We are in the midst of a technological revolution in the auto industry. The amount of change in the last five years has probably outpaced what we’ve seen in the last 50. The next five years could change it all again.
Remember when seat belts and air conditioning were considered big developments in the car world? Then came cruise control and heated seats. I, for one, lost my marbles when I finally owned a car that could unlock with the push of a button.
Now I don’t even need keys to unlock, or start, my car. Heck, I don’t even need gasoline any more. My Nissan Leaf, though, hasn’t even begun to crack the surface of what’s coming.
Tesla, the little auto startup from California, is leading the revolution. Its electric cars are on the road to full autonomy with ever-increasing driving ranges. My Leaf has a 30 kWh battery pack and is good for about 115 miles. Pretty impressive. The newest Tesla Model S P100D, though, has a 100 kWh pack good for 315 miles.
Things are changing, and fast.
Tesla isn’t the only innovator, of course. Uber and Lyft are redefining car ownership and partnering with major automakers to implement self-driving ride-share technology, while Ford recently said it would go a step further and introduce cars that drive themselves without any human-operated controls.
Even cars that use gasoline are changing. BMW has unveiled its first 4-cylinder 7 Series, a proposition that would have seemed ludicrous five years ago. That car uses a gasoline engine with TwinPower Turbo technology paired with an electric motor for a combined system output of 322 horsepower.
Ford’s EcoBoost engines have brought turbocharging into the mainstream. Even the coming GT500 is rumored to come with an EcoBoost V8, with enough horsepower to take the crown from the 707-hp Dodge Hellcat twins.
The next five years should bring more power and efficiency, along with breakthroughs in electric propulsion and fully autonomous transportation.
The automotive market five years from now may be unrecognizable when compared to the market of just 10 years ago. In fact, my brand-new Leaf will probably be considered a quaint relic of a not-too-distant past.
What kind of car do you think you’ll have five years from now?