Cars at the moment are incredible machines. They’ve been through more than a century of development, and we’ve reached the stage where tiny little hatchbacks can have approaching 400hp, and get to 62mph faster than Ferraris of only a few years ago (hello Mercedes A45!).
But time stops for no man, and the pace of automotive development is such that things are changing faster now than they have throughout the history of the automobile (at least, they probably are… I’m no historian).
So just what does the near future hold for cars?
For starters, petrol and diesel are on the way out. (And after the whole VW #Dieselgate fiasco, perhaps that’s even truer for diesel…)
Okay, sure, they’re very slowly on their way out – they’ll be around for a long time to come. But you’d have to be blind to have missed the great shift in the industry over recent years, towards hybrids and electric vehicles.
And you can understand why it’s happening.
All those fumes expelled and fuel wasted by cars trundling along in city traffic, it’s not good. Expensive, aside from anything else. Whereas hybrids, in the same situation, would be no worse for the planet (in that moment) than your smartphone.
Which is awesome. But hybrids, as the McLaren P1 and Porsche 918 have taught us, can also be great fun.
Already, the BMW i8 and Honda NSX have brought the entry point to hybrid fun down to sports car levels. And if you’ve ever had a go in the VW Golf GTE, you know that even family car hybrids can be remarkably entertaining.
Expect cars of the near future to get even more efficient, and even more fun, then.
Another cool development is in-car connectivity. Long-gone are the days when you had to rely on terrible car manufacturer voice recognition, and perhaps a CD of your music.
Now, we have CarPlay and Android Auto (arguably, making car makers’ expensive in-built sat nav systems
These systems can make using your car’s infotainment functions as easy as using your phone. And they are being paired with increasingly impressive hardware.
Just take a peek inside the cabin of the new E-Class, and marvel at its Tron-inspired pair of glass-encased 12” screens. Or pretty much any recent Audi model, with their Virtual Cockpits.
Pretty soon, we’ll have OLED displays wherever we look, replacing traditional side mirrors, even, gesture control for everything from stereo control to navigation, and even giant head-up displays.
If Land Rover get their way, we might even be able to see ‘through’ the bonnets of our cars for tight manoeuvring…
Of course, perhaps the biggest development in automotive technology is the rise of the autonomous car. Already, Tesla has
Essentially, these cars are already autonomous, albeit with some cautious safeguards installed by their respective manufacturers.
But 2020 is often mooted as the year when autonomous cars will truly take off. And if at first this seems like a system that will take the fun out of driving, then you couldn’t be more wrong.
Just think – other motorists (including the ones that can’t drive well…) won’t actually be driving. Their cars will. So you – as someone who actually might enjoy driving – will take over control of your car, and be at much reduced risk of having some numpty granny in her ancient Honda Jazz careen into the back of you, or turn in front of you without warning.
Which is pretty awesome.
And then, once you reach your destination, you can tell your car to go find its own parking space.
The future is coming, ladies and gentleman, and it has the potential to be great!