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Old 01-03-2022, 06:08 AM   #1
Scooby Guru
Member#: 73805
Join Date: Nov 2004
Default AutoCar Predictions For 2022


It's never easy to predict what will happen in the automotive industry, but when you also have to factor in the effects of an ongoing global pandemic and worldwide semiconductor shortage, and it's really anyone's guess as to how the next twelve months will unfold.

That hasn't stopped our writers from taking a stab at it, though. Here are their predictions, plus a list of things you should try and do yourself in 2022.

Our predictions for 2022

The last few car firms yet to do so will set all-electrified deadlines

Just eight years until you can no longer go out and buy a new car that does the whole ‘suck, squeeze, bang, blow’ thing – and many car firms have already pledged to stop building them. But we’re still waiting to hear when some industry giants, including BMW, Toyota, Nissan and Land Rover, will make the switch to all-electric line-ups, so 2022 could bring a flurry of announcements.

The Emira will kick-start a resurgence for Lotus

How many times have we heard that before? Just how many false dawns have there been for Lotus? On how many occasions have we predicted that this time it will be different? For decades the future of Hethel’s answer to Maranello has hung in the balance, each new model launched, or each fresh boss installed at the helm being the one that will steer the brand away from the last-chance saloon. And yet this time the shoots of recovery really do look permanent – and for proof you need only look to the new Emira.

Yes, the all-electric, 2000bhp Evija has been stealing the headlines, but that’s a £2 million plaything that’ll be built in button numbers. The Emira, on the other hand, is the real deal.

It looks the part for a start, while the mechanical specification – aluminium construction, double-wishbone suspension all-round and the option of a howling V6 engine – and the price (slated to start at a Porsche Cayman-baiting £59,995) all point to it being the finest Norfolk newbie since the Elise stole our hearts in 1996.

Yes, at 1405kg it weighs more than you’d expect from a Lotus, but it should be light enough to deliver the delicately honed dynamics we demand, yet with enough heft to tempt buyers more used to hewn- from-solid Porsches. Plus it’s packed with the user-friendly features and tech that will make for a machine you will drive every day, not just high days and holidays. Coupled with cash from parent firm Geely, the future is looking bright.

How bright? Well, for years we’ve all uttered that time-honoured Lotus acronym: Lots of Trouble, Usually Serious. But now, thanks to the Emira and Geely, let’s hope it can be changed to Lots of Thrills, Usually Sensational.

Electric car sales will grow another 50%

The calculators are still being hammered, but it looks like electric cars will account for just over 10% of all new car registrations in 2021, representing a rise of nearly 60% year on year.

That’s both impressive and ahead of expectations, driven by a greater choice of vehicles and a greater focus on switching to EVs since the 2030 ban on new combustion- engined car sales sharpened minds.

Analysts predict similar growth next year, crucially taking EVs to around 14% of the market as diesel shrinks to 12%. That will be a hugely symbolic moment, and all the more remarkable for the fact that supply constraints are throttling the electric car market. Add in plug-in hybrids – this year about 7% of the market, next year around 8% – and you swiftly reach a point where more than one in five registrations will be electrified. If this growth is maintained, the 2030 cut-off could be a non-event.

Battery prices will stop dropping and start rising

At the end of 2021, if car makers hadn’t seen enough trouble, the price of lithium rocketed. According to Bench Mark Mineral Intelligence, the price of ‘battery-grade lithium carbonate’ shot up by 300% to nearly $29,000 per tonne. Prices are expected to continue rising.

Those increases will be passed onto car makers and then customers between 2022 and 2024 as the supply of suitable lithium remains ‘tight’. To make matters worse, Japanese business newspaper Nikkei said the price of cobalt jumped 60% in 2021 over 2020. However, Congo, one of the main suppliers, is politically unstable and suffers from accusations of child labour. As a result, a number of companies are seeking to eliminate cobalt from the construction of batteries. Nissan says it will reduce the cobalt mix to 10% of the electrode’s make-up in the new Ariya batteries, and Panasonic is working to build a 5% cobalt-positive electrode.

Intensive development of cobalt-free lithium iron phosphate batteries is also under way, possibly with the addition of future solid-state electrodes.

With luck, this new and potentially cheaper battery chemistry will arrive in time for 2025, when the EU’s fleet CO2 laws demand an even greater share of new-car EV sales.

