What the New Year Has in Store for the World of Automobiles
2014 has been a great year for the automotive industry. Packed with some of the greatest auto shows yet and numerous car introductions, the last year brought us the best means of transportation the industry has to offer. The year kicked off with the redesigned Ford Mustang and the incredibly fast 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06; two strong nominees for the Car of the Year awards, but that has only been the tip of the iceberg. 2014 also saw the launch of the McLaren 650S, the Lamborghini Huracan, BMW’s high-tech i8 and i3, as well as the M3 and M4 performance duo. Speaking of performance duos, Dodge stunned the world with its very own pair of Hellcats based on the Challenger and Charger that are powered by a beastly, supercharger, 6.2-liter, HEMI V-8.
2014 was also a prolific year for pickup trucks, bringing us GM’s return to the midsize segment with the Chevy Colorado, Ford’s innovative, aluminum F-150, Ram’s updated Powerwagon and a host of large SUVs. Also, 2014 saw the Transit van cross the pond to replace the legendary E-Series after more than half a century on the market.
2014 was busy indeed, but 2015 is already upon us and there’s a lot to look forward to. The year kicks off with the Detroit Auto Show on January 12th, but the event will introduce only a mere fraction of what we’re about to see throughout the new year. Read on to find out more about this year’s highlights for the automotive industry.
Click past the jump to read more about what 2015 has in store for us.
New Cars and Trucks
To Arrive In Dealerships
It’s not just the auto shows we need to keep an eye on in 2015. Dealerships across the U.S. are set to receive some of the hottest new cars we’ve seen lose their wraps in 2014. This year promises to be the year of the sports car, with numerous performance vehicles to roll into showrooms over the next months. The Ford Shelby Mustang GT350, the Mercedes-AMG GT, and the Mazda MX-5 Miata are just a few of the brand-new sports cars waiting to meet their customers and take on the race tracks across North America. The third-gen Audi TT is finally arriving on U.S. soil for the 2016 model year, while the ATS-V Coupeand Sedan will spice up the compact segment dominated by the BMW M4 and M3, respectively.
Jaguar’s brand-new XE sedan is also set to cross the pond, alongside a wide selection of F-Types equipped with either all-wheel-drive or manual transmissions. Speaking of which, the Chevrolet SS is yet another performance car that’s finally getting a manual gearbox and a third pedal. How’s that for a reason to celebrate?
For those of you in need of a serious truck to haul stuff around, 2015 is the year when the redesigned F-150 hits showrooms at full blast. Ford’s new workhorse is the first production truck to have its body made from aluminum and it’s expected to change the industry forever. Whether that will happen or not, we’ll find out throughout 2015.
The diesel-powered Chevrolet Colorado is yet another potential game changer America will receive in 2015. Set to go on sale for the 2016 model year, the truck motivated by GM’s 2.8-liter Duramax enables the Colorado to become the first diesel midsize pickup in the U.S., a combo that may spark a revolution in the segment. With Ford and Ram likely to return to the compact truck market, 2015 should bring previews of what may become the next-gen Ranger and Dakota.
Highly Anticipated Debuts
The brand-new vehicles above will be joined by a host of world debuts, consisting of either all-new cars or facelifted versions of current-generation automobiles and trucks. The laundry list of launches planned throughout 2015 will commence with the Detroit Auto Show in January, where Ford will show a more track-focused, R-badged version of the Shelby GT350, the highly anticipated Focus RS, as well as a successor to the unstoppable F-150 SVT Raptor. A redesigned Toyota Tacoma is set to arrive just in time for the brand-new Colorado, while Ram is rolling out a refreshed version of the current 1500 truck.
There’s big news as far as muscle cars go too, as a brand-new Chevrolet Camaro is underway. GM’s redesigned pony is only a few months away from revealing itself to the public, before going on sale toward the end of the year in an attempt to give the 2015 Mustang a run for its money.
The luxury market is about to get a few brand-new competitors as well. A new-generation BMW 7 Series is set to arrive in 2015. The German flagship will be lighter than ever and feature the company’s latest in terms of technology on top of getting a redesigned shell. Cadillac is in the process of launching a new flagship as well, but the Americans are actually coming up with a brand-new nameplate. Dubbed CT6, according to the company’s newly announced naming scheme, the limousine will climb atop the XTS once it breaks cover for the 2016 model year.
The sports car market is about to welcome a host of new vehicles, starting with the highly anticipated Acura NSX. Also scheduled to bow in 2015 is the Sports Series, McLaren’s entry-level sports car and its most affordable vehicle yet. The Sports Series will slot below the 650S and take on the like of the Porsche 911. Speaking of the 911, the mid-cycle facelift of Stuttgart’s No. 1 sports car is due this fall, along with refreshed versions of the Cayman/Boxster. The latter pair is particularly important, as it will introduce the company’s new range of four-cylinder engines.
