In My Opinion: The Evolution of Our Industry

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Tomorrow’s vehicles will be dramatically different from what you see in your bays today.

By the time you read this, the Canadian International AutoShow (CIAS) will have come and gone here in Toronto.

Few outside the industry realize the significance of this event. After the oasis of the Christmas rush, in a retail sense, the months of January and February can best be described as a desert. Folks are more concerned with paying off December’s bills, the weather is cold and snowy, and a lot of people have just left town, heading south to find summer.

Back in 1974, the local dealer group (Trillium Automobile Dealers Association, or TADA) came up with the idea of fighting the February blues with an Auto Show extravaganza. Get out of the cold. Shop and compare all the models the industry has to offer, plus have the ability to buy on the spot.

The event was an instant success, so much so, that those basic offerings are still in effect today. However we all grow up, and so did the Show. Currently, the CIAS is 650,000 sq. ft. in size, and the event operates out of Toronto’s Metro Convention Centre for 15 days in February.

Manufacturers use the event to kick off the buying season, showing new models and concepts, while sponsors entertain their associates and host VIP dinners. It’s quite the event!

Beyond shiny metal
This year, the Toronto Star hosted a series of discussions that are currently in the automotive sphere: “How will the upcoming cannabis legislation affect driving laws?,” “Cars and our aging population,” “Women on wheels,” and “The electric revolution: What form will it come in?”

Yours truly moderated the one about cars and our aging population. Here are a few facts I found fascinating:
• Fact: In Canada, there are more people over the age of 60 than there are children.
• Fact: 90 percent of the folks over 50 have a valid driver’s licence.
• Fact: 60 percent of drivers over 65 use the car as their primary transportation.
• Fact: People over 60 represent 14 percent of the population, yet they purchase two-thirds of all new cars sold in Canada.

Obviously, this conversation led to, “Why aren’t manufacturers building cars for the folks that are buying them? So how do we improve the breed?”

Look for some of these changes in future offerings, as we’re all aging at the same rate.

Renowned aging expert Steve Bassin forwarded several ideas, most of which are doable now.
• Instrument clusters with adjustable fonts that are enlarged and simplified.
• Better entry and egress.
• Lighter doors.
• More visibility and better vehicle body shapes to help drivers navigate in tight places.

Former Lieutenant Governor of Ontario David Onley suggested:
• Electric opening and closing of front driver’s and passenger’s doors;
• Larger door openings with a lower step-in height;
• No bucket seats trapping the driver.

Other recommendations:
• Revised testing procedure for drivers over 80, including cogency and physical testing;
• Trending away from the complexity of the controls;
• Marketing a senior’s package on current offerings.

Final thought: Look for some of these changes in future offerings, as we’re all aging at the same rate.

Categories : Mechanical


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