In the Year 2020: A Glimpse Into the Future

So what can we expect to see in showrooms a dozen years or so from now? We can’t make any definitive announcements about futuristic designs at this point, but a couple of recent news items on the web give us some idea of what we’ll find under the hoods of some of our favorite cars in the year 2020. And what we’ll see from some automakers, and in some countries, is an almost complete turn away from fuels that produce carbon emissions, and a widespread adoption of fuel-efficient alternatives.

Toyota, for instance, is currently the leader when it comes to hybrid engines, and that trend will continue — so much so that by 2020, the entire Toyota fleet will be driven by hybrid engines, according to a report from the Motor Authority website. The site reports Masatimi Takimoto, Toyota’s vice president in charge of powertrain development, as saying that by 2020, 100 percent of Toyota’s cars will be hybrids. That will be possible because, as production of hybrid engines ramps up, the engines will be less costly to build, and will eventually become as cheap to produce as traditional gas engines.

Using current production numbers as a guide, that means Toyota will build more than 10 million hybrids a year by 2020. The automaker is expected to sell about 430,000 hybrids this year. No word yet on how much gasoline those 10 million hybrids will save, but we’re guessing it’s a pretty significant figure.

And it’s not just automakers that are making predictions about our worldwide automotive fleet in 2020. A report out of India — specifically, the government-produced National Hydrogen Energy Road Map — predicts that one million hydrogen-fueled vehicles will be on the country’s roads by 2020. Interestingly, the report states that most of those vehicles will be two- and three-wheeled vehicles, which does give us some idea of the designs we might see in the next decade (in India, at least).

The report also will guide India, and perhaps other countries as well, as it seeks to develop a hydrogen-based supply infrastructure. You’ll need places to fuel up those one million vehicles, for instance, so you’ll need hydrogen service stations and delivery modes. And it helps establish a goal for India’s five leading automakers, which will begin to gear up production of hydrogen-fueled vehicles. Perhaps it’s time to consider establishing similar guidelines for U.S. automakers and infrastructure.

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