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General Motors shares top 10 automotive trends for 2019

Including the demise of stick shifts and the rise of 3D printing

Because it’s the start of the year, General Motors International, the American automaker’s division that manages the Chevrolet, Holden and Cadillac brands in Asia-Pacific, wants to let us know about the trends that will dictate the direction of the automotive industry this year. To do that, the organization has collaborated with NowAndNext.com founder and Digital Vs. Human author Richard Watson.

In a nutshell, these will be the prevailing narrative in the car business in the next 12 months. Most of the trends included here, to be honest, are already a given. But at least a couple of them are admittedly interesting (or amusing, to say the least). Curious to find out what those are? Read on.

This car doesn’t have a steering wheel. PHOTO FROM GENERAL MOTORS

1. Fully autonomous cars will continue to progress very rapidly. And Cruise Automation, GM’s self-driving vehicle unit, wants to be the very first to sell vehicles without a steering wheel (not this year, of course).

The fossil-fuel pump will be replaced by this. PHOTO FROM GENERAL MOTORS

2. We will hear a lot more about electrification as car companies around the world ramp up their investment in the research and development of electric vehicles. In the Philippines, we will probably even see more EV charging stations opening to the public. As for GM, the firm aims to release no fewer than 20 all-new EVs by 2023. That’s a lot.

The Chevrolet Colorado ZH2 concept from 2016. PHOTO FROM CHEVROLET

3. The distinction between large and small vehicles, or expansive and cheap cars, will no longer be as simple as differentiating between their sizing or pricing. Advancement in alternative-propulsion technologies will make consumers view traditional vehicle types (like pickup trucks) in a whole new light. Decision-making on the part of car shoppers, in other words, will become even trickier.

Kids today hate driving. Who can blame them? Traffic sucks. PHOTO FROM LYFT

4. Young people will be more indifferent toward driving as they get spoiled by the convenience offered by transport network vehicle services. Why purchase and maintain your own car when you can just book a ride from Grab (Philippines) or Lyft (United States)?

GM’s own Maven car-sharing service allows gig workers to make money. PHOTO FROM GENERAL MOTORS

5. Related to the previous trend, the ride-sharing business will continue to flourish. GM points out that its Maven car-sharing service is actually doing well and even gives gig workers an opportunity to earn a living.

The use of carbon fiber in production cars will become more common. Good for us. PHOTO FROM GENERAL MOTORS

6. As governments seek to reduce air pollution in their respective territories, they will require carmakers to produce more fuel-efficient vehicles. To achieve this, the latter will turn to small and lightweight cars. Start getting used to mini hatchbacks like the Chevrolet Spark then.

Imagine a motoring world where cars talk to each other. No more accidents. PHOTO FROM GENERAL MOTORS

7. Connected cars—or vehicles that are able to communicate with each other and their surroundings—will become more popular. Time to include “vehicle to infrastructure” and “vehicle to everything” in your vocabulary.

It’s not science fiction, just 3D printing. PHOTO FROM GENERAL MOTORS

8. Nerdy car nuts will love this one: 3D printing of car components. A year ago, Bugatti already 3D-printed a titanium brake caliper. And now, GM wants to be able to 3D-print “thousands of parts” within the next few years.

Cherish your old car if it has a manual gearshift. PHOTO FROM CHEVROLET

9. The stick shift will fade into oblivion. Old news, actually, but GM makes it sound like 2019 will finally see the manual transmission officially getting buried. Boo.

Old people have special mobility needs. PHOTO FROM GENERAL MOTORS

10. The unique needs of old people will influence the way vehicles are designed. Auto companies want to be sensitive to the needs of the elderly—understandable, as many industry executives are aging fast themselves—so they’ll throw in more features and systems that are lolo-friendly. Something to look forward to in our twilight years, guys.

Vernon B. Sarne

Vernon is the founder and editor-in-chief of VISOR. He has been an automotive journalist since July 1995. He became one by serendipity, walking into the office of a small publishing company and applying for a position he had no idea was for a local car magazine. God has watched over him throughout his humble journey. He writes the ‘Spoiler’ column.