Money Advice

The Future of Automobiles & Car Technology – Hybrid, Electric & Driverless Cars

In a single century, the introduction of the auto has spurred huge modifications in American tradition, the communities through which we stay, the surroundings, the economic system, and personal independence. Every side of day by day life has modified, from the locations we stay, to the meals that we eat.

Automobiles, more and more accessible to anybody, have blurred social class distinctions, expanded markets, and stimulated the economic system. The trade instantly employs greater than 2.6 million folks and, in line with Auto Alliance, accounts for 3% to three.5% of the nation’s gross home product (GDP).

The American love affair with automobiles is obvious within the quantity owned. According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, there have been greater than 250 million registered automobiles within the United States in 2012, or one for each American over the age of 18. The common family owns 1.75 automobiles. Drivers traveled greater than 2.8 billion miles over 4.5 million miles of roads and highways and 605,471 bridges within the nation that year.

Consumers can select from a plethora of producers of automobiles, all of which produce completely different makes, fashions, and physique kinds. The automobiles can then be additional custom-made by shade, engine sort, transmission, inside design, and sort of wheels. In addition, there are hundreds of auto restore outlets, high-performance mechanics, and physique customizing outlets prepared to meet the goals of any vehicle proprietor.

The Negative Impact of Automobiles on Modern Life

For all of its contributions to fashionable life, the auto has additionally wrought appreciable damaging penalties for people and society as a complete:

  • Expense. The buy and ongoing operation of an vehicle is one of the most important expenditures that the standard individual makes in a lifetime. Automobiles account for about one-sixth of a household’s funds, greater than meals or healthcare and insurance coverage mixed, in line with the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The BLS reports that in 2010 the common passenger automotive within the U.S. was 11.4 years previous and was pushed 11,318 miles whereas burning $2,132 on gasoline and oil. Furthermore, drivers spent, on common, $787 for repairs and upkeep.
  • Deaths and Injuries. According to the United States Census Bureau, since 1990, greater than 10 million accidents involving automobiles happen every year, inflicting greater than 30,000 deaths per year. While the rate declines every year – reflecting enhancements in design and new technology – the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that the associated fee of accidents in 2010 was $871 billion.
  • Urban Sprawl. The U.S. inhabitants greater than tripled from 76 million folks in 1900 to 281 million in 2000. However, in line with a 2002 United States Census study, the quantity of folks residing in a metropolitan space has declined considerably since 1950. At mid-century, greater than 7,000 folks occupied a sq. mile of land space; in 2000, there have been lower than 3,000 per sq. mile. This unfold reduces the effectivity of mass transit and will increase strain to build extra intensive highway and freeway networks.
  • Congestion. According to a 2012 Texas A&M mobility study, the common vehicle commuter spends greater than 50 hours per week sitting in his automotive caught in site visitors. In cities resembling Los Angeles, Boston, and New York, congestion is greater than 60 hours per year, inflicting Americans to journey a cumulative 5.5 billion hours greater than crucial and to buy an additional 2.9 billion gallons of gas.
  • Pollution. While atmospheric air pollution predates the auto, most scientists agree that our personal cars are a serious trigger of international warming. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, automobiles and vans account for almost one-fifth of all U.S. emissions – round 24 kilos of carbon dioxide and different global-warming gasses for each gallon of gasoline burned.

The Future of Automobiles

Even although cars have modified considerably since their introduction, the tempo of enhancements in cars is rising – particularly associated to developments to fight their damaging impacts. Some futurists predict the looks of autonomous autos – self-driving automobiles – inside the subsequent decade.

ExtremeTech reviews that Mercedes-Benz unveiled their driverless automotive on the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show, the F-105 luxurious car, which comes with entrance seats that swivel in order that the driving force and front-seat passenger can sit face-to-face with the back-seat passengers. Meanwhile, BMW has demonstrated its i3 EV that self-parks and might search a parking storage for open areas.

According to CNBC, some analysts predict that new producers resembling Google and Apple will supplant conventional mass vehicle producers like General Motors, Ford, Honda, and Volkswagen with their head begin on new technology. Other predictions embody the next:

  • Fewer automobiles might be owned by households since a single automotive can serve a spread of members sequentially and concurrently with out ready for a driver. For instance, a driverless automotive may return to its residence base after delivering a employee to the office and be accessible to move different relations throughout the day earlier than returning to choose up the commuter later within the night.
  • There might be a rise in shared mobility the place folks use automobiles with out proudly owning them.

Future Automobile Improvements

Elements of Significant Change

Significant enhancements will scale back the damaging influence of cars sooner or later. These embody the next features and parts.


The first cars resembled the horse-drawn carriages that they changed, easy containers on wheels. Early producers had little data of aerodynamics – the resistance of objects shifting via the air, or “drag.” Drag will increase proportionately with pace. The form of the automotive, particularly the frontal space, instantly impacts the power consumed because the car strikes ahead.

