There are those who can’t wait for a time when every car on the road is powered by an electric motor. And there are those who dread a future without internal combustion engines. But what if I told you, the future will be a happy medium of electric power and rumbling V8s.
Allow me to elaborate by demonstrating the following three points:
1. Be Honest About Gasoline Power
First, we have to be honest about what gasoline power means in the automotive industry. I think we can all agree that 99% of the vehicles we see on public roads on a daily basis can be classified simply as means of transportation. The average joe who buys a Honda Accord doesn’t care about how much power it makes, how fast it gets to 60mph, or what kind of sound it makes. They care about fuel economy, and statistically, the color!
The emotional and experiential aspect of a fun sports car is missing in the majority of the vehicles manufactured today. And that is fine. So for the majority of automobile owners and users in the world, switching from gasoline to electric makes very little difference, if any.
2. Difference Between Driving a Fast Car, and Driving a FUN Car
I reviewed a Tesla Model 3 a while back. And while I was amazed by the jaw-dropping instant acceleration, the ‘cool factor’ eventually wore off. And what I was left with was a car that does everything it can to disengage with your senses. Heck, it even drives itself if you want it to! But when I got back into my two-seater roadster, a far slower car in a straight line, I was truly having fun again.
Like I always mention in my design reviews, the driving experience makes up 40% of the entire design of an automobile. And as long as we’re on this earth, there will be a desire for a visceral driving experience that engages all of your senses, and keeps you feeling alive. And that’s about a lot more than how fast you get from point A to point B. It’s about what you HEAR, what you SEE, and what you TOUCH, and how you interact with your machine between point A and point B.
3. Auto Industry Follows Racing
History always repeats itself. When it comes to the automotive industry, motor racing has always been a peek into the future. So let’s look at the current landscape of racing. At the pinnacle, we have Endurance Racing (LeMans), Formula E, and Formula 1. Endurance Racing and Formula 1 have similar powertrain setups, utilizing hybrid technology which includes electric motors, turbochargers, and small internal combustion engines. Formula E uses fully electric powertrains, which means shorter races, due to the battery’s range.