A New Hope

By John Eichberger | December 2016

The box office blockbuster at the end of 2016 was “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.” After watching this on the opening weekend, it led me to rush home and watch the original Star Wars (“A New Hope”), to tie the two together. (I strongly encourage viewing each in close proximity – there are a bunch of aha moments!)

The theme of the 1977 blockbuster is appropriate even today, because as we prepare for a new year we are filled with hope and anticipation about what new shiny transportation devices will be presented – you know, new vehicles! Each year presents buyers (or those who didn’t know they would be buyers) with a plethora of choices from the automobile industry to choose from. But where do they start?

In a twist reflecting the change in times, the Fuels Institute is going to attend the Consumer Electronics Show next month in Las Vegas. This particular tradeshow has become one of the premier options for technology companies to release their most advanced vehicle technologies to the public. We expect to see systems focused on electric drivetrains and autonomous technology. While still on the edges of mass adoption, without a doubt the two technologies have captured the imagination and passion of those who evaluate and report on the industry. Where better to introduce them than at one of the largest consumer shows in the world.

Later in January, the auto industry will descend on Detroit for the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS), which has historically shown some of the great advances in vehicle performance. Unfortunately, we will miss this one – so if you are there, shoot us some notes and photos about what you think were the highlights. It will help us identify emerging trends and inform our research.

At the end of the month, we will be attending the Washington Auto Show. This show, which is typically referred to as a dealer’s show and not one at which major releases are scheduled, is one of my favorites. My reasons are not solely based on the fact that our office is across the river from D.C., making this the most convenient show in the circuit. The main reason is that D.C. is Skynet (Terminator reference) for all regulations affecting the auto industry. My experience is that this show is an opportunity for auto makers to showcase their advances in efficiency technologies that will facilitate compliance with federal regulations. For fuels junkies, it’s a key event showcasing where things might be heading and has been the focus of video segments for the Fuels Institute and NACS for years – so keep your eyes open for a new video in the first quarter.

The year accelerates with the New York International Auto Show, and other international events that provide additional opportunities for auto makers to demonstrate their latest designs and technologies. It is impossible to hit every event, but one can dream.

Whichever show you decide to attend (and I encourage you to attend your local events if not one of the major international ones), be sure to take some time and look under the hood and at the powertrains being exhibited. Are you seeing trends in the way the industry is heading? What is catching your attention? Let us know – we really want to hear about your thoughts concerning the future of the automotive industry.

Happy drooling everyone – I am excited to see what the autos have in store for us in 2017!

Read more from the December Issue of our Fuel for Thought newsletter.