As we bid farewell to the year that was 2013 and look ahead to 2014, The Car Expert’s superstar guest blogger Rodney J. Pilkington presents the cars and automotive news to look out for, and his predictions for the year ahead…
2014 will see one of the highest-profile automotive battles ever to be waged, as three of the most amazing supercars ever created hit the streets. The Ferrari La Ferrari, McLaren P1 and Porsche 918 Spyder are all state-of-the-art hybrid supercars, combining screaming petrol engines with electric boost systems. Whilst they may be entirely irrelevant to most motorists, bragging rights for the world’s ultimate hypercar are very important to these prestigious brands. Expect auto makers to come out with powerful automotive industry branding to set themselves apart from their competitors. Automotive websites and marketing will be paramount.
German Civil War
If you thought the Germans take themselves too seriously, you should see how seriously they take their internal rivalries. Three of the world’s automotive heavyweights will continue their ongoing stoush in 2014, with supporting acts from a couple of others. Mercedes-Benz will launch its all-new C-Class saloon, GLA small 4×4, S-Class coupé and V-Class MPV models. BMW will have its radical new i8 electric supercar, 4 Series convertible, X4 4×4,2 Series coupé, convertible and Active Tourer models. Audi is expected to introduce a new A4 saloon and estate, A5 coupé, TT sports car, Q7 large 4×4 and R8 supercar. Porsche has a new Macan 4×4 to cash in on the burgeoning premium SUV market, and Volkswagen will add a new Taigun small 4×4 (nope, not Tiguan, but a smaller vehicle with an anagram version of its name). Plus there will be facelifts and updates to the dozens of vehicles that the manufacturers all already have on sale.
GM’s battle to survive
General Motors was, for decades, the world’s largest and most powerful car manufacturer. Today it is a shadow of its former self, and although it has emerged from US Chapter 11 bankruptcy, it is still struggling to manage its global empire. In recent weeks, it has announced that it will close Holden’s production facilities in Australia; it will withdraw its largest brand, Chevrolet, from Europe; it is cutting jobs in South Korea; and is selling its stake in PSA (Peugeot-Citroën) despite previously considering a buyout of the French brands. The departure of Chevrolet from Europe is said to allow GM to concentrate on its Vauxhall and Opel brands, which are struggling to compete with Volkswagen, Ford et al. The plan is that by swinging the axe so ferociously in 2014, it can save the core businesses. Only time will tell.
Halo models to shine brightly
Car manufacturers love a good halo model to shine a positive light over the rest of the range, and there’ll be more to come in 2014. Alfa Romeo will start delivering its gorgeous new 4C coupé; Jaguar will launch the coupé version of the new F-Type; Ford has revealed its all-new Mustang muscle car, which will be imported to Europe for the first time; Honda is expected to show a production version of its long-awaited new NSX supercar; and Audi should show us its new R8. The plan is that the reflected glory of these machines will boost sales of the regular models in their ranges.
It’s still not easy being green
Unless you’ve been ignoring automotive news for the last few months, you’ll have seen that BMW is pushing its new i3 electric city car very hard and that its i8 electric supercar will arrive in 2014. Audi has re-activated its R8 e-tron supercar project and has been pumping its yet-to-arrive A3 e-tron on TV for ages.Mercedes-Benz is expected to launch its B-Class Electric Drive as well. But ask those who have EV models on sale already, and they’ll tell you that the public is still yet to embrace the battery revolution. Can the marketing might of Audi and BMW drag EV sales up by their power cables? It’ll be a big ask.
Formula 1 predictions for 2014
Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull will probably win the 2014 championships; Martin Whitmarsh will finally lose his job after another year of McLaren not winning a title; Ferrari will once again be disappointed ; Mercedes-AMG will hire another 200 people and still not beat Red Bull; Marussia and Caterham will once again fail to trouble the scorers in 2014; Bernie and his banker mates will continue to suck the sport dry despite teams being broke; and Pirelli will continue to cop the blame for F1 being unable to work out a set of regulations that allow proper racing.
Better late than never
After a mammoth twelve years on sale, the Volvo XC90 4×4 will finally be replaced by an all-new model in 2014. Ford will probably get around to launching the twice-delayed new Mondeo, only a couple of years later than intended. Lamborghini has pensioned off the Gallardo and will unveil its replacement, the Huracan. And Alfa Romeo may, just may, get around to revealing a car or two from its long-promised new model line in 2014 (maybe the Giulia saloon and a mid-size SUV).
The unstoppable premium SUV juggernaut
It’s only a passing fad, they said. There’s no sustainable market for expensive 4×4 models which never go off road, they said. People will get fed up with SUV-type vehicles which cost more, drive worse and use a lot more fuel and are more difficult to park than regular cars, they said. Well, a decade or so after those stunning predictions, the automotive world is awash with 4×4 behemoths of various price tags and off-roading abilities. 2014 will see the Mercedes-Benz GLA, Maserati Levante, BMW X4 and X6, Audi Q7, Volvo XC90, Porsche Macan, Land Rover Freelander replacement, Volkswagen Taigun, Range Rover Long Wheelbase, unnamed Bentley SUV, unnamed Jaguar SUV and probably countless others, either in full production or concept forms. When even Rolls-Royce and Lamborghini are planning 4×4 models, it’s officially more than a passing fad.
Hello? Hello? We’re still here, you know
In other news, there is no interesting news from SEAT, Lexus, Peugeot, Chrysler, Mitubishi, Renault, Suzuki, Toyota or Infiniti expected in 2014. When any of them builds an interesting car, we’ll let you know (actually, the Toyota GT86 is fantastic, but that’s probably because it was designed by Subaru).
What cars are you most looking forward to in 2014? Let us know in the comments below, or hop over to the forums for a chat!