What will the new year bring? The Drive Team stare into the magic cauldron to predict what lies along ahead for the next 365 days!
Will this be the year of the properly affordable EV? The year more ‘new’ brands break through? Or just a year when your long-awaited car arrives?
There are plenty of changes happening across the automotive landscape, but will any of this driving future become driving fact?
The Drive Team share their thoughts…
It’s going to be a big year, and avoiding ‘company talk’ of even more TV, more improvements to the site, and of course, a lot more brilliant content production (big and small), I think we’ll see a few big changes in our local market.
The normalisation of electrification will see more hybrid systems (mild and closed loop) filter across popular vehicle segments, and we’ll see even more full electric options hit the showrooms for consumers.
Buyers will better understand the benefits and challenges of an electric choice, and we’ll see far more demand at the ‘lower’ end of the EV spectrum as people choose a cheap(ish) EV as an urban partner to a more traditional large SUV or 4×4 to form the new Australian two-car garage.
That wont slow our love affair with utes though, which will continue to top sales charts, but I think we’ll see stronger activity from the more value-oriented brands and models as rising costs push some of the high-price range-toppers outside many household budgets.
My tip here, if you’re in the market for a Ford Ranger Raptor, Toyota LandCruiser 300 Series or new Range Rover Sport, is to stay close to your local dealer as we’ll see a number of ‘spendier’ vehicles fall victim to cancelled orders as prospective buyer priorities change.
I’m mostly looking forward to testing out the long-awaited Ineos Grenadier next year.
It’s a new vehicle with an old soul, and promises to sing from a completely different hymn sheet. It won’t be for everyone in many respects (things like comfort, safety and technology), but will be the perfect choice for a small, welded-on fan base.
Some will decry it for simply being a warmed-up copy of the old Land Rover Defender, but I kind of see that as a compliment.
One of the most exciting launches for 2023 is the Cupra Born – the first purely-electric car sold in Australia by a Volkswagen Group brand. It has a claimed 0-100km/h time of 7.0 seconds – a time on par with hot hatches from a decade ago – as well as a claimed range of 511km, and both the exterior and interior look very, very sharp.
If Cupra Australia can keep the price of it at a reasonable level when it launches in the first half of 2023, it should be a winner.
Electric cars for ordinary people. Look, I love how the age of electrification has pushed the boundaries of tech and design, each successive carmaker cramming their EV offerings with features that make you not only exclaim ‘wow’, but also ‘why?’.
Cutting-edge design, in terms of cabins and technology, is cool and all, but it comes at a price. And it’s a price out of reach for ordinary people like you and me.
And if you think there’s no appetite for cheap EVs, think again. Earlier this year, Nissan released the Sakura, a cutesy electric Kei car priced at around ¥2.4million, or around $AUD26,000. It sold out in months, with Nissan no longer taking orders as wait times blow out to over a year.
Nissan took in 23,000 orders for the tiny little car with a 20kWh battery pack and a driving range of just 180km. That order book is greater than the entire number of EVs sold in Japan in 2021.
Sure, 180km of range might not suit everybody, but I’d wager there are an awful lot of people living in urban environments where 180km would cover their weekly needs and then some. That it is, in the scheme of EVs, affordable for the average person, is just icing on the cake.
Hand on heart, I would buy a $26k EV with 180km of range today if one became available locally.
Freeway self-driving: Don’t shoot me, I still love driving cars. I moved to a CBD satellite city in 2022, so my commute has ballooned from 25 minutes to 90 minutes on a good day. I’m looking forward to a time when I and all other freeway drivers can hand over the freeway commute to a benevolent Skynet, for three main reasons.
- Our post-Covid Work-From-Anywhere business model means I will be able to log on in the car and do emails, write articles, attend virtual meetings and more, all while the car does the commute for me.
- Because of this, I will no longer need to leave home at 6.45am to be ‘at my desk’ by 8.30am. I can leave home at 8.20am and be ‘on the job’ at 8.30. It also means I can leave the office at 4pm, work the 90 minutes home and clock off at 5.30 to be a parent before the boys hit the sack.
- I also suspect that once we all submit to Good-not-Evil-Skynet, lane chopping will stop, as will phantom braking, poor freeway etiquette and all other driving misdemeanours that contribute to traffic jams on our major arterials, so the trip may actually be quicker.
Less diesel and more EV’s. Having said that, I’m eager to see various newcomers, especially a number of cheaper vehicles from China that will hopefully make the marketplace more competitive.
Charging infrastructure is always a hot topic but there isn’t enough! With the uptake of EVs growing in Australia, we’re expecting to see a large rollout of charging stations across the country. Let’s be honest, there has to be. NSW alone has promised 500 new fast chargers across the state.
With the federal government making commitments to infrastructure and EV incentives, 2023 could be the year that Australian’s really embrace going electric.
Unfortunately, I don’t see a lot of reprieve for chip shortages or supply issues in 2023.
There doesn’t seem to ever be a year when I’m not looking forward to a hot hatch or sports coupe. In 2023 this is no different. The old Honda Civic Type R was one of the sharpest and most fun hot hatches, be it on a race track or public roads. Unfortunately, it was always a little too wild to look at.
While it won’t suit all tastes, the new Civic Type R looks a million bucks, with its svelte new exterior and much more subtle sports styling. Under the bonnet, the same beating heart and handling package – with some minor tweaks – ensure this new Type R should be a sure-fire hit.
I cannot wait to see how the sphere of alternative fuels develops. As a car lover I’ve been nervously watching how sports cars will adapt in the age of electrification, but it might not turn out to be a problem with the advent of new fuels.
Porsche has invested huge amounts of time and effort in establishing its claim to synthetic fuels, and even Toyota is experimenting with an internal combustion engine powered by hydrogen. It sounds great, too.
They’re still expensive compared to internal combustion engine vehicles, but we’re starting to make some headway towards price parity.
Imagine a world where newly-licensed 18-year-olds were able to spend their savings on an EV as a first car, rather than a six-year-old Corolla?
There are lots of great new cars headed for Australia next year – Cupra Born, Kia EV6 GT, Ineos Grenadier, Toyota GR Corolla, Volkswagen Amarok, et cetera – but I reckon one really has the potential to make waves: the MG 4.
If what we’ve seen in government approval documents holds true, this electric car might launch in an entry-level spec with 350km of range and a modest electric motor – which, with the right balance of standard features, could make it a $40,000 drive-away car.
That’s not far off the price of a top-of-the-range Toyota Corolla, Hyundai i30 and Kia Cerato, and line-ball with a Volkswagen Golf – for a smartly-styled, decently-sized electric car. This could be a hit.
About the artwork
Something else that rose rapidly in 2022 was the advent of using artificial intelligence (AI) as a tool to create ‘imagined’ artworks.
All the images in this article were created by AI (using the Midjourney App) based on some basic description parameters. As you can tell, the artificial elements are still more dominant than the intelligent ones, with some wacky detail elements visible once you ask the AI to enhance an image.
Some of the visualisations are pretty cool though.
In order down the page, the AI requests were:
- future car in australia
- cheap and basic electric car in the city
- new Ineos Grenadier driving off-road in the jungle
- hot hatch electric car Cupra Born at racetrack
- cheap electric car SUV
- driverless car on a freeway
- electric cars in a vending machine
- cyberpunk Honda Civic Type R
- future racing Porsche refuelling at Le Mans
- electric cars at charging station
- electric car MG4