Future of the car

From Academic Kids

The future of the car is a controversial topic, with some advocates arguing that the car has no future, and others that the car will in the future supplant most other forms of transport.

There are significant challenges in the near future to continued use of the car:

  • Petroleum refining and car use are major factors in pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.
  • 70% of US oil production is consumed by cars and trucks. This is more due to the size, weight, shape and power of conventional cars than to necessity (See Messerschmitt KR200).
  • Cars are one of the most dangerous form of transport. 1 million people die each year in car accidents worldwide.
  • Increasing population and prosperity are increasing traffic congestion.

Technological Advances

There are many possible advances in technology that could influence the future of the car:

  • Hybrid cars and more advanced combustion engines (eg. gas turbines) will improve fuel efficiency. Toyota intends to have hybrid versions for all its models by 2012, including the hybrid Toyota Prius which is already available. Ford intends to make five hybrids available by 2008.
  • E911 compliant mobile phones required in the US by 2006 can be used to coordinate ridesharing.
  • Radio technology (DSRC) will permit on-board collision warnings.
  • The smart car and driverless car making driving easier and safer.
  • Cars linking up to form platoons and car-trains.
  • Dualmode cars platooning on a guideways or a Personal Rapid Transit system, such as ULTra, for increased speed, safety and economy.
  • Dualmode or cars able to platoon that use relatively small electric motors and fuel supplies or battery reserves for door-to-door service off electrically powered arterials.
  • Cars may be able to use low carbon fuels such as hydrogen, fuel cells, and electricity instead of the internal combustion engine. (see hydrogen car, electric vehicle).
  • Alternative fuels are being proposed : alcohol fuel, water (see hydrogen fuel), air (see air car), garbage, hemp oil, magnetism, solar power, Tesla electric cars (with no car batteries), and high speed electric cars (freeway-capable).
  • Nanotechnology enhanced cars will be stronger than steel which can help to reduce weight and better protect passengers.
  • The potential application of magnetic levitation to transportation has been known since the 19th century but no maglev guideways with off-line stations for on-demand, independent travel are under development. In the open air at high speeds, aerodynamic drag far dominates rolling friction so Maglev does not solve any key problems but introduces many costs and challenges.

External links

The Hydrogen Economy: Opportunities, Costs, Barriers, and R&D Needs (2004) National Academy of Engineering (NAE), Board on Energy and Environmental Systems (BEES) (


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