For each generation of car buyers, automakers tend to shift the type of products they offer in response to the wants and needs of the average car buyer. As the average car buyer becomes increasingly active, adventurous, and dependent on mobile technology, automobiles are taking a hard shift towards integrated smart technology. This shift was undoubtedly accelerated by the arrival of Tesla Motors. The success of their products has brought intense heat to the race, bringing the newest and most innovative tech to the auto market.
While Tesla continues to set the bar for smart vehicle technology integration, there are a few newcomers, and some unexpected old timers, making waves. The landscape of the current auto market is inviting to upstarts and underdogs in an unprecedented way. The market can't ignore these automakers that are producing vehicles with new and innovative technology worthy of a second look.
Probably the most visible upstart in the smart electric car segment, and the most viable competitor to Tesla, is Rivian. The announcement of their upcoming all-electric pickup truck, and large SUV, prompted a hefty $500 million investment from Ford Motor Co., and a rushed press release from Tesla, announcing plans for their own electric pickup. As novel a concept as an electric pickup is, the biggest advantage Rivian has is the new and innovative tech. The automaker has developed an arsenal of new tech that allows them to make some pretty exciting claims in the way of vehicle range and performance. The planned R1T will sport four independent motors at each wheel, and will reportedly have a feature called "tank turn," allowing for zero radius maneuvers. Ideas like this are the result of the new perspective that technology companies bring to the automotive sector. Their innovations have also peaked the interest of Amazon, which may partner with Rivian to revolutionize the trucking industry.
There's nothing particularly impressive anymore about an electric car with over 200 miles of range, smart driver assistance features, and smartphone integration. What is impressive is getting all of this in a car that retails for less than $30,000. Prices like that would make even Model 3 owners blush. The all-new 2019 Nissan Leaf is available with 226 miles of range, and comes standard with Nissan Intelligent Mobility, which keeps the vehicle centered in its lane at a safe distance from vehicles ahead. This list of impressive features, combined with an international dealership and financing network, make it easy to see why the Leaf is still the highest-selling electric car on the market. With federal incentives and regional deals and rebates, the Leaf is an attractive option for those looking to enter the electric car realm at an attractive price point.
Volvo has been producing smart cars with a focus on safety for decades. The all-new 2020 XC90 features the impressive, yet familiar, lineup of high-end tech features. One of the best crossover SUV options available, the 2020 Volvo XC90, along with other select models, features Volvo's IntelliSafe technology. IntelliSafe is a package of connected technologies that serve to prevent and/or lessen the impact of collision. Volvo has been developing these features for years, but the latest iteration takes the next step towards automated driving. Volvo has been testing prototypes around Scandinavia with marked success, and are nearly ready to offer the suite of technology in the US.
The auto market is rapidly moving towards connected software more than muscle and sheer performance. These vehicles, and others on the way, will continue to shock the world, and change the way we think about cars.