In the greener department, Chevrolet is introducing the second-generation Volt. The four-door is not just about improved looks, but also about a more powerful and fuel-efficient drivetrain, updated technology and, according to GM, a lower sticker.
New Car Technology
Given technology evolves incredibly fast, it’s rather difficult to anticipate what 2015 will bring, but looking at what we already know it seems it will be quite the year for car-related tech.
The 2016 Toyota Mirai — and its hydrogen fuel cell powerplant — is arguably the vehicle we need to keep our eyes on. Sure, hydrogen-powered cars are nothing new, but this Japanese car showcasing a different approach, starting from its drivetrain and ending with an impressive list of add-ons included in its sticker. The Mirai boasts an astounding 300-mile range, five-minute fill-up time, PTO generator capabilities, fantastic warranty, and free hydrogen for three years, making it the most likely vehicle to make hydrogen fuel more viable and popular among drivers. What’s more, Toyota is also working on a hydrogen refueling station infrastructure that will eventually include New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island in addition to its current Southern California network.
While autonomous cars are still a few years away, some automakers are already testing various technologies and even adding them to production cars. One of them is autonomous parking, which, in short, enables a vehicle to park by itself. The technology works in conjunction with a host of cameras and sensors and allows some cars to steer themselves into a parallel or perpendicular parking space while the driver only operates the gears and the pedals. While this technology was only available on a limited number of cars a few years ago, the feat is not only becoming more and more popular with automakers, but it’s also evolving to require less input from drivers. 2015 might just bring the first production vehicle that can search for a parking spot, park, and pick up the driver from a designated location by itself.
It hasn’t been long since LED headlamps have become the norm in the U.S., and a brand-new technology is set to take things up a notch. Both Audi and BMW have been working on their laser headlights since 2013, and last year brought the first two production cars to feature tech. Audi won the concept-to-production race by fitting the special-edition R8 LMX with such units, while BMW followed suit with the tremendous i8 sports car. As of December 2014, none of these vehicles are allowed to roam public U.S. streets with laser lights, but that could soon change. Federal regulations are to blame for BMW not being allowed to sell the i8 with the same specs as in Europe, but as more and more automakers will employ the technology, the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 108 will most certainly receive the much needed update as to allow lasers to light the driver’s path. It would be foolish for the NHTSA not to do so, as laser lamps aren’t only smaller and more efficient than today’s LEDs, but they also feature diffusion techniques designed to retain their very white illuminating power while making them safe to look at.
While in-car internet access isn’t exactly new, the feature has yet to become common with automakers and vehicles. Up until now, manufacturers such as BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Audi or Chrysler have been offering internet access in selected models from their respective lineups. Starting 2015, however, in-car internet access will spread to increasingly more cars, most likely to the point where most vehicles will be able to become a Wi-Fi hotspot. General Motors is the first company to equip nearly all of its new cars and trucks with 4G LTE Wi-Fi, a feature that is now standard from the tiny Chevrolet Spark to the large and luxurious Cadillac Escalade.
Auto Shows Galore
No automotive year is complete without auto shows and the 2015 has plenty of action. No less than eight major events are scheduled between January and November, beginning with the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. More than 100 brand-new production and concept cars are expected to debut throughout 2015.
2015 Auto Show Calendar:
Detroit Auto Show - January 12-25
Geneva Motor Show - March 5-15
New York International Auto Show - April 3-12
Shanghai Auto Show - April 20-29
Frankfurt Motor Show September 17-27
Tokyo Motor Show - October 29 - November 8
SEMA Show - November3-6
Los Angeles Auto Show November 20-29
The Racing Season
The 2015 racing season is packed with even more action and debuts as early as January. The first major racing series to kick off is the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship on January 24th with the Rolex 24 at Daytona Raceway. Next up is the 2015 World Rally Championship, which debuts on January 25th with the legendary Monte Carlo Rally.
NASCAR fans will have to wait until February for the 2014 Sprint Cup Series to commence. The Sprint Unlimited race is scheduled on February 14th, while the first official event, the Daytona 500, gets the green flag on February 22.
March brings the Australian Grand Prix, the race that marks the beginning of the 2015 Formula One season. A month later it’s time for the World Endurance and the Blancpain Endurance championships to begin. Both debut on April 12th with the 6 Hours of Silverstone and the 3 Hours of Monza, respectively.
The 24 Hours of Le Mans remains the most anticipated endurance race of the year. For 2015, the 24-hour-long competition that brings together tens of automakers and more than 50 cars takes place on June 13th to 14th at the Circuit de la Sarthe in Le Mans, France.