Cars of the Future
People have always tried to guess how things would be different in the future. The future of the automobile has been a much loved topic of TV shows and cartoons for years. How did you imagine we would travel in the year 2017? The self-driven taxi from Total Recall? Hovering craft like in Star Wars? The sky was the limit, literally, for what cars would look like.
Technology has taken a completely different direction. Cars already do what we need them to do. Hovering would be cool, but wouldn’t really serve any other purpose. The police are busy trying to slow drivers down because our cars already go more than fast enough. In fact, in many places there’s so much traffic that cars can’t use the speed they already have. Aesthetics are still important, but rather than buying the flashiest possible car, people are choosing streamlined, attractive cars. After market upgrades are made to blend in with the original – boring – look of the car. Huge improvements in reliability and safety have become more important than other considerations.
What do cars still leave to be desired? Fuel efficiency – even more practicality. The price of gasoline has soared in recent years, and it’s expensive just to drive around town. Cars that run on less gasoline, or none at all, are the hot sellers. Automakers have a lot of choices for reaching this goal, from hydrogen to biofuel to propane. All of these technologies have challenges, especially in keeping their costs down enough that they will be economically comparable to gasoline powered cars.
In the last few years, one technology has taken the lead and reached the car dealership: electricity. Hybrids were the first to hit the market and fully electric vehicles aren’t far behind. Toyota was the first to get its hybrid, the Prius, to consumers at a reasonable price. The other automakers followed closely on their heels. The Ford Escape, Infiniti M35, Honda Civic and Nissan Altima are just a few of the offerings. Hybrids don’t have to be small anymore, either, as evidenced by GMC’s Sierra and Cadillac’s Escalade. The government has encouraged the use of cars that consume less gasoline and don’t cause as much damage to the environment by offering financial incentives. You can go buy one of these cars today at your local Riverside Ford Dealer, Georgia Honda Dealership or Orange County GMC Dealership with no problem.
The next development we’ll see is the fully electric vehicle. They’ve been out in very small numbers until now, seen at car shows or as part of a fleet of cars driven by the local electric company. The Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf are finally hitting showrooms. Limited range and battery price are not completely resolved yet, but clearly this is the direction that new cars are going.
Good old fashioned fuel efficiency is getting overlooked to some degree. A car can run on gasoline, but use a lot less of it. This is a technology that’s been slowly but steadily improving for many years. Look at the non-hybrid version of the Honda Civic, which gets 34 MPG or the Ford Focus with its 35 MPG highway. This was unimaginable back in the 80’s when gas was only $1.35 a gallon and we loved our V8s.
So while we’re unlikely to see cars like the DeLorean from Back to the Future or Kitt from the Knight Rider, cars will continue to evolve to meet our ever-changing needs. America’s love affair with the automobile is far from over.