Cars have long been the most popular way to get around in North America. There’s no question that cars and the technology in them has been evolving over the decades, but the coming changes to the auto industry are possibly the most dramatic yet. Over the next few decades automobile manufacturers are due to roll out technologies that really change cars into dream machines. Self-driving, ultra-economical electrical cars will take the fuss, hassle and cost out of driving for millions of car owners.
Electric cars may be the only option
In fact, in future, some countries may only allow electric cars to be sold. France and the UK have already indicated they will ban the selling of new diesel and petrol cars from 2040. The benefits of electric cars are numerous, they are quiet and emit no particulate matter, dramatically reducing pollution. Depending on the electricity supply, they can also be incredibly economical, costing dramatically less per mile to run than a car with an internal combustion engine.
Whereas electric cars had a limited driving range in the past – due to the limited capacity of their batteries – improvements in the density of lithium ion batteries now allow manufacturers to roll out cars with ranges running into the hundreds of miles. This will pose challenges for the current limited charging infrastructure, but with governments getting on board with electric vehicles, your dream car will soon be chargeable in almost every parking lot.
Autonomous driving will be commonplace
It’s been a dream of drivers and car manufacturers for decades: a car that drives itself. For all intents and purposes the technology is already here, with both car manufacturers and software companies delivering vehicles that can navigate roads without driver assistance in most circumstances. Autonomous driving uses sophisticated analytical thinking, driven by a hi-tech computer unit inside the car, combined with an enormous number of sensors, including cameras and radar units.
For autonomous driving to become commonplace, government and industry need to work out a few kinks. There are still legal and regulatory questions around self-driving cars that need to be resolved, and as is often the case with technology adoption, the implications of self-driving cars are only slowly becoming clearer. But as the safety of autonomous driving technology improves, the hurdles are becoming fewer in fewer. Chances are, your next car might drive itself.
Cars will be increasingly connected
You can hardly buy a new car that’s not packed with in-car technology. Sophisticated entertainment systems are no longer a rare luxury, and cars are increasingly “connected”. Your dream car of the future will without doubt have a live link to the Internet, which boosts infotainment options and hasfavorable implications for safety and the ability to navigate.
Luxury cars already have the ability to navigate you around traffic incidents and congestion, but they don’t always get it right. Expect your future dream car to be able to automatically avoid any congestion – in fact, congestion could become a thing of the past, altogether. If every car is connected, traffic can be centrally planned and routing commands communicated to each car, so that no area gets more congested than it needs to.
The ownership model may change
There’s plenty of talk about how self-driving cars will completely upend the car ownership model, with the large operators of cab-hailing apps employing vast fleets of fully automated vehicles that can whizz you to your destination at a tap. The big players in the car industry understand how having a car sitting on your driveway, unused and depreciating, is simply not a good investment.
Much of what the future holdsfor cars could therefore involve reduced car ownership. Your dream car might in fact be no car. Whether a mass reduction in car ownership really lies around the corner depends a lot on the willingness of individuals and families to give up car ownership– to many, a car is still a much loved and valued possession. Yet improvements in technology are making it more and more practical to car-share, even today.
But what about flying cars?
Sci-fi films have always predicted flying cars to be imminent, but as yet there’s no trace of them. Driving is still firmly grounded and will be for the foreseeable future, as much as a flying car is the ultimate dream car. The odd concept does appear though, such as the Ehang 184, which is an autonomous electric quadcopter,shown at the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The prevalence of drones is also promising. So, there is a glimmer of hope. In the meantime, your road-based car journey is set to become safer, cheaper and more convenient.