The auto industry is on the verge of a new era. Electric cars are finally—if slowly—moving into the mainstream. Autonomous cars are proving humans needn’t be at the wheel, and maybe don’t belong there at all. UI and UX are becoming more important than power and performance.
All of those trends transitioned from talking points to dealerships this year. Tesla’s Model X and new versions of the Toyota Prius and Chevrolet Volt underscore the rapid gains coming to battery technology. Production-bound concepts like the Porsche Mission E and Chevrolet Bolt show where the technology is headed next.
Google’s autonomous “car,” sans steering wheel and pedals, took to the streets. Hyundai jumped into the luxury market, BMW raised the standard for a top of the line sedan higher than ever. VW admitted to using illegal software on millions of diesel-powered cars, and Mazda refused to give up the idea that driving can be both fun and affordable.
So before we jump into 2016, here’s a look back at the most important cars of the year.