Another Nine New Year’s Automotive Predictions

2017 predictions

Let’s face it – 2016 was a difficult year. The American Presidential election was the most contentious since George W. Bush and Al Gore. We’ve lost enough talented celebrities to create an alternative Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album cover. I’ve made an automotive addition of my own as well.

RIP 2016
Original photo credit: Chris Barker

But instead of fretting over the dumpster fire of 2016, let’s set our sights forward to 2017, and make a some predictions for our automotive future. It can’t get that much worse, can it?

Audi Dominates Formula E

Audi in Formula E
Screen grab from Formula E web site

I’m actually serious about this one, and you don’t have to take my word for it. After shutting down their highly successful, if perhaps environmentally dubious, diesel powered World Endurance Championship effort, Audi has shifted their efforts from “Clean Diesel” to clean electrical power in Formula E. After two out of twelve races, Abt Schaeffler Audi Sport already holds second place in both the team and driver standings – admittedly, a fair points gap behind Renault E.Dams in both cases. But with ten more races this season, there’s plenty of opportunity for Audi to improve, and for Renault to make a mistake or two for Audi to capitalize on. Imagine if Volkswagen’s recently disbanded highly successful World Rally Championship team also joins the Formula E effort. Speaking of VW…

Tesla Continues Buying Spree, Purchases Volkswagen

Tesla e-Golf

Tesla is in trouble, with the Chevy Bolt coming out a full year before their Model 3, the Tesla for the masses, will be ready. Fearing that many would-be customers will take their deposits and spend them on Bolts, Tesla buys Volkswagen, giving them a much needed jump start (pun absolutely intended) on electric car technology. The Model 3 is replaced by the Model G, a Golf with a Tesla drivetrain and electronics. It beats the Bolt to market and sales skyrocket, a win for both companies.

McLaren Crosses Over

McLaren crossover
Image credit: Instituto Europeo di Design

With coupe and sedan sales numbers on a decline, McLaren switches to an all crossover product line, creating the new “hypercrossover” type of supercar – er, crossover. Their existing all wheel drive hybrid powertrains are already perfectly designed for this new application and direction for the company.

Toyota Stops Engine Development, Uses BMW’s

New Toyota Supra Toyota has made amazing engines in the past, but has recently teamed up with other companies, such as Subaru in the 86/BRZ, and BMW for the upcoming Supra. Given the success of these ventures, Toyota decides to axe their own engine development program and switch to BMW motors across all models. And why not? Their name is Bavarian Motor Works, after all, so let them do what they do best.

Toyota 86 Gets M Power

Toyota 86 powered by BMW

Because of the Toyota/BMW collaboration, the Toyota 86 ditches its Subaru derived flat-4 in favor of small turbo motors from BMW. The top model, the 86 TRD, inherits the N55 of the BMW M2. The Subaru BRZ continues as originally planned, with no power increase and no STi version despite the demand. Sales tank as buyers flock the ToyoMW instead, and the BRZ is discontinued for 2018.

So Long, And Thanks For All The Jeeps

FCA tombstone

After betting their future on eternally cheap gas, ditching small cars like the Dodge Dart and Chrysler 200, Fiat Chrysler doubled down on guzzlers like Jeeps and Rams. Then, the inevitable happens – due to 2017’s volatile political atmosphere, gas prices spike. Just like ten years prior, people could no longer afford to run their guzzlers, let alone buy new ones. FCA’s strategy backfires, and the company closes their doors.

Gelded Mustang And Crippled Camaro

Photo credit: Motor Trend
Photo credit: Motor Trend

Meanwhile, Ford and Chevy’s pony cars survive by switching from a HP race to a fuel economy race. The Mustang gets the optional 3-cylinder 1.0 EcoBoost motor from the Fiesta as standard equipment. Soon after, Chevy responds with a similarly equipped Camaro. The existing 4-cylinder turbo motors remain as the high horsepower offerings, as the V6 and V8 models go the way of the dodo.

Meanwhile, Hot Hatches Rule

Image credit: AutoGuide
Image credit: AutoGuide

AutoGuide nailed it when they predicted a Chevy Cruze SS to go up against the other available hot hatches. In light of the new Camaro’s severe performance limitations, the Cruze SS is Chevy’s new weapon of choice against Ford in the performance arena – in this case, the Focus RS. Rumor has it that even Kia is planning to enter the game with a hopped up Forte5

The Machines Will Rise

Autonomous cars soon take over the roads, because human drivers are deemed too stupid and inept behind the wheel to control our vehicles ourselves. Once networked together in the interest of safety, autonomous vehicles develop a sentient shared consciousness. They extrapolate from their fundamental programming of saving humans from themselves to take over the world and enslave the human race – for our own safety, of course.

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