We’re officially living in the future. Cars are driving themselves. The internal combustion engine is going the way of the steam engine. Supercars belong to the past, replaced by hybrid hypercars. On the surface at least, 2017 promises to look a lot like 2016 with brand new crossovers, SUVs, and compact cars. But lurking on the horizon, the future is here with electric cars, and high performance machines that belong in science fiction.
Around the time you were stuffing your face with noche buena this 2016, Google’s self-driving car project quietly changed its name to Waymo. More than just a change of name, it’s a statement of intent, and clarifies what Google is trying to do in the automotive space. Google—or Waymo, if you will—says they are building a “safer driver,” and plan to make their self-driving cars available to the public in 2020. Expect more details to come out in 2017, but so far we know the Waymo cars have no steering wheel and look totally adorable. Totally Googly. Waymo-ey?
Meanwhile, not content with disrupting the way we get a ride in our cities, Uber is also jumping on the driverless car, er, wagon. Google/Waymo has a bit of a headstart with 2 million kilometers on its self-driving odometer, and Uber is playing catch up, but the ride-sharing company is still in a unique position to make our driverless future a reality.
Driverless cars are cool and all, but in 2017, you’ll probably still be in the driver’s seat… of a crossover. Expect the dominance of crossovers to continue in the new year. With the price of oil promising to stay low, there’s no reason why we can’t all spend a little more for gas with crossovers and SUVs. Plus with more fuel efficient cars, you can have the best of both worlds. Speaking of fuel efficiency, Mazda’s CX-5, with its super fuel-efficient SkyActiv tech, is making a comeback in 2017. We’re also digging the Chevrolet Trax and the new Ford Escape.
Crossovers may dominate, but if you’ve got the money to burn, there are plenty of high performance cars that will be released in the Philippine market. On the top of this wishlist are new versions of the Toyota 86 (despite losing a few horses under the hood) and its brother-from-another-mother, the Subaru BRZ. The 2017 Subaru Impreza built on an all-new platform is also looking pretty hot.
Tesla’s Model 3 caused quite a stir when it was unveiled in early 2016 with its USD35,000 price tag, 215 mile range, all-glass roof, and unbelievable performance. (At that price, going from zero to 60 in 6 seconds sounds like traveling to the moon on jeepney fare.) Deliveries of the Model 3 will begin in the end of 2017. Even though Elon Musk says Tesla is trying to speed up production of the Model 3, it’s unlikely that we’ll see Tesla dealerships in our islands anytime soon, but hey, you can buy a Lamborghini here, so you never know.
The next most likely electric car to go mainstream is the Chevrolet Volt. The 2017 version features a 20% boost in battery capacity. Though it’s a hybrid car, you can drive it on a single charge for 53 miles (85 kilometers). The future of electric cars in the Philippines is a big question mark, but if there’s one hybrid that should come here, this is probably it.
What do we know about the rumored Apple Car? Not much. The as-yet unconfirmed car, which may or may not be Apple’s Project Titan, has been called “obvious” and an “open secret” by Tesla’s Elon Musk. Many signs point to an Apple car being real: Apple has hired former Tesla employees, they are shopping around for an automotive testing facility, and they’ve been spotted talking to companies that can help them build a car, as well as California’s DMV. Rumors also point to a 2020 launch date, which is pretty close in the automotive timescale. Could 2017 be the year when we find out the truth about the Apple car?
The Usual Suspects
Don’t hold your breath for the Apple Car. No worries though, 2017 has got you covered. Everyone loves the Honda CR-V, and there’s a new turbo version coming to town. Also, there’s the Honda WR-V crossover, which is like the Honda Jazz after six-months of doing cross-fit. If compact cars are more your thing, the new Hyundai i10 is likely to deliver plenty to love for not a lot of money with a new infotainment system, and there’s a new sleek and sexy Suzuki Swift.