Looking back on 2010, it was one hell of a roller coaster. Like any other year, it had it’s good times and bad times, but the good times seemed fewer and farther between than in years passed. On the automotive front, enthusiasts got some great new choices, greens got the first modern mass produced electric car (and the first serial hybrid) and everyone else got improved quality and reliability. Car sales were up, despite a down economy, and both Audi and Hyundai posted record years. GM proved that they’re well on the way back to financial health, and Ford continued their growth in market share. Even Chrysler rallied in 2010, introducing the new Jeep Grand Cherokee, the Fiat 500 and the revised 2011 Charger and Challenger.
If 2010 was a roller coaster, I’d expect more of the same in 2011. I’m not reading tea leaves here, and I’m not posting any predictions with political motivation. From where I sit, this is what I expect to happen in the next 12 months. I wouldn’t start building that Unimog for the zombie apocalypse just yet, but it would probably be a very good idea to make yourself a go bag and come up with an evacuation plan, just to be safe. In no particular order, here’s what I expect to happen in 2011.
Gas will top $4.00 per gallon. Maybe it’ll be tied to a natural disaster, or maybe it’ll be tied to increased demand from China or India, but whatever reason the oil companies give us, expect the price of gas to begin it’s migration upward. I’m not sure it will stay there long, but I’d expect $3.00 per gallon pricing to become the new norm. Plan accordingly.
The Fisker Karma and the Tesla Model S will both see “production delays”. In fact, I’d be surprised if the Fisker Karma ever sees production, and the Tesla Model S’ viability depends on the relationship between Toyota and Tesla. If Toyota decides an all-electric Camry is a top priority, expect the Tesla Model S to get put on the back burner.
Recalls: expect lots of them. The Toyota recall debacle has left everyone in the auto industry gun shy, and no one wants to be the next company to receive record fines. If you thought 2010 had a lot of recalls, just wait for 2011 and beyond.
Implementation of new CAFE standards will be delayed. We may see the jump from a 27.5 MPG requirement (for passenger cars) to a 30.3 MPG requirement in 2011, but I don’t expect that the current mandate of 39 MPG by 2016 will remain unchanged. A cost effective technology that’s applicable to everything ranging from commuter cars to sports cars simply doesn’t exist, and automakers will ramp up pressure on politicians in the coming year.
The downsizing of horsepower. I suspect that 2011, or maybe 2012, will be the end of the current horsepower race. Cars like the 556 horsepower Cadillac CTS-V can’t exist in a politically correct society, and Cadillac will need to sell an awful lot of ATS hybrids to offset a single CTS-V. Like it or not, the future belongs to hybrid drivetrains and small displacement turbocharged motors. If you want a Mustang GT or a Camaro SS, I wouldn’t wait beyond 2012 to buy one.
Am I right? Am I crazy? We’ll know for sure by the end of next year, but I’d love to have your thoughts on the above predictions.