Chinese car firms will make major ground in Europe

Geneva 2019 was full of Chinese brands with eyes on Europe, yet in 2021 only Lynk&Co’s 01 is available (but not in the UK) while Nio and BYD are selling in Norway.

But things are set to change, with Great Wall’s Wey Coffee 01 SUV going on European sale in 2022.

Global car firms will break up to attract investors

It has been the year of the great merger, as PSA took over Fiat Chrysler Automobiles to form the 14-brand behemoth Stellantis. The rationale was synergies from drivetrain and platform sharing, but 2022 could be the year of the big break-up.

Big car groups tend to be unloved by investors, so why not spin off and list brands that are the most profitable or which promise EV disruption, and profit from some of that eco gloss?

What Daimler has done with trucks, might the Volkswagen Group do with Porsche? Will JLR spin off Jaguar pegged around an electric future? There could be another reason for spin- offs: Volkswagen wouldn’t sign the COP26 pledge to stop selling ICE cars by 2040, but Ford and GM did. A bit embarrassing for a firm seen at the vanguard of EVs, but VW is still heavily invested in markets that will shift to electric a lot later. With Skoda in charge of platforms for emerging markets, however, why not spin off the Czech firm, sign the pledge and burnish your eco credentials? Expect a lot more brand repositioning of the ESG – environmental, social and governance – variety.

Snythetic fuels will become a 'thing'

You don’t need a crystal ball to know that 2022 will be a big year for synthetic fuels. Porsche and its technical partner Siemens have already revealed that their facility in Chile will start producing its fossil-fuel substitute.

The case for e-fuels has been made before, but it’s hard not to see the appeal. They offer an 85% reduction in CO2 over petrol and diesel and are a plug-and-play solution for the existing infrastructure. Does this mean the end of the EV revolution, though? Not quite. Even synthetic fuel cheerleaders reckon we’re 20 years away from widespread adoption, but it does mean the internal combustion engine is likely to be around for quite a while yet.

More manufacturers will drop diesels as demand declines

Diesel car sales are in a tailspin and they are not going to recover. A shift in demand means many cars for which a diesel engine was the predominant choice will soon be offered without the option. The ‘dirty diesel’ mantra is driving the change, and the mainstream slide is the most striking.

In October, SMMT figures show diesel demand crashed by two-thirds to just 15% of cars sold, while sales of EVs and hybrids accounted for a burgeoning 20% of UK sales. In particular, private buyers are shunning diesels, although some fleets still see advantages. But the disappearance of diesel cars can only be a matter of time.

The EV maker share price bubble will burst

At the time of writing, Tesla was valued at around $1.2 trillion. That is, you don’t need to be told, quite a lot. In fact, Tesla is worth as much as the next nine biggest car manufacturers in the world combined. Which is quite something, given that Tesla’s sales are still dwarfed by the likes of Toyota, Ford and Volkswagen.

And it’s not just Tesla: EV start-ups Rivian and Lucid were each valued at more than $80 billion after floating on the stock market, making them worth more than the VW Group. While shares are only ever worth as much as people are willing to pay for them, such values seem unsustainable. Those who recall the early 2000s dot-com bubble bursting are predicting something similar for EVs. At some point investors must value a car’s production output, rather than its potential.

Jaguar will reveal plans for its EV reinventions

It’s inconceivable that Jaguar can go on much longer without giving a clearer idea of its change-everything product intentions and design style for 2025 and beyond. All we know is that the British marque aims to prosper on a much-reduced range, all EVs and with no SUVs or existing saloons. But no company in recent history has prospered from such a total removal of its sense of continuity.

It needs to be replaced by something, though, and as a matter of urgency. The time-honoured way of providing a vision of the future – and of inspiring potential owners – has been by the creation of a highly relevant concept, or even a series. Jaguar’s previous new brooms, design bosses Ian Callum and Julian Thomson, who arrived at the end of the 1990s, were heralded by the unveiling of the graceful R-Coupé (2001) and compact RD6 (2003). But both men and some of their key acolytes have now left and Jaguar’s current management has dismantled their plans.

Nine months have elapsed since CEO Thierry Bolloré announced he was ditching the XJ saloon (and, without ever officially saying as such, the premium-priced J-Pace SUV that shared the platform) at a cost of £1 billion. That car had been earmarked as the marque’s future flagship, but Bolloré’s team decided it would not achieve their aim of leading on technology and design.

