Gains in Germany and the continued turnaround in France, Spain, Italy and Portugal are considered good signs for the year. Southern Europe has suffered the most in the current economic climate, while Germany, the largest market, declined in 2013 as well.
The Opel Monza and Renault Initiale Paris are among the latest show vehicles signaling a trend by designers to zero-in on a few advanced features, rather than overwhelm consumers with more complex models.
A Continental Automotive study shows U.S. consumers saying they would pay a premium of $1,500 for features such as automated driving on freeways and in heavy traffic, while Germans would pay twice as much.
To reach series production, Schaeffler, Ford and other co-developers must lower the cost of each part, conduct functional safety and environmental testing and document the technology for potential customers.