Some suggested New Year's resolutions for car companies in 2016. The times are changing. Don't get left in the dust.
Simplify: Don't bother drivers with prompts and options. Make high-tech gadgets smart enough to operate themselves, and easy to switch off.
Fun: Instead of focusing on Nurburgring lap times and max power, make cars that are fun to drive at any speed. Mazda proved it can be done – and on a budget – with the latest MX-5. We don't have autobahns in Canada; we have traffic and potholes and police. We shouldn't have to double the speed limit for a car to make us smile.
Services: Don't be afraid of car-sharing services. Create your own. Offer all types of vehicles. Make it easy and convenient.
Interfaces: Why are they so bad? Steering wheels and pedals work well. But auto makers have had a century to perfect those. Almost everything else needs work. Touchscreens are still horrifically bad, even though Apple is on iPhone 6. Screens are fiddly, ugly and often distracting: Why not try designing them with drivers in mind? Audi's "virtual cockpit" is headed in the right direction.
Wagons: My parents need a new wagon. A real one, not jacked-up like an SUV. Maybe a mid-size. Make one with all-wheel drive and an optional stick-shift and you'll have their business. Would someone please build one? Subaru? Volvo? Anybody?
Connectivity: Don't say it. It doesn't mean anything. Or, rather, it means different things to everyone. So be specific. If you mean Bluetooth, say that. If you mean you can send maps to your car via Google or car-to-car communication – come up with a snappy name for it.
"Sporty" SUVs: For the love of … just stop it. I know, people out there keep buying them so you keep building them. Can we get over these already?
Electric cars: Stop showing concepts and telling us you'll build one by the end of the decade. Do it now. Tesla's Model S is getting old. There's room to make something better, to move the game forward.
Trim: How about something other than black seats and black plastic? More options would be welcome. You know we'd pay for it. Caramel-coloured leather and quilted stitching and pleated fabric and plaid and burgundy and grey wool. Cars don't need to be so drab and serious. But please, no more carbon-fibre trim, okay?
Hi-Fi: We spend more time than ever in traffic. Every car, no matter the price point, should offer the option of a killer stereo so we can enjoy Spotify or hear the latest episode of Serial.
Climate change: World leaders from 196 countries signed a monumental agreement at the recent United Nations summit in Paris, agreeing to limit emissions with the goal of capping warming to 2C with an aspirational target of 1.5C. Climate change can no longer be denied or shrugged off. For car companies, make 2016 the year you take a progressive stand on climate change. Do not cheat, do not lie, work with the rest of the world to limit global warming. Do this, and consumers will reward you with business.
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