Jaguar’s own past timetable suggests that they show a concept like the C-XF (precursor of the seminal XF) broadly a year before the production launch. But in this case, with three years to run, there’s a bigger, broader job to be done. We predict actions in 2022.

Beige, khaki grey-green and dark grey will be the on-trend colours in 2022

In recent years, grey followed by black and then white have been car buyers’ favourite colours. However, while grey has been soaring away, black and white have been losing ground. Could khaki grey-green, dark grey and even beige (don’t take the name too literally) be about to replace them in buyers’ affections? Paint maker BASF certainly thinks so.

Softer, more natural and less assertive, the three colours are more in tune with the shift to electric cars and buyers’ environmental awareness, it reckons. Volvo and Polestar’s colour palette includes hints of them and ‘greener’ shades in general, as does emerging trend-setter Hyundai’s.

The 'agency model' will become a buzz phrase among retailers

In distilled form, the ‘agency model’ signals car manufacturers rather than car dealers managing the purchase of a new car – most likely at a fixed price – and the dealer will then facilitate the handover. Mercedes-Benz, DS and Jeep look set to lead the way with this Tesla-like shift aimed at boosting both profit margins and customer satisfaction, but it remains to be seen if car makers really can hit volume targets without price cutting.

More people than ever will take their driving test in an automatic

The tide is turning against the manual gearbox. Sales of automatics have been rising for years, but the surge in EV sales is encouraging learners to give their left leg a rest. In 2015, around 45,000 of 700,000 test passes were in a self-shifter; in 2020, that rose to80,000.Testbacklogsmake2021hardto judge, but 2022 should see auto test passes hit 100,000. The writing is on the wall for the manual ’box.

It will be uncool to drive a diesel

While it’s not the demon fuel many have made it out to be, diesel has become a target for campaigners hoping to reduce the environmental impact of personal transport – or, at the very least, to get us to trade in emissions-belching models for cleaner EVs. Will having a TDI, CDI or EcoBlue badge on the back of your car become the motoring equivalent of wearing a real fur coat? Protesters probably won’t be hurling buckets of red paint your way just yet, but their voices are going to get louder.

Haggling will gradually disappear from showrooms

Haggling won’t die out altogether in 2022, but it’s definitely on its way out. Of course, the opportunity to flex your bargaining skills with dealers was severely limited in 2021 as the chip shortage killed much of the discounts for those cars that were available, but the move by car makers to sell directly to customers in themanner of Tesla will end the practice forever. The switch to the so-called ‘agency model’ (see above) sets a price online and at the dealer, who won’t now get to set the final transaction price. A number of car makers are keen. Expect others to follow.

The tide is set to turn against SUVs

Okay, this is a bit of a punt given the velocity of the marketplace, but surely the moment is coming when the contradiction between everyone rushing to buy bigger, heavier, less aerodynamic cars and the need to cut emissions for the health of both humans and the planet crystallises?

The statistics now are nuts: reports by environmental groups suggest that 75% of SUVs are bought by people living exclusively in towns and cities, the very areas where the problems of pollution are most acute. From the driver’s seat it may all make perfect sense (although even that is debatable given that their prevalence means they now bestow no real visibility benefits), but even hypocrites have to look in the mirror eventually.

Mitigations? Frankly, there are very few, although the argument that electric cars are inherently better packaged as high-riders holds some sway, given the designers’ need to factor in a chunky battery pack, and the environment will be better protected by car makers replacing must-have combustion cars with must-have electric designs. Even then it’s hard not to conclude that a once-in-a-generation shift warrants some freshness of thought rather than rehashing a well-worn groove to play to the crowd. The glaring if uncomfortable truth here is that customers need to think harder and car designers need to try harder – and both sides need to stop blaming each other for leading them on. For most, although far from all, applications, the SUV is a farce. And the joke is on us all.

More car makers will offer de-specced models in a bid to avoid the supply crisis

In August, Ford launched a couple of short-lived, de-specced cars in response to the semiconductor crisis. It no longer offers any temporarily spec-lite cars, but Volvo does. On certain models, some multi-sensor features that were standard are now options. They include the XC60’s 360deg surround-view camera – now £525. Elsewhere, Suzuki is importing 4000 cars without infotainment and sourcing and fitting it in the UK instead. We expect more such workarounds, so to avoid any nasty surprises when you sell, be sure you know what kit your new car lacks or how it differs from standard.

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