from zero to 60 in under six seconds, and a 30-minute fast charge will get you 160 miles or so.
All of this means that the electric vehicle market is nipping at the heels of the conventional car industry, and is likely to catch up sooner rather than later. It doesn’t hurt that vehicles like the Tesla 3 are dripping with tech – for example, the car has no dashboard, just one touchscreen that controls everything, and also features an ‘autopilot’ mode that can steer the car inside a lane, change lanes automatically, and manage your speed without you having to lift a finger. And more expensive models can even park themselves.
Four Trends to Watch For
- Autonomous Driving It’s coming, but it’s not here yet. What is here is assisted driving, as described above: cars that contain sensors letting you know when you’re too close to the line and adaptive cruise control technology that adjusts your speed based on the car in front of you.
- Crossovers Drives like a car but looks like an SUV? It’s probably a crossover. They tend to be more fuel efficient than larger SUVs and trucks, and the extra space is ideal for families who need a seat for every child.
- Big Data in the Car The US Department of Transportation recently proposed a rule that all new cars on the road must be able to digitally ‘talk’ to one another by 2020. With the advent of internet connections for all new vehicles, data about drivers will be more widely shared than ever, with potentially exciting – and frightening – results.
- What’s Old is New They say that everything old is new again, and automakers are cashing in on nostalgia by releasing revamped versions of old favourites, like Ford’s 2020 revamp of its cult favourite, the Bronco; and VW’s concept of its 70s-era microbus, set to hit the market in 2022.