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Five Car-Related Predictions For The Coming Year

Posted in auto industry, Car Buying, Emissions, Engines, Environment, Featured, Fuel, Fuel-efficient, Gas Prices, New Cars, Newsworthy, Promoted by Kurt Ernst | December 31st, 2010 | 5 Responses |

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.

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5 Responses

  1. I only partially agree with the HP downsize. Corvettes and the like will still exsist for the next decade because people will continue to buy them.

    I think we’ll find new ways to make things fast though. Politically everyone wants to think we’re out making cars that get good mileage going 55mph but realistically theres still a lot of people that want a car with some power behind it. I think we’ll see more things like hybrids that can combine the motors to make power. The Honda Cr-z does it and most of the hybrid super car concepts can also do it.

    Car guys will just have to embrace the new age of horse power. I personally look forward to owning a car that gets 35mpg+ on the way to work but has a “sport” button that combines the motors and makes it a power house on the weekends.

  2. speedie says:

    I agree with Tom’s. Cafe just means that we will find new ways to get our speed. I can imagine an electric that goes 0-60 in 3 sec and gets over a 100 miles to a charge. This is exeactly the kind of challenge that american car companies need. Be leaders and set the standard!

  3. Kurt Ernst says:

    Tom & Speedie, there’s no doubt that that’s the direction the industry is going. GOOD performance hybrids are going to take time to engineer and build, since you’re having to overcome the weight penalty of electric motors and batteries (in addition to the gasoline engine).

    I suspect (wink, wink, nudge, nudge) that GM is already hard at work on performance hybrids, although I can’t confirm this. Plausible deniability and all that…

  4. Craig Thompson says:

    Fuel prices will certainly go up, demand we know is growing supply is relatively constant, one disaster or war and their is only one direction for price to go – up. Its been said foe some time that when the price of any commodity goes up Americans simply waste less – that is where efficency comes in. Thi syears Xchallenge winner was (to my surprise) an ultra light internal combustion engine. Why not electric? Weight for our current battery technology is its limiting factor and that, I predict is primed to change soon and will likely be connected to nano technology and ultra conductive carbon materials as will contruction and weight saving measures. I already drive a MINI Cooper S (efficient if you want it to be and fun when you ask) and will likely hang on to it for the next few years as now, in my opinion is not the time to buy.

  5. […] I made my car related predictions for the coming year, I said that gas would top $4.00 a gallon by the end of 2011. I also said that […]