Eddie Cunningham: The make-up and profile of our cars are about to change forever
Maybe you're wondering what you will be driving this time next year. Or, worse still, maybe you're wondering what the neighbours will be driving. The sort of car we're buying these days is changing so rapidly, there is little chance of you and the Joneses ending up with the same or similar models on your driveways.
We have, as I mention here most weeks, become a nation of SUV lovers; our desire for individuality has spawned an infinite number of shapes and outlines.
At the same time, we're converting with some speed from diesel to petrol, to hybrid, and beginning to flirt in earnest with electric cars.
That in a nutshell is what is in store for us over 2019: a mix of what we've had for years, what we have now and what we'll have in the future.
One thing is for sure: every car maker on the planet plans to introduce more hybrids, plug-ins and electric cars for years and years to come.
I'm not saying we will be inundated with them straightaway but the make-up and profile of the cars we'll increasingly buy from now on are about to change forever.
Last week, I said 2018 was a pivotal year for how mindsets changed.
Next year, I believe, will demonstrate that in more practical fashion.
Even more so the year after; 2020 seems to be a watershed for loads of new electric models to arrive on the market.
And we've already caught real-world glimpses of what to expect. One of the more dramatic electric cars due here in 2019 is the new e-tron SUV from Audi. It starts from €101,750. Yes, it's a lot of money. These executive EVs don't come cheap. Even mid-size SUVs such as the Jaguar I-PACE cost from €84,000. I believe the real revolution in affordability will kick in when we get the likes of the first electric ID from Volkswagen towards the end of 2019. They are promising a Passat-size interior (I've sat in it and they are not lying) for the price of a well-equipped Golf diesel. In other words, the early €30,000s. I think that sort of figure, replicated by other manufacturers, of course, will set people thinking about electric as a viable proposition for a family car.
Meantime, those with electric cars already on the market will flourish, I predict, as more people switch to the likes of the Nissan Leaf (extended range 60kw version due second quarter 2019), Renault ZOE, Hyundai IONIQ hatchbacks; and crossovers such as the new Kia eNiro and Hyundai Kona (expect the former to cost around €33,000 while the Kona comes in from €35,995).
To give you an idea of how quickly the automakers are 'going electric', just take BMW.
They will have 25 electrified vehicles (12 full EVs) by 2025. Right now they have several, including the i3, i3s, i8, 530e, 225Xe and 740Le.
Mercedes, too, claim models for next year will include petrol-mild hybrids, petrol/diesel plug-ins, not to mention the full-electric EQC mid-size SUV. Another example of EV investment is Nissan. It will develop eight new electric vehicles in the near future as it anticipates EVs comprising 50pc of sales in Japan/Europe by 2025.
So we are at the fringes of an interim period where the shift to electric is slowly under way and the switch from diesel is speeding up.
As a result, lots of makers are going the hybrid, or plug-in, route. Mind you, they have a long way to go to catch Toyota, who are bringing in no fewer than five new hybrids in the first 12 weeks of 2019 (three Corolla models, RAV4 and Camry). They got in on the hybrid act a long, long time ago and are reaping the rewards now.
Volkswagen, meantime, expect to sell 400 e-Golfs (electric) next year, which is a huge increase and a practical indication of what I've been saying.
The ID range I mentioned marks the start of a tidal wave of electric models from them. It gets here late next year; so it will be one of the 2020 watershed motors.
But while the drift towards electrification gathers pace, the vast majority of us will still buy a diesel or petrol car next year.
And there are some beauties newly arrived or due shortly.
Here are just some to watch out for:
The new Audi A6 shows what a luxury saloon can be. It's just gone on sale. The excellent new X5 from BMW and 8 Series Coupé (convertible in late spring) are highlights, while the new 3 Series is eagerly awaited. I've driven it abroad and would advocate the 320d - yes, the diesel (it's not dead yet).
From posh to practical - there will be lots of interest in the new bargain-basement Dacia Duster (starting its first full year).
Honda have eschewed diesel in their new CR-V - it's petrol or hybrid. The latter impressed but I missed the diesel.
Beloved of so many, the new Range Rover Evoque will arrive late spring. I believe it could be a highlight of the year.
Executive hybrid champion Lexus have the new ES 300h mid-size motor next month (€49,450). Their first compact crossover, the UX 200h, gets here in March (€39,500). Nice cars.
The interesting thing about the seventh- generation Mazda3 (April arrival) is the automaker's claim that their special new petrol engine can match/outperform diesel on fuel consumption without the penalty of NOx emissions. We'll see.
For executive small-saloon lovers, Mercedes will have a booted A-Class for the first time. Look forward to seeing that. Its Audi A3 saloon rival has been a popular buy.
And lovers of small hatchbacks can look forward to the new Opel Corsa - there will be an electric version of it by 2020.
One of the best-designed cars of next year will be the Peugeot 508 large-family fastback. It's a late-spring arrival. Gorgeous car.
There's a lot of demand for seven-seater SUVs, and SEAT's new Tarraco (February arrival as a five- or seven-seater) will interest families. The Rapid was Škoda's biggest mistake but they're putting things right with the Scala (due in June), which is sharply designed and much smarter-looking.
Tesla's much awaited Model 3 should start arriving late next year.
And finally we'll see a new Volkswagen Golf next year. What a car that should be. Before that, their new small crossover, the T-Cross, arrives in April.
So there you have the briefest of 2019 overviews. Yet even allowing for that, I hope it shows how unbelievably varied our cars are becoming.
In truth, they reflect our insatiable demand for something different. Which means you can probably trump the Joneses, no matter what they buy.
Have a happy, safe New Year.