Predicting the future is always a tall order – as election pollsters know all too well. Having said that, trends in fashion are a bit different from trends in politics, as are trends in car tech and modification. Here we take a predictive look at a few of the emerging car trends for the next year, and aim for a sneak peek into what might become possible in the next decade. Buckle up, it’s quite the ride!

In a TRICE

TRICE stands for TRack Inspired Cosmetic Enhancements, and it could be the next big thing. It includes aerodynamic modifications like ducktail spoilers and non-functional canards for that slick, speedy look. It’s turned up on several production cars in the last few years, like the Mercedes C63 AMG Black, and the BMW M3 GTS. Keep an eye out for rally-specced Subarus and Evos too.

Back to Stock

One interesting thing highlighted at the recent SEMA show was just how many vehicles sported similar, unoriginal tuning, like riveted fender flares. Does this mean that there’ll be a trend that is actually the reverse of modifying your vehicle: actually reverting a modified car back to stock? Time will tell.

She’s Electric

Tuning electric vehicles is still very new – as are electric vehicles themselves. As yet, tuning has yet to improve performance, but it can definitely tweak the aesthetics. And old school aesthetics blended with modern technology can produce fantastic hybrids like a fully-electric DeLorean. It’s back to the future in every sense.

Loud and Bright

Of course, one issue with electric cars is that it’s hard to hear them coming, so manufacturers may end up installing external speakers that play acceleration sounds to warn unwary pedestrians. And if you’re going to do that, why not go the whole hog: early 2000s rice like neon underglow, huge spoilers and vinyl graphics might be making a return. Throw in some tire lettering, and it’s like you never left high school.

Strong and Tough

Improving car body work so that impacts can be more easily be absorbed is a key goal of manufacturers like Volvo, as part of their mission to stop anyone dying in their cars by 2020. Car frames will get stronger as materials develop, and stud welding services will also adapt to new standards.

Smart Headlights

Now we start to get into the fun tech stuff. Volvo is piloting new technology that makes your headlights swivel as you turn the wheel, so that you can see more of the road. And Audi has some experimental high beams that avoid blinding oncoming drivers. Also, with LEDs beginning to enter the mass market, models like the Ford Focus will soon start to come with LED lights only seen on luxury models a few years ago.

Look, No Hands!

Headlights aren’t the only thing that will become computer-controlled: high-speed motorway driving, for example in Tesla’s autopilot system, is actually easy to automate compared with complex city manoeuvres. Think of it as an update to cruise control, just with the addition of radar so that your car can see other vehicles on the road and then hand control over to the computer. Impressive stuff.

Parking is Such Sweet Sorrow

Parking can be hard work at the best of times, especially in heavy traffic. Many cars nowadays come with a variety of sensors and cameras that help you to get the car parked successfully, but both BMW and Mercedes are set to launch their own parking services in 2017, where you can park your car with just a touch of the throttle.

Far Out: Beyond 2017

So what about future trends? Tesla’s autopilot is a good precursor of things to come in the automation department, and Bosch has also demonstrated its prowess in this arena with traffic jam assist technology, due 2018. This makes gridlock under 35 miles per hour slightly less unbearable. Fast forward to 2021, and the first production self-driving vehicle should be for sale, according to luminary Elon Musk and companies like Ford and Google. Driver-assist features and connectivity will be dramatically improved, and cars would be able to communicate with one another to make decisions such as swerving to avoid an accident based on information from a vehicle further ahead. So it’s an exciting road ahead in the car world!