The past twelve months have been an exciting period to be reading and writing about mobility tech. We’ve seen artificial intelligence in the form of Google Assistant and others coming to cars, we’ve seen augmented reality in motorcycle helmets and we’ve seen ride-sharing and dockless vehicles split opinions. But what does 2019 have in store for us?
Lots of new EVs will come out, and some will sell
We’ll kick things off with a bit of a gimme. It’s not exactly a bold prediction, but 2019 is going to be a year absolutely packed with fully-electric car releases. We are still waiting for the year that the EV market really kicks into top gear, and I think we will still have to wait a little longer before we see that happen, but 2019 will still be exciting.
The Audio e-tron 2019 will no doubt be a highlight for fans of the German manufacturer. We were supposed to see this car last year, but software issues caused a delay. Expect it to land in Q1. The Mercedes-Benz EQC 2019, a new i3 and a new electric Mini from BMW and an all-electric XC40 from Volvo will all turn heads this year.
The year 2019, however, is all about the Porsche Taycan. The most highly anticipated EV of the year will introduce an 800-volt system and the fastest charging we’ve ever seen. Add to that a range of more than 200 miles, high-speed performance and a $90,000 price tag, and the Porsche EV has all the ingredients to be the car of the year. This also leads us nicely onto my next predictions.
Electric cars will become (even more valuable) status symbols
Porsche‘s first all-electric sports car is easily the most hotly anticipated EV of the year - the company says that it has already taken reservations for a year’s worth of cars - but all-electric vehicles, in general, are becoming the must-have status symbol social climbers.
We’ve seen this trend before. If you’ve ever met an overly proud Tesla owner, you’ll know what I’m talking about. But in 2019, the EV as a status symbol could explode. It’s a feeling that is shared by the CEO of the luxury British car manufacturer, Bentley. Adrian Hallmark has noticed that rich liberals are buying Teslas, and he wants a piece of the action.
Bentley unveiled an all-electric concept last year, the EXP 12 Speed 6e, and it is not the only company looking to exploit the deep pockets of the liberal elite. I expect 2019 is only going to increase the status of EVs as a measure of one’s success.
E-Scooters will have another tough year, but aren't going away
Last year was a bit of a rough ride for e-scooter companies and not just in the US, but on the other side of the Atlantic too. After Lime was kicked out of San Francisco - a battle that the company has not given up on yet - and similar bans in Madrid and Paris, the scooter startups can expect to experience another year of mixed fortunes.
We’ve reached a pivotal moment for e-scooter companies such as Lime and Bird. Investment keeps on pouring in, and that’s a good thing. Lime had 26 million rides last year and Bird, now valued at $2 billion, is rumored to be in talks with Uber.
But resistance continues to intensify, and that’s not so good. It’s not just lawmakers that are putting up a fight, residents are also taking matters in their own hands. There is a real sense that, in 2019, something has got to give. I predict that scooters could be in for another rocky year, but certainly aren’t going away any time soon.
The backlash to new tech will continue
As new mobility tech comes to market, there are always those who don’t like change. It is difficult to see the logic in an anti-electric vehicle movement, but that it what parts of the US are facing. Have you heard of ‘Icing’? The term is used to describe the act of parking a vehicle with an Internal Combustion Engine (hence the ICE) in a charging station for all-electric vehicles.
Icing has been reported and pictured in North Carolina, where three pickup drivers blocked access whilst chanting “F*** Tesla!”. Similar incidents continue to crop up on Reddit. We are talking about a minority here, but Icing is quickly becoming a problem in the US.
Resistance to self-driving cars is also on the rise. In Arizona, where a self-driving Uber was responsible for the first level 3 fatality when it hit and killed a pedestrian, residents have slashed tires on Waymo cars. Google’s self-driving car project has suffered at least 21 attacks from angry locals since 2017.
These kinds of stories, along with images of wrecked e-bikes and e-scooters, will continue to make headlines in 2019 as society adjusts to new ways of getting from A to B.
The concepts are going to get crazier
The idea that self-driving cars would transport us around our cities is no longer futuristic. We live in a world where this is already a possibility and, in some cities, a reality. In 2019, we are going to see this technology spread further and further, as wider applications are pitched from companies around the world.
It took less than a day in 2019 for this one to start bearing fruit, when news Autonomous Travel Suite (ATS), a self-driving hotel on wheels, started to surface. The concept, which allows you to roam freely in a cabin whilst en route to your destination, is one that will probably never become a reality. But, now that self-driving cars are here, we need something to fill that Tomorrow's World-shaped hole that has been left behind.
Let us know your own predictions for 2019 and what you expect to see in terms of mobility technology this year.