By Sebastien Dorelas
Despite the pandemic and gas prices going up over the last few years, the automotive industry remained fairly stable. In fact, Canada saw its number of sold vehicles increase by 5.2% from 2022-to-2023. Many consumers are still looking for affordable, reliable and quality vehicles. According to Asking Canadians survey by KPMG, more than six-out-of 10 Canadians have been considering purchasing new vehicles in the next five years. As new technologies continue to evolve rapidly and environmental innovations are shifting this industry into a new direction, consumers are looking for a new car that will leaad them into the future. If this is your situation, you will need to do some research to establish what car will be the best option. Before you finish up your search and zero in on your new wheels, here are three trends to look out in 2024:
Trend #1 – Electric vehicle adoption
Opting for an electric vehicle (VP) is choosing to go places while investing in our planet’s future. EVs offer great value for their drivers while being fuel-efficient. Besides, they are affordable and have one of the best resale values on the market. The federal government is providing up to $5,000 incentives for Canadian consumers who buy or lease a fully electric or plug-in hybrid EV. This program should continue until March 31, 2025.
Contrary to popular belief, vehicle electrification doesn’t equate to completely ending gasoline usage. In fact, there are two types of vehicles available right now: the plug-in hybrid electric and the battery-electric. The plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) offers two sources of power so drivers can drive further while reducing carbon emissions. A PHEV possesses both gas engine and electric motors. These vehicles provide the possibility of switching between gas-mode only to electric-mode only. Instead of the commonly used combustion engine, the battery electric vehicle, also known as BEV, relies entirely on the power of electricity to function. You will need to charge your BEV. Drivers can install a charger at home, workplace or access the nearest charging station.
Both of these offer advantages. Consumers may consider a PHEV as they provide more flexibility with gasoline and electric-only options. BEVs have larger and bigger batteries which can help reduce your carbon footprint. In both instances, charging may be an issue for people living in remote areas as infrastructures are still expanding. Eco-conscious drivers will want to explore the following vehicles: Nissan Leaf Plus, Hyundai Kona Electric and Tesla Model 3 Long Range. These three have been named amongst a list of best electric vehicles for Canadian winters.
Trend #2 – Cars Become Even More Connected!
Connectivity is another important factor for many Canadian drivers. Let’s face it: our roads are long and wide covering several provinces from coast-to-coast. In fact, the Trans-Canada Highway is the longest uninterrupted route in North America. According to StatsCan, 80% of Canadians commuted to a location outside their home for work in May 2023. This number reiterates the importance for Canadians drivers to be well connected whether they are driving for work or travelling for leisure from a city to another region.
Connected cars receive software updates, communicate with emergency services and offer intuitive entertainment systems such as Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. Technology features and drivability are more than ever intertwined. More companies focus on improving the overall driver and passenger experience on the road. Here are two features to consider in the connectivity category:
Heads-Up Display (HUD)
Amongst the many features available to drivers, the heads-up display seems to have become popular lately. Manufacturers like Toyota, Hyundai and Buick are offering this amazing feature in their new models. This technology provides an image with key information in the driver’s field of vision, just beneath their line of sight. This tool is additionally a safety feature that doesn’t distract the driver. There are three types of displays: in-car, apps and third-party.
Each type has their pros and cons. For example, the built-in system is made perfectly while being included in the financial bundle with one vehicle. That being said, it cannot be moved from one vehicle to another. The HUD apps are usually free and easy to install on your mobile. Keep in mind that you need to focus on the road. Therefore, you need to anchor your phone to the dashboard without obstructing your view. Finally, if you want to choose very specific features, an aftermarket HUD might be something to consider. Keep in mind that they are expensive and may clutter your dashboard.
Drivers should factor in pricing, display size, visibility and even ease of use to determine the one that fits their needs best.
One of the most popular automotive safety features are smart sensors. If safety is a top priority, then rest assured the majority of 2024 models are focusing on providing you with peace of mind. Thanks to the smart sensors, Canadian drivers will feel more comfortable maneuvering their vehicles. Car sensors are electronic devices which are located everywhere in your vehicle. They observe and monitor the vehicle; they transmit information to the driver regarding different aspects of the vehicle such as temperature, engine and vehicle speed. In addition, they provide real-time information on the control system ensuring the safety of occupants once you start your engine.
Many 2024 models are equipped with a great many sensors. The parking sensor is a popular feature that can help detect obstacles in front or behind your vehicle as you are about to park. The fuel temperature measures fuel entering the engine. Overall, a car can have up to 70 different sensors. Each one of them will record a different component of the vehicle. They all aim to provide safety for drivers and passengers.
Trend #3 – Autonomous driving is getting closer!
The idea of self-driving vehicles always seemed to be something we only fantasized about in in sci-fi movies. Some American cities however, like San Francisco are currently experimenting with brands like Robotaxis. These are self-driving cars making driving decisions. As technology progresses, we are getting closer to seeing the first iteration of driverless cars on Canadian highways.
To describe it as simply as possible, autonomous vehicles heavily rely on sensors, cameras, radar and artificial intelligence to travel from point A to point B without a driver. They respond well to simple things such as stopping at a red light or staying in-lane. However, things get more complicated in active environments such as a downtown core. Several issues such as performance, traffic and weather conditions tend to disrupt these vehicles. Autonomous vehicles lack basic understanding of the complex nature of the dynamics with other motorists such as cyclists and pedestrians. Ontario is the only Canadian province allowing autonomous vehicles on the road for testing purposes.
While autonomous vehicles are currently being tested in California, semi-autonomous cars like the Tesla Model 3 offer this amazing feature. Semi-autonomous cars are able to keep in-lane and can also park themselves. Drivers must keep their hands on the steering wheel at all times. While these vehicles are already on our roads, a study from the University of Windsor demonstrated that drivers getting behind the wheel of a semi-autonomous car don’t pay attention to the road.
A full transition to autonomous vehicles in Canada may not happen overnight as we have a lot of challenges to face and a lot of questions needing answers. The automotive industry and governments must look for new regulations around this new segment of vehicles.
The future for Canadian drivers looks bright and filled with promising technologies that will improve the experiences in 2024. While semi-autonomous vehicles are perceived as luxurious for the average Canadian driver, automotive experts predict that once these vehicles become authorized on our roads, safety will significantly increase.