What can luxury automobile buyers expect in the coming decade?
The car you drive is a powerful symbol of wealth and prestige, and that isn’t about to change—but the features that define luxury are always being refined by automakers. Here are a few of the features that the luxury car of the future will have in store for discerning buyers.
1. Body Configuration
BMW’s GINA concept automobile has a body that can be literally transformed to the user’s specifications. Instead of a body composed of metal or composite plates, the GINA is made of a flexible fiber that can be stretched and folded over the metal skeleton. It’s translucent, insulated and water-resistant, so it feels just like driving in a car with a standard body—but you can reconfigure the body, retracting the top, inflating the spoiler, or other preset configurations. The result is strikingly smooth—the fiber panels appear totally seamless, so it actually appears to “morph” in front of your eyes.
2. Full Automation
This has been the holy grail of design for many years now—a self-driving car. Until recently, it was relegated to science fiction stories, but Google and Audi are clearly in the running to make it marketable. Three states have legalized road-testing for autonomous cars, and so far, they have only experienced one accident—due to preventable user error. Self-driving cars will be safer and far more efficient than human drivers, because they never become inattentive or impaired. Soon, busy professionals will be able to get a jump on their day’s work during the morning commute.
3. “Top Speed Key”
This feature is already available in the $1.7 million dollar Bugatti Veyron 16.4; when you turn the key, the Veyron’s suspension and rear spoiler shift down to reduce drag, minimizing the aerodynamic profile of the car and accessing the car’s maximum performance. Future cars may access similar tools to maximize fuel efficiency, passenger space, or crash safety, depending on the user’s need.
4. Huge fuel efficiency gains
If the current line of concepts are any indication, the hybrids of the future will perform like the muscle cars of today. The 918 Porsche Spyder has a maximum speed of 198 MPH, and goes from zero to 60 in 3.2 seconds—with a maximum fuel efficiency of 94 miles per gallon (more than double the fuel efficiency of the Smart Car). Nearly all luxury cars outside of the realm of motorsports incorporate some level of hybrid technology, and use far less gas than their predecessors. Once the cost of these advances falls, expect them to factor into pricing new cars at every price point, from economy to luxury.
5. Personal assistant functionality
Lincoln’s C Concept is a sort of butler—it maintains your calendar, sends alerts via Bluetooth, and helps keep you on time with reminders of distance and drive time to your next engagement. Expect the luxury car of the future to integrate with your mobile devices even more seamlessly, with full multimedia support, including streaming audio, backseat video, and push notifications.
Tara Wagner is a staff writer for TechBreach. She has worked from home for over a decade, and loves sharing news and advice with fellow telecommuting moms and dads. She's fascinated by new tech and new ideas; and when she finds time to unplug, she enjoys long hikes in the mountains near her home. She lives in Denver.