What will the premium cars of 2030 be like?
Before we delve into estimating what premium cars of 2030 will be like, it would make sense to try and quantify what premium cars actually are today.
'Premium' is a societal definition. To some, an interior formed of prize-winning cows, wood felled from the oldest forests and a badge dating back to the Tudors. For others, it's about the latest technology - showcasing what is scientifically possible within the confines of four wheels. We shouldn't discount other factors such as rarity, sportiness or sheer size either. 'Premium' is a difficult concept to define, perhaps the eclectic mass of cars identified as premium these days is the best indication of this.
To get a slice of the lucrative premium pie, sub-premium car companies endlessly re-invent themselves and/or create sub-brands with a more 'premium' image such as Citroen and DS or Seat with its more sporty, more expensive derivative, Cupra. Let's not forget Toyota's sub-brand Lexus, a well-established premium brand, is only celebrating its 30th birthday next year.
Lexus proved you don't need a badge steeped in history to be viewed as premium. Credit - Business Insider
Looking ahead to 2030 (a date which still sounds too science-fiction-ey to be talking about with any realism), what technology and social norms will we have? Predicting government policies and public opinion, as automakers will point out, is difficult. The push for autonomy along with other safety features making driving safer contradicts the performance records we're seeing for production cars.
We think of 'premium' as something more expensive than the norm. If cars are mandated to have some level of autonomy or any other form of technology, the cost of that particular technology usually becomes less costly or significant for buyers. Autonomy might be a 'premium' form of technology in cars now, but it could be as common as seat-belts or airbags by 2030.
The same point applies to electric vehicles and their relative 'premium' over combustion-engined cars due to their innovative technology. But with MPs recently calling for the government to bring forward its aim of banning sales of petrol and diesel cars by 2040 to 2032, the cost of owning an EV will invariably decrease, potentially with the premium image.
Social opinion of technology of how or why it is implemented can change rapidly. Ashtrays were considered a sign of a premium car, now they're relatively defunct. Reverse parking sensors were only available to large, luxurious cars - now you can get a rear view camera in a Mini hatchback. Some technology gets refreshed, others get removed.
Some premium cars are defined by performance. BMW proudly festoons its M cars with M badges, Mercedes do the same with AMG, Honda with its Type R logo - you get the picture. We've become accustomed to seeing performance versions top model lines, and when we can't afford the top-spec model we fake it. We buy the 'M sports' and 'AMG lines', to show we still care about performance, at least enough to warrant a badge.
EVs will likely replace petrol and diesels as the big sellers, but can they provide the 'premium' performance we crave? In 2018, Volkswagen's I.D. set a Pikes' Peak record and Tesla claimed its new Roadster's 1.9 second 0-60mph time. Along with the numerous YouTube videos of Tesla P90Ds embarrassing the combustion-engined establishment, public attitude is changing to EV's performance credentials.
A premium car of 2030 might be something as conventional as a V12 Rolls Royce or a BMW 320i. It might also be a brand not traditionally connected with the automotive industry, ahem, Google. But it might also be a brand you've never heard of, featuring technology no-one has ever dreamt of, yet.