Another impact of elevated pace is extra elevate – the tendency of the automotive physique to rise from the highway floor – from air flowing beneath the automotive, lowering traction and stability throughout turns. The use of wind tunnels has guided automotive design engineers to cut back sharp edges and enhance streamlining, thus lowering drag, elevate, and power consumption.

As a consequence, makes and fashions seem related as every producer shortly adopts any benefit gained by a rival. Future automobiles are more likely to be shorter with extra curves whereas sustaining or rising inside space for passengers.


A automotive’s weight instantly impacts the gas consumption used throughout operations. University of Washington reviews that widespread use of unibody building, light-weight supplies, and smaller engines diminished the common vehicle’s weight by 1,700 kilos between 1975 and 2009. However, a lot of the benefit was offset by a rise in car measurement and added performance.

Continued federal strain to extend gas economic system will lead to a higher use of light-weight metal, aluminum, composite supplies, and plastics to cut back weight and enhance crashworthiness. For instance, the Tesla Roadster’s physique is constructed from a light-weight carbon fiber/epoxy composite that’s as sturdy as metal and weighs 30% much less. As manufacturing prices of the fabric come down, extra producers will flip to the revolutionary new composite supplies for his or her automobiles.

Mechanical Efficiency

The four-stroke inner combustion engine has been the first energy supply for cars for many years. Over the years, technological advances such as double overhead cams with 4 valves with variable valve timing, compelled induction of air, gas injection, computer-adjusted gas injection, and variable valve timing has elevated engine effectivity and energy.

The widespread use of the engine management unit – an on-board computer that regulates ignition timing, air/gas combination, and idle pace – creates higher gas effectivity and fixed engine prognosis. Transmissions are extra environment friendly, evolving from guide shifting of three ahead gears and reverse, to computerized shifting of six to eight gears and reverse. Improved hydraulics allow easy energy steering, whereas anti-lock brakes have drastically diminished stopping time and space.

As of 2015, hybrids – a mixture of the gasoline engine and the electrical motor – haven’t change into standard in elements of the United States. According to Experian Automotive (by way of Adam Goldfein), one in 4 hybrids have been offered in California, an quantity higher than the subsequent 5 states (Florida, Texas, New York, Virginia, and Washington) mixed.

Although most of the foremost auto producers presently supply a hybrid mannequin, Toyota’s Prius fashions have dominated the market with about 5 million complete gross sales since 2000, in line with 24/7 Wall St. Since U.S. annual gross sales of autos since 2000 have ranged as little as 10.4 million (year 2009) to 17.4 million (year 2000), hybrids have represented lower than 3% of the whole gross sales since 2000 and, in line with Green Car Reports, common about 3% of complete annual gross sales presently.

Many observers imagine the mixture of the next has restricted the sale of hybrids thus far:

  • High client costs relative to conventional engine fashions ($5,000 or extra for a comparable automotive)
  • Fewer impartial service amenities succesful of servicing or repairing hybrids or electrical automobiles, requiring the automotive to be maintained by the promoting vendor
  • Lack of client familiarity with the brand new technology
  • Increased gas effectivity of gasoline engines
  • An automotive tradition that idealizes horsepower and freeway pace

While purely electrical automobiles powered by gas cells (not hybrids) have captured the general public’s fancy, gas cell enhancements haven’t progressed as shortly as projected. The common electrical automotive has a 150-mile driving restrict and requires 20 to half-hour to recharge.

In distinction, a 2015 Ford Focus with a four-cylinder, flex-fuel (gasoline or gasoline-ethanol blends) engine and a 12.4-gallon tank can journey greater than 360 miles with out refueling. While electrical automobiles might substitute conventional energy sources sooner or later, the most certainly end result is an elevated recognition of the hybrid engine, the logical transition between the gasoline and electrical engines.

Mechanical Gasoline Efficiency


For the bulk of its existence, the auto has relied upon gasoline – a refined petroleum product – for its gas. Tetraethyl lead was traditionally added to offer extra resistance to self-ignition, a situation drivers known as “knocking” when the ignition was turned off. Since the Seventies, ethanol – a renewable gas blended with gasoline – has changed lead, the mixture typically known as “flex fuel.”

