The concept of time is so deeply engrained in us that we see the arrival of a new year as the perfect moment to make changes in our lives. Whether we decide to quit smoking or to devote more time to project cars, we make resolutions in a bid to have a healthier and more enjoyable life in 12 months’ time.
At Digital Trends, we think automakers should follow our example and make resolutions to improve their image, the environment they operate in, and the products they sell. We haven’t heard any official resolutions yet, so we’ve taken the liberty of offering a few suggestions of our own.
Don’t try to fill every market niche
Niche vehicles only turn heads until the segment reaches a certain volume. Once every car company out there jumps on the bandwagon, niche models go from being special to just plain odd. How many crossover-coupes do you see on a daily basis?
Filling every conceivable niche in the market isn’t an obligation, there’s nothing inherently wrong with building mainstream cars. Alternatively, find a niche that’s not overly crowded like Volvo has done with the S60 Cross Country, a car that’s truly unique on the market. Now’s a good time to point out that the shooting brake segment is all but vacant.
Don’t forget the enthusiasts
We’re not suggesting all automakers need to build a rear-engined coupe to take on the Porsche 911 Turbo, but adding a dash of excitement to a lineup never hurts. Certainly don’t take the Mitsubishi route and expunge all joy from the product lineup in lieu of sensible utility. Nearly every single car maker has built an enthusiast-approved model at least once in its history.
Sports cars (both standalone models and sport-focused variants of existing cars) are fantastic image boosters when they’re done right. And, who knows, they might even help rake in more cash. Lincoln has taken that route with the 2017 MKZ, which can be ordered with all-wheel drive and a 400-horsepower V6.
This one seems obvious but we think it’s worth repeating in the wake of the Dieselgate scandal. Nothing stays secret for very long in this industry, and browsing through the pantheon of automotive history reveals that lies have almost always been exposed by journalists and/or savvy consumers.
Lying to buyers and regulators superficially seems like the easiest and most hassle-free way to get something done; Dieselgate is the big-business equivalent of punching equations into a Texas Instruments calculator to cheat on an algebra final. But, remember that nothing is cheap in this industry, and doing something right the first time usually ends up costing less than damage control once the scandal hits the front page.
Don’t forget about your heritage
Heritage is what helps make automakers iconic; would Mustang be a household name if every generation had hit the market with a new nameplate? Would Fiat have been able to introduce the retro-chic 500 if it hadn’t spent decades churning out the original, rear-engined model?
Money can’t buy heritage. If your company has buckets of it, invest in a museum, help collectors who are looking for parts, and participate in car shows all around the globe. A classic center ultimately generates profits, and in many cases it sparks brand loyalty.
Electricity is the future, but don’t bury the internal combustion engine quite yet
There are no two ways around it: electricity is the future. While the members of OPEC unsurprisingly don’t agree with that prediction, the general consensus in the auto industry is that a majority of the cars sold new in 2050 will be powered by an electric (or at least an electrified) drivetrain.
That said, the internal combustion engine that’s been powering our cars, trucks, and buses for over a century has bright days ahead of it. Porsche, Mercedes-Benz, and Ford are among the many automakers that recently proved there are ways to make the internal combustion engine more efficient without sacrificing power by turning to technologies such as forced induction, a start/stop system, and direct fuel injection. In other words, don’t throw away your spark plug socket just yet.