Car trends in 2014: Efficiency, light-weight and connectivity

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Updated 27 April 2014
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Car trends in 2014: Efficiency, light-weight and connectivity

At a press conference hosted by the World Car Awards (WCA) at the New York International Auto Show, an expert panel comprising 69 of the world’s top automotive journalists debated today’s top global trends in the automotive industry.
The conference revealed some key findings of a scientific study conducted by PRIME Research which included major trends such as efficiency, lightweight materials, design, connectivity and new energy cars as the most important media trends of 2014.
These trends form part of a bigger picture within the automotive industry, which PRIME Research have identified as the “smart efficiency cluster”.
This “efficiency cluster” is driven by the downsizing of engines, significant weight reduction, improved aerodynamics and new energy power trains; particularly plug-in hybrids.
“Utilizing this efficiency cluster is the challenge for all manufacturers and brands today and in the near future,” remarked Rainer Mathes, chairman of PRIME Research, which conducted the study in conjunction with the World Car Awards.
Mathes also said that lightweight materials were under the radar two years ago, yet in 2014 moved into the spotlight as the second most important aspect driven by interest in engine downsizing and the use of aluminum.
The Ford F150 and BMW i3 have helped in bringing materials such as aluminum and carbon fiber to the mass market as affordable solutions for weight-saving.
Following the media hype in 2012, electric vehicles are losing momentum. After two years of being among the Top three, EVs now rank as the fifth most important trend.
Plug-in hybrids are seen as the most promising electric drivetrain option moving forward, but the onset of premium electric vehicles — driven by the BMW i3 and Tesla Model S — bring electric vehicles back into the spotlight.
Stories written about these two models accounted for over 40 percent of all media coverage on electric vehicles. They have the ability to become game changers.
The World Car jurors also voiced strong opinions on connectivity; which is already a key factor in evaluating a car. Digital cars rank as the fourth most important trend, with infotainment and connectivity systems seen as increasingly significant. Tech giants Apple, Google and Microsoft have now joined the game: teaming up with automotive brands to create the next generation of digital cars.
PRIME Research International is a global leader in strategic communication research and consultancy and partners of the World Car Awards’ research.
The company provides strategic reports in 2014 that analyze the awards’ global automotive media coverage.
Now in their 11th year, the annual World Car awards have become one of the world’s most prestigious, credible and significant programs of its kind.
The awards were inaugurated in 2003 and officially launched in January 2004, to reflect the reality of the global marketplace, as well as to recognize and reward automotive excellence on an international scale.
The awards are intended to complement, not compete with, existing national and regional Car of the Year programs.


Game of Thrones reaches its end, with one or two shocks left

Updated 20 May 2019
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Game of Thrones reaches its end, with one or two shocks left

  • The last episode of the medieval fantasy based on the novels of George R.R. Martin ran roughly an hour and 20 minutes
  • The series had become the cornerstone of HBO’s primetime offerings, but its final season was also its most divisive

Warning: This story contains spoilers for the final episode of “Game of Thrones.”
After eight seasons and 73 episodes, HBO’s long-running smash series, “Game of Thrones,” wrapped up on Sunday, with one more shocking demise and an unlikely character named as king.
The last episode of the medieval fantasy based on the novels of George R.R. Martin ran roughly an hour and 20 minutes to conclude the storyline of more than a dozen characters and intertwining plots.
The fierce competition for the fictional Iron Throne — the seat for the show’s ruler, made of hundreds of swords — ended with a death and an unexpected choice to rule the fictional kingdom of Westeros.
The series had become the cornerstone of HBO’s primetime offerings, but its final season was also its most divisive, with both fans and critics finding specific plot twists, particularly the handling of one primary character, troubling.
HBO says the record-breaking final season drew 43 million viewers on average for each episode in the United States alone, an increase of 10 million over Season 7 in 2017.
Most notable in fans’ criticism was the malevolent turn by Emilia Clarke’s Daenerys Targaryen, the “Dragon Queen,” who used her dragon to lay waste to the show’s fictional capital after her enemies had surrendered.
The move angered fans, as the episode, titled “The Bells,” now garners the weakest ratings of all episodes in the eight-season run on Rottentomatoes.com, which aggregates critics’ reviews.
Brutal acts by Clarke’s character in previous seasons were similar to those of other leaders, but many viewers saw the decision to kill tens of thousands of innocent people as too drastic, based on her previous actions.
The final episode features her death at the hands of Jon Snow, her lover (and nephew, among numerous incestuous relationships portrayed), played by Kit Harington, who kills her, fearing her tyranny merely mirrors that of predecessors.
Her last living dragon then burns the Iron Throne, melting it down with his fiery breath.
Without a ruler, numerous members of the show’s noble houses eventually make an unexpected choice of king, settling on Brandon Stark, played by Isaac Hempstead Wright.
In the premiere episode in 2011, Brandon was pushed from a high tower, crippling him, but awakening mystical powers that eventually allowed him to see the past and the future.
Some critics viewed the Sunday episode’s choice as odd, since Stark’s abilities implied he foresaw the events, including the deaths of thousands, that would leave him ruler.
“He’s got the whole history of Westeros stockpiled in his head, so how is he going to be able to concentrate on running a kingdom?” wrote Rebecca Patton on Bustle.com.
From its ragged beginnings — its original pilot was never aired, instead undergoing substantial re-shoots and recasting of several characters — the series became a cultural phenomenon.
Its budgets grew, with the last season’s cost running as high as $15 million per episode, Variety says. It also won numerous primetime television Emmy Awards, including three for “Best Drama.”
It became known for unexpected, nerve-wracking moments, including the first season’s death of Eddard Stark, the nobleman played by Sean Bean, highlighted in a marketing campaign, and Season 3’s “Red Wedding,” a massacre in fictional wars that author Martin based on medieval Scottish history.
HBO, owned by AT&T’s WarnerMedia, is already planning a prequel series, set thousands of years earlier, while creators Dan Weiss and David Benioff are scheduled to make the next series of “Star Wars” films.