Change is happening but it's not all bad.
There's a certain reality not all car enthusiasts want to hear: fully autonomous and shared electric vehicles are the future. Whether this will happen in a decade's time is still uncertain, but the writing is on the wall. However, this does not mean that conventional vehicles we drive with our own two hands on the steering wheel will be gone completely, at least that's how Toyota's global design chief sees things.
Automotive News recently spoke with Simon Humphries about this topic and his predictions are, to say the least, comforting. "There's going to be a split in the way things evolve in the future," Humphries told AM. "The optimized world is there to cater to your day-to-day transportation needs. But the opposite side of the equation is that you can buy a car that you really want. The all-rounder that we have right now, that we make right now, is theoretically going to go away."
Pod-like vehicles, such as Toyota's upcoming e-Palette, slated to debut next summer at the 2020 Olympics in Japan, and other pods like it are intended to get people from A to B and that's it. Think every day basic transportation. But it's at the other end of the spectrum where enthusiasts will continue to thrive. Instead of that all-rounder, people will buy niche vehicles, specifically sports cars, off-roaders, and luxury sedans. Humphries even believes there's a good chance demand for these types of vehicles, like the new Supra and 4Runner, will actually increase.
Meanwhile, that one-size-fits-all vehicle, such as minivans and midsize sedans, are likely finished. Toyota sees its upcoming e-Palette as its first attempt at "mass-market optimization," as Automotive News dubbed it. Above all, Humphries is bullish about the future of design. In fact, he strongly believes automotive design is about to enter a new golden age.
"I think a lot of people are too pessimistic about the future," Humphries said. "We look optimistically and say it would be the golden age again of transport design. It's going to broaden out of its current middle-of-the-road area and become much more emotional."
May his predictions be right.