On the Horizon: Three Automotive Trends to Look Out for This Year

Things are constantly changing—from the seasons to the latest fashion trends to the menu at your favorite restaurant. And the automotive industry is no exception. Like clockwork, a new crop of cars, crossovers, SUVs, trucks, and subcompact cars enter the market, each one trendier than the next.

And here at Jim Shorkey, we like to stay up-to-date on all things car related. So here are our best guesses on what to except this year and beyond.

Techs and Specs Are Standard. As the times change, so do the cars. Automakers are constantly trying to stay one step ahead of each other, much to the benefit of drivers everywhere. And it’s our guess that cutting-edge technological advances are just around the corner, with even more breakthroughs coming in the form of better electric vehicle technology, first ever dirt-repellant car paint, fuel-economy saving transmissions, web-connected in-car experiences, vehicle-to-vehicle communication (V2V), high tech safety technology, and so much more. The industry is even looking at energy-storing car body panels for hybrid/EV usage.

Just the Way You Like It. Automakers understand everyone wants a vehicle designed for them. So get ready for a more customized, design-shifting experience over the next few years in the automotive industry.

Lots of automakers already offer such a customized experience, but moving forward you’ll be able to fine tune the way your car drives, glows (yes, glows), holds things, and potentially even the way it looks with relatively little effort.

Cozy Cabin Quarters. Already apparent in cars like the 2015 Chrysler 200, in-car cabin quality is being forever changed through feedback from user experiences and a higher class of materials being used. Thank you, carbon fiber and beautiful wood trim.

There also seems to be a trend appearing to unfold that makes the passenger and driver experience more pleasing inside the vehicle – partnerships with companies, including Beats by Dre, Bose, Siri, and Google Maps.

Look for this to continue with an emphasis on infotainment applications (apps), entertainment (USB backseat ports), and even comfort (a la NASA-inspired seating).

Do You Have a Car? Well, There’s an App for That

With millions of mobile applications available, the automotive industry refuses to take a backseat to this technology boom. Unfortunately, scrolling through available apps can be time consuming, but don’t worry—we’ve got you covered. Here, we break down a few apps we think are worthy of your download.

Waze: Widely regarded as the “go-to app for cars on the road,” Waze features one of the biggest communities that reports real-time traffic conditions and gas prices. Many say the beauty of Waze is how simple it is—users just need to have the app open on their phone while they commute. From there, the app determines where there’s a lot of traffic and whether drivers should reroute to avoid it. Waze can also provide alternate routes in case the commonly used roads are littered with slow-downs and problems.

AAA: A must-have for AAA members, this app provides easy access to all of the automobile club’s services in one easy-to-use interface. It points out nearby gas stations with up-to-date fuel prices and public charging stations for electric car owners. This app also makes it easier to call for roadside assistance by using your phones GPS coordinates. You can even specify if you need a tow, or just a battery replacement.

SeeClickFix: Anyone who has driven through Pittsburgh in March knows the streets are riddled with potholes. With SeeClickFix, users can report these issues, as well as damaged or vandalized street signs and malfunctioning traffic lights, to the local government.

GasBuddy: When it comes to buying something at the best possible price, gas shouldn’t be an exception. With GasBuddy, users can find the cheapest fuel around, saving a few bucks per tank without the headache of driving from station to station. It may not sound like a lot, but over the course of a year, you would be surprised at how much you could save.

Beat the Traffic: This app acts as a travel-time concierge, notifying drivers of any issues on their normal traffic route before heading out. Motorists can provide updated information, thanks to an easy “shake-to-report” function. With clean graphics and an easy to use interface, it’s a great way to beat the blues of a busy morning commute.

AroundMe: Looking for the closest ATM, hospital, convenience store, or movie theater? Just give the AroundMe app a quick tap. Using your phone’s GPS sensor, AroundMe will locate the nearest point of interest—perfect for drivers who often find themselves in unfamiliar territory or those enjoy road trips with no predefined destination in mind.