With the words of John Lydon, MotorChase starts this series of articles humbly stating “I could be wrong”, but also implying “I could be right”. And this will be my effort in thinking about what seems to be emerging for the automobile, the industry that produces it and the consumers as a whole. A true car revolution waits just ahead of us.
Since its creation, the car has been basically the same thing: a self propelled vehicle equipped with four wheels, a steering wheel, pedals and an internal combustion engine. At least that was the formula that won the initial dispute over what was really feasible in the 1890s. And the best way to accumulate energy was with fuels. Electric cars have tried to prevail, but batteries were very inefficient and the game changer had not appear at the time: electronics.
Some carmakers, such as Mercedes-Benz, have tried to replace pedals and the steering wheel for joysticks, one in each side of the driver seat (for left and right-handed people), but that would imply every command of the car to be run “by wire”, with no mechanical connections to brakes and steering. So far, the only mechanical command drivers have accepted to give up has been the accelerator.
Airplanes, on the other hand, have adopted by wire commands for a long time now. And they constitute “the safest transportation means”, according to statistics. They also have autopilots, a feature that is on the verge of commercial presentation for cars and that still brings arises more doubts than answers. And are only one of the many revolutions the car world is about to face.
None of the changes that will be discussed in this series is a futurology exercise. All of them can be implemented right away. The technology needed for that is not the issue. Economic, legal and usage and customs questions are much more important to make them a reality. Please join me in this fascinating journey to foresee a new model of mobility.