How will autonomous cars change the luxury car market?

The building blocks of the autonomous car revolution lie in technology and efficiency. Luxury cars hinge on quality and prestige. Can the two coexist?

It’s clear the automotive industry is making autonomous driving a mainstay. By 2020, it’s estimated that there’ll be 10 million autonomous cars on the road, growing to more than 20 million by 2030. But what does that mean for you and the luxury car you’ve had your eye on? Will it still be in circulation by 2030, or will it be booted from the market by its modern cousin?

The evolution of mechanics

The first autonomous, or self-driving cars, appeared in the 1930s – and the movement has grown rapidly. Since then, it’s true that many of the qualities of modern, autonomous cars end up breeding out the much-loved features of traditional varieties.

For example, the deep rumble of a classic engine is silenced by electric-powered counterparts. And the tiered, dynamic gear shifts of manual models are replaced by a smooth, 1-gear acceleration.

The legacy of innovation

The building blocks of this revolution lie in technology, efficiency, and innovation.

However, the pinnacle of previous car evolution lay in luxury – design focused on comfort, high-quality materials and prestige.

It’s easy to think that the legacy of car innovation would clash with the future of the industry, but we’re seeing that the opposite is true. In fact, the world’s leading luxury car brands are paving the way for this new era.

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Luxury meets technology

One example of a luxury car brand running with this revolution, is Audi. They noticed that the silent crawl of their electric cars not only took away from the driver’s experience but posed something of a risk for pedestrian safety. In response, they created Audi e-sound – an expertly produced synthetic engine sound, that’s added to their silent electric cars. Whether or not the artificial hum matches the rumble you know and love is one thing, though it’s proof that tech can certainly mimic luxury. And everyone loves a copycat.

Audi also uses our next-generation navigation, which helps to arm the autonomous tech with as much data as possible. And more data means smarter decisions, making their autonomous models even safer.

The new navigation system includes predictive navigation based on learned driving patterns, enhanced 3D mapping to give more context to the route, and intelligent blocking, which allows the driver to block impassable routes, allowing the system to create an alternative.

The change is here

Mercedes-Benz are even more overt with their intentions to seamlessly fuse autonomy with luxury. One of their future-minded models is the F 015 Luxury in Motion - a shining example of the well-established technology, and the luxury that follows suit.

Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG (a HERE Technologies partner) and Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars, Dr Dieter Zetsche says,

“Anyone who focuses solely on the technology has not yet grasped how autonomous driving will change our society. The car is growing beyond its role as a mere means of transport and will ultimately become a mobile living space.”

The flowing transitions and warm, organic materials of this model’s ‘luxury lounge’, together with the six digital displays that line the interior panels, demonstrate this impressively.

The iNext Level

The release of BMW’s first Level 3 autonomous car – the Vision iNext is another firm step into the future for luxury cars. The company’s head of R&D, Klaus Fröhlich points out that no matter how far the technology moves the brand, the driving experience will always be paramount; “The driver-oriented interior is still at its centre. We invented that.”

Innovation at its best

The car revolution is here, but rather than replacing the old vanguard, the new wave is embracing and elevating the best of the previous eras.

As we’re seeing from the industry’s best, the beauty of innovation is that efficiency can still deliver luxury – just smarter.

Topics: Automotive, Autonomous Cars

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