Entertainment will matter more than driving
What do you use your smartphone for the most -- talking, or wasting time on addicting cat game apps, looking up directions, and making mediocre Snapchat Stories? More than anything else, your phone keeps you connected and entertained; your car is already following suit.
Most high-end luxury sedans, such as the Mercedes S-Class and BMW 7-Series, already give backseat riders oversized tablets that can be removed and used during the journey. Within a decade, these will become standard in average-priced cars like a Toyota Camry or a Honda Accord. Backseats haven't been this entertaining since high school, but what about the front?
The dashboard of the Tesla Model 3 has none of the usual boring buttons and readouts that make hours of commuting such a joyless chore. As self-driving technology advances, cars will be less about driving and more about avoiding the bumper-to-bumper boredom between point A and point B. Dashboards will look like one giant conveyer, displaying data about your trip and infotainment options; once legitimately self-driving cars are upon us, you'll see huge dashboards sporting TVs and tablets, similar to the Rinspeed concept pictured above.
For owners, carmakers will emphasize software upgrades instead of model years
Nobody ever asks what year your cellphone is. Just as the demand for smartphones is largely driven by new versions of software and design upgrades (bigger screens, better visibility, longer battery life, better software), don't be surprised if cars get on the bandwagon and ditch the model year.
Why? The greatest long-term cost in car ownership isn't gas, insurance, maintenance, or even the initial purchase price; it's depreciation. If a good-looking car from 2018 is just as appealing as one from 2025, chances are the automaker will want to minimize that depreciation by keeping it within a fleet of thousands of similar-looking models. Instead of selling a "new" car that's actually been in production for years, they'll emphasize software upgrades, changes to the interior, and new features that can be downloaded and installed, which will help enhance the perceived value of older cars and keep the depreciation monster at bay. Tesla is already marketing the Model 3 this way -- you'll soon see other car companies follow suit.
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