Of course, some of these New Year's resolutions will seem a bit far-fetched later in the day when the alcohol fumes will have evaporated (drinking less alcohol is also a great resolution), so it's time to find out if there were any witnesses when you proudly proclaimed everything you were going change about yourself in 2022.
While resolutions do work best for individuals and less so for collective entities, especially those as heterogeneous and competitive as the automotive industry, that doesn't mean we can't make a list of what we wish the carmakers would change about themselves and their products, starting with 2022. Or as soon as possible. Here is mine, but if you'd like to add something, feel free to do it in the comments section at the bottom of the page.
#1 Collectively decide on a single next type of propulsion and make it perfectly clear to the public.
Whether it's battery-powered electric vehicles (BEVs), hydrogen-powered fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs), the continuation of gas-powered internal combustion engines, synthetic fuels, or virgin tears, we're at the point where I don't really care anymore - all I want is for the industry to agree and launch a cohesive strategy to make the switch easier for all of us. That means everyone pulling in the same direction with complete transparency (as much as a competitive market allows) in an effort to develop a standardized new infrastructure, provided the future powertrain requires it.
#2 Get rid of the fake exhaust tips.
If BEVs win the race, this problem might solve itself, but don't be too quick to bet on it. Would you really be that surprised if some manufacturer decided to place a few pieces of trim reminiscent of a tailpipe at the back of an EV, just to "make the transition easier for the ICE customer?" They do use fake engine sound, so why not this as well?
#3 Find the right balance between physical buttons and touch-screen controls.
Whether it's Android or iOS, we all love interacting with our smartphones using the very intuitive user interface most devices have these days. Car infotainment systems, however, are a different proposition. Despite long-lasting opposition from some brands (mainly thinking of BMW's iDrive here), large touch screens seem to have won, but there's a big difference between removing physical buttons for the infotainment system controls and removing all physical buttons altogether.
The haptic response you get from touching a button/dial can't be reproduced by a virtual button on a screen, and when you're driving, that's the only way you can perform certain actions without taking your eyes off the road. Tesla is pushing for a centralized command hub in one single display, but we honestly hope the more balanced approach will prevail eventually. Let's hope Tesla's latest update that messes around with the user interface and moves certain important commands behind several menus will serve as a wake-up call for the entire industry.
#4 Take public testing of self-driving-wannabe systems more seriously.
Well, it seems like we're going to be playing Elon Musk's game and talk about Tesla once more, even if it's not going to be in a positive manner this time either.
Authorities definitely need to look at how much freedom they allow the manufacturers when it comes to their advanced driver's assistance systems, and whatever decision they make, it should be with the public's safety in mind and not technological progress. Their duty isn't to advance AI; it's to protect the people who invested them with that authority in the first place, so they better man-up (or whatever the politically correct term is these days) and do the right thing. It's as simple as that.
#5 Stop trying to come up with shocking designs just for the sake of it and keep the aesthetics clean and simple.
Once again, you can point your finger at Tesla and its all-electric pickup truck, the Cybertruck, but this time it wouldn't be entirely fair. For starters, all other Tesla models have reasonably conventional designs, and then there's the fact he Cybertruck isn't actually on sale yet. Besides, it's not like other carmakers have covered themselves in glory when it comes to the appearance of their latest products.
We can probably all agree that BMW is going through a bit of an existential crisis right now that makes the Bangle era seem like an apogee of class and elegance, which is something that seemed utterly impossible at the time. And sadly, the Bavarians are not alone in their wrongly-directed efforts to stand out.
What I would like to see is an approach that focuses less on shock and more on beauty. Yes, the latter is indeed famously in the eye of the beholder, but isn't there a higher chance that more people will buy your cars if you make them so that not everyone likes them than if nobody likes them? I'm no expert, but logic would suggest so.
#6 Stop reducing performance to 0-60 acceleration and quarter-mile times.
There's a very simple reason why people look at these times when measuring the performance levels of two or more cars: they're very easy to understand and, as opposed to something like a lap around the Nürburgring, there are much fewer variables involved. Even so, there are still tons of things to consider: tires, surface, temperature, one-foot rollout or not - you name it.
Racing another car at a street light also sounds a lot more likely to happen than setting a date with that driver on the Green Hell to see which of you is quicker. That makes these numbers more relevant to the average buyer. At the same time, make no mistake about it: developing a car that accelerates quickly is a lot easier than designing and building one that's good around a track, so the manufacturers couldn't be happier that it's these metrics you seem to care about the most.
That makes our wish seem somewhat naive, especially since we're not exactly able to provide an alternative, but hearing people brag about 0.1 of a second as if that's the most important thing in the Universe is starting to become irritating. Especially since the on-paper figures don't always seem to be replicated in practice.
#7 Cut the weird-looking EV trend.
For all the flak it's getting, BMW has gone the right way (at least in theory) about this with its second try (let's never forget the i3). Instead of making a separate line of EVs, it's simply offering electric powertrains as an alternative to gasoline, diesel, and hybrids for some (soon to be almost all) of its models.
The days when owning an electric vehicle was a statement - which meant people wanted to stand out to make their position known - are all but gone, so EV buyers nowadays simply want a regular car that happens to run on electrons. It's high time the manufacturers showed these people the respect they deserve by not forcing on them cars that look like clown-mobiles.
#8 Stop messing with the steering wheel.
Alright, another one that's on Tesla, but given the influence, Elon Musk's company seems to have within the industry (everyone wants to be like the cool kid. Well, at least the kids without a personality of their own do), it's not so far-fetched to imagine others will pick up on the madness soon enough.
The yoke idea isn't new, so there's a good reason why it didn't catch on back when it first appeared on a car: it's garbage. The most you can mess with the shape of a street-legal car's steering wheel is to flatten it a little, but anything beyond that is just stupid.
Yes, you can modify the steering ratio like they have in Formula 1 and thus making the yoke technically viable, but you really don't want a steering response that's so jumpy, nor do you want to have variable sensitivity depending on the speed because it can get confusing - "how sensitive is the steering now? And how about now? Oh, there's a deer in the way; how hard should I pull on the yoke to avoid making Bambi an orphan?"
Just leave it round and think of other ways to make the car seem cool and futuristic.
#9 Lay off the SUVs.
It does feel at the moment as though there is a master control room for the entire industry's production line, and someone has fallen asleep with their head on the "SUV" button. Hell, we don't mean to be morbid, but someone should probably check their vital signs because they've been doing that for a while.
Quite a long while, and there's no sign of stopping. OK, we get it, SUVs have a lot of strong points and only a few drawbacks, but when more than half of most manufacturers' lineups are made out of SUVs and crossovers, it's becoming a little irritating.
We're well aware it's the demand that dictates the supply, so maybe the resolution should sound more like, "I shall not buy SUVs anymore," and we should be the ones to make it, yet it's easier to deflect the blame toward the carmakers and expect them to do something about it. After all, they are multi-million corporations, and we're just average Joes working for a living.
#10 Continue being as diverse and awesome as it's been so far.
It's not just the carmakers that make it so exciting to watch, but everything else that's going on around it: you have your performance enhancers, your body kit makers, your restoration experts, your online content creators, all the motorsport action and, last but not least, the Tesla online community and their fierce loyalty toward the company and its CEO, a loyalty that's been described as "cult-like" more than once. Yup, there's a lot going on that keeps us on our toes and, if everything goes well, it'll stay the same for next year too.
That being said, we wish you a happy 2022 and hope to see you all back next year!