10 Trends  North American International Auto Shows
Detroit • Chicago 2016

Our design and development team is back from scouting the Detroit and Chicago Auto shows for trends and technologies that stood out among the masses of vehicles. The user experiences, designs and technologies from this parallel transportation industry can inspire innovations for in-flight entertainment and connectivity product development.

 

We are proud to present to you our findings.

 

Agree? Disagree? Want to chat about your next program? Email us or join the conversation on social media.

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Audi

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Lincoln

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Aston Martin

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02 Expressive Front Grilles

Long leveraged by designers to make a strong brand statement, we always take note of some striking grilles.

Lexus LC500

In a sea of hex shaped grilles that pull toward the headlights, Lexus is doing the opposite.

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Touted as a safety feature, the Hyundai Genesis now features a segment-first CO2-level sensor and Air Quality System (AQS) that improves cabin air quality.

01 Sensors & Artificial Intelligence

Smarter vehicles with integrated sensors, cameras and more... The question for designers is should these be hidden in the design or is this a feature to be celebrated and shown off?

The Kia Telluride concept features sensors that monitor vital health stats, including heart rate, which are displayed on LCDs embedded in the door panels.

Mercedes-Benz E-Class features Car-to-X (car to anything) communications, will steer around pedestrians and can be summoned to pull out from a parking space.

The Dodge Challenger doesn't try to hide its adaptive cruise sensor.

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03 Autonomous, On-Demand Vehicles

Will auto makers shift their focus away from selling one car to every person to creating networks of on-demand vehicles?

Toyota iRoad

GM + Lyft > Guangzhou Automobile Group + Uber > Is Ford + Google Next? >
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Cadillac Super Cruise, a self-driving feature on the CT6, has been delayed until 2017

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Toyota FV2

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04 Growth of... The small to Mid-Sized Truck Segment

A huge success for GM, Ford is now rumored to follow by bringing back the Ranger. Work and recreation utility demands are no longer always paired with the need for major horse-power.

Hyundai's first pickup: The Ridgeline

GMC's Canyon boasts the same styling cues and design language as its larger trucks, still appealing to their market with this smaller, more fuel efficient offering.

Toyota's Tacoma has been a staple in the mid-sized truck market

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This pattern has a lot of prairie house influence in the grill, hinting at the art deco era of design.

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This evolving design language also has a lot of art deco details that are evident on the grill area, and are reminiscent of the streamlined trains of the 30's - 40's.

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Will the giant truck category we once saw (Ford Excursion, Hummer H2) ever make a comeback?

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06 Renewable Materials

While high-end luxury car companies have been playing with renewable materials in their designs for several years, we were pleased to see that this trend is now extending from small stylized elements to an overall design philosophy.

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BMW's all electric i3 features a eucalyptus dash

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Ford's display demonstrated renewable materials used in their development

Ford has made a commitment that all seat materials sold in their vehicles in North America will be made with at least 30% recycled content

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08 Color & Finish

There seemed to be a bit of a departure from cool aluminums and silvers and a trend toward warmer titaniums and browns, as well as bright blues. Matte and Gloss finishes were leveraged to contrast and accentuate design.

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05 Vs. Growth of... The Huge, $100,000+ Truck Segment

While certainly targeted for a very niche market, our surprise when coming upon these huge vehicles drove us to take a closer look.

07 Details

Stitching, metal accents and contrast in finishes remain key elements that consumers want and expect.

Faurecia's Bio-Materials Garden demonstrates the bio content used in the company's weight-saving, sustainable materials

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Toyota's Tonka 4Runner Concept is built for adventure

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Volkswagen had a bike rack strapped to their Jetta

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High end, luxury vehicles were also shown equipped

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The KIA PacWest concept features accessories for adventurous travel already incorporated.

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BMW iFuture Concept

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Chevy Bolt

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Mitsubishi i-Miev

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10 Electric

According to a Navigant report, sales of EVs will continue to grow throughout the U.S. over the next decade. The forecast predicts a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) as high as 20.9 percent. EVs are here to stay.

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While we are clearly biased given our PowerPost EVSE product line, we were surprised to see so many cables without cord management, taking away from the clean lines and sharp edges we continually see in the trends of the auto industry. Even with the expansion of inductive charging solutions for the home, the demand for traditional charging stations was obvious at the show and is clearly here to stay for the foreseeable future.

Contributors
Gil Cavada Tom O'Connor Nuno Pires da Silva

My favorite car was the Toyota KIKAI. Its Dr. Suess feel made me feel like a kid again - like anything is possible and you could drive around the world with it.

My favorite car from the show was the Ford GT. This is a true mid-engine American supercar that is an exciting expansion into the performance market. All eyes are still on Chevrolet - will they follow up with a flagship mid-engine Corvette?

As a recent transplant from Portugal, I admired the improvement and quality in all of the American carmakers, but my favorite car was the new Audi Q7. I was most impressed with the way they evolved the design language without compromising what we know as the 'Audi' style.

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09 Accessories

Some automakers accessorized their vehicles to demonstrate their ability to deliver on the lifestyle needs of the family roadtrip and adventure trip market.

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