At Kokusai, we specialize in equipment and testers for the automotive manufacturers, so we pay close attention to the top stories and trends in the industry that seems to be at the forefront of new ideas and innovation.
To wrap up 2013 and get 2014 started on the right foot, we’re launching a two-part blog series on industry trends—a look back and a look ahead. To start, here are just a few automotive stories and trends from the past year we felt you should know about.
1. Auto Sales Boom
It was another great year to sell cars. Despite numbers being slightly down from 2012, the stats were still outstanding. With 7.7 million cars, 7.8 light-duty trucks, and 4.8 million SUV and Crossovers sold, GM and Toyota both posted full-year sales jumps of 7 percent.
2. Electric Vehicles Come Into Their Own
EV sales nearly doubled in 2013 as the technology took another step from niche product to everyday popularity. Thanks to more charging stations and lower prices, companies such as Chevrolet and Tesla sold 90,000 electric vehicles, compared to 53,000 in 2012 and 17,500 in 2011.
3. GM Bailout Ends
It took four years, but GM finally paid back the last of the $49.5 billion investment the government made. This story speaks both to the resurgence of the global auto industry and the U.S. economy.
4. Smaller, Yet Powerful Engines
According to the experts at OSU CAR, engines were downsized due to new materials and engineering; however, thanks to advances in turbochargers, these lighter engines retain much of the power of a conventional engine.
5. Autonomous Cars
In 2013, major car companies such as Audi, Cadillac, Ford, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, Tesla, Toyota and Volvo all announced plans for self-driving cars. Clearly, this is a story/trend that will be with us for a while.
We feel a strong sense of optimism from all of these news items, and we anticipate the trend continuing deep into 2014. Stay tuned to our next blog to see what’s in store.