Cars2Buy.co.uk recently put together an infographic on the five stupidest cars of all time. It’s amazing that the past 100 years of motoring has produced so many great ideas, yet also so many terrible ones – look at the 1899 Horsey Horseless, for example, which stuck a wooden horse’s head on the front of motor-driven carriage. Did inventor Uriah Smith not realise that, in hindsight, this might seem a little silly and backward?
However, what our research also brought to light is that it’s often impossible to predict which innovations will, in fact, revolutionise motoring. It’s not hard to believe that Ford had the best intentions in mind when it invented the long-forgotten ‘wrist-twist’ steering system in the 1960s. By the same token, it’s not inconceivable that the airbag might have been written off by cynics long before it became a practical – and potentially life-saving – safety device.
For an example of this phenomenon in action, you only have to look to driverless cars. A few years ago most of us would have written them off as the stuff of science fiction, but now there are very real, multimillion-pound plans to put autonomous automobiles on the UK’s roads.
In summary, predicting the future of motoring is far from a simple task. But by looking at some of the predominant trends of the past few years, we can nonetheless get a good idea of the features that tomorrow’s cars might have. In this article, we’ll be discussing a few of the innovations that might well cause a paradigm shift in the automotive world, changing the way we look at our vehicles forever.
The days in which all cars were reliant on fossil fuels are long-gone – we’ve had electric and hybrid vehicles for years now, and the technology is improving all the time. It’s not inconceivable that these alternative drivetrains might one day power a significant proportion of the global car parc.
That’s assuming they’re not usurped by other alternative energies, however. There’s been a buzz around hydrogen fuel cell-powered vehicles for a while now, with major manufacturers like Toyota all showing a keen interest in getting this technology off the ground. Supposedly, hydrogen fuel cells are enormously efficient for motorists – they can be charged in minutes, providing hundreds of miles of driving time – and also entirely emission-free. We’ll need to invest in a lot of infrastructure to power them, though.
Right now, we’re well on our way towards a future in which everything – whether a mobile phone, laptop computer or household appliance – is connected to the internet. This is dubbed ‘the internet of things’ and is hotly tipped to be one of the biggest technological developments of the 21st century.
It applies to cars, too. Imagine a world in which vehicles communicate with one another automatically, navigating around one another without the driver lifting a finger. Or one in which your ride downloads a real-time traffic report and uses this information to calculate the perfect route.
Safety is one of the biggest drivers of innovation in the automotive industry, so it’s pretty much a given that we’ll continue to see amazing new technologies in this area as time winds on. Even today we have highly advanced collision avoidance and emergency braking systems, as well as pedestrian airbags and other safety features that were unheard of a couple of decades ago.
What’s next? Well, we’ll probably see even greater use of advanced sensors to monitor environmental factors both inside and outside of a car thereby determining if it’s safe to drive. Your next vehicle might be able to detect whether you’re over the drink drive limit through an automatic breath test, for example.