Other fuels embody the next:

  • Compressed Natural Gas. Some automobiles, particularly massive vans and buses, are designed to function with compressed pure gasoline, a fossil gas that burns cleaner than petroleum and produces fewer pollution. Proponents resembling oilman T. Boone Pickens have advocated CNG as a greater environmental and cheaper various to gasoline. However, the infrastructure to offer CNG as a viable various to a nation of cars doesn’t exist, thus limiting its attraction to motorists.
  • Electricity. Electric and hybrid automobiles are more and more frequent, with a gas economic system roughly 33% higher than a gasoline-powered engine. While the battery-powered automobiles may be recharged at residence or at public charging stations, the vary of the electric-only automobiles is significantly lower than a gasoline-powered automotive with a storage capability of 12 or extra gallons. Improvements in battery technology have been slower than initially projected, and the electric-powered automobiles stay dearer than a gasoline-powered various. Nevertheless, electrical automobiles will proceed to gather a higher market share as manufacturing prices lower and their environmental benefits change into extra apparent. Hybrid fashions counting on a gasoline motor to recharge batteries or energy the electrical motor may be pushed farther than gasoline-powered automobiles, and retain a gas economic system benefit as nicely.
  • Hydrogen. Some scientists and auto producers advocate hydrogen because the gas of the long run, primarily for its environmental advantages. In 2014, Hyundai began leasing the primary hydrogen-powered car within the United States, whereas Toyota introduced plans to promote its first hydrogen-fueled automotive in 2015. Most of the foremost producers have hydrogen-powered automobiles below growth. However, the fueling infrastructure essential to help hydrogen as a major gas doesn’t but exist.

It is unlikely that any single alternate gas will displace gasoline as the auto’s major gas earlier than 2025. Electric cars and hybrid automobiles will proceed to gather important market share as the space traveled per electrical cost will increase. The world worth for oil will even drastically have an effect on the eventual wholesale conversion to an alternate gas. If costs proceed at $4.00 per gallon or higher, the transfer to various fuels might be spurred.


Electronic communication between the auto and the surroundings through which it operates have undergone probably the most dramatic modifications. Global positioning techniques (GPS) can be found in most new automobiles, albeit as an add-on merchandise for a lot of. As these techniques change into commonplace to all new automobiles, real-time car monitoring might be rising accessible, in addition to offsite engine monitoring. A GPS system is crucial to driverless automobiles.

Vehicle to car (V2V) and car to infrastructure (V2I) communications will change into commonplace in order that cars will robotically bear in mind of the position and motion of different automobiles, along with altering highway circumstances. Interactive highway indicators and site visitors alerts will present computerized, fixed communications to automobiles permitting course and pace corrections with out driver intervention. As these parts – already technically accessible – are put in place, the driverless automotive will change into a actuality.

Roads and Highways

In the approaching many years, the U.S. will rebuild its getting old infrastructure and embody the brand new technology of communications. Restricted lanes for big vans are frequent on highways at this time. Platooning on interstate highways – particular person automobiles linked collectively electronically and touring collectively as a unit – will change into commonplace because the nation rebuilds its highways to accommodate communication capabilities.

The rationale for pace limits traditionally has been the next:

  • Driver Safety. Driving at decrease speeds permits drivers extra time to make changes if crucial and reduces influence forces. Highway accidents might be drastically diminished as computer systems substitute human drivers, the previous making immediate changes as highway and site visitors circumstances change. Readers ought to word that the Autobahn in West Germany has no higher pace limits and has skilled a site visitors fatality rate far beneath the U.S. Interstate Highway System for years.
  • Fuel Economy. A pace restrict of 55 miles per hour was imposed by the Federal Government by way of the Emergency Highway Energy Conservation Act in 1974 to cut back gasoline consumption. The limits had been raised to 65 mph in 1987 and repealed in 1995. There is little proof that the decrease pace limits resulted in important nationwide gas financial savings.

As freeway infrastructure is changed and the quantity of robotic automobiles improve proportionally, most pace limits will disappear on a state degree.


Driver and passenger security have elevated dramatically in recent times via higher car design and the use of automatically-deploying airbags. Automatic high-beam management of lights are presently commonplace on many automobiles, and the night time imaginative and prescient capabilities with computerized pedestrian detection on luxurious fashions could also be commonplace by 2025. Rear-mounted radar and multi-directional, multi-sensing cameras are already showing in luxurious fashions of cars, and can doubtless change into commonplace in future years.

Automatic emergency steering techniques combining braking and evasive steering will scale back or keep away from harmful collisions sooner or later. Nissan Motor Corporation is among the many corporations growing units to detect a driver’s incapability to soundly function a car – sensors that detect alcohol, cameras to watch facial expressions, or software to acknowledge erratic driving – for eventual use.

Driver Passenger Safety

Final Word

Automobiles of the long run might be as completely different from at this time as the primary cars differed from the horse and buggy. Driverless automobiles might be considerably extra energy-efficient, safer, much less damaging to the surroundings, and extra economical to function than any mode of transportation within the human expertise.

The transition to the long run of autos won’t be fast, taking a minimum of a dozen or extra years to interchange the present fleet of cars within the nation. Rebuilding the nation’s highways and roads to accommodate the brand new technology is more likely to take even longer because the nation’s leaders wrestle with conflicting nationwide priorities. The tempo of technological enchancment will proceed to extend, however the advantages of these enhancements will not be more likely to be absolutely realized till 2050 or later.

What predictions do you’ve got relating to the long run of cars?

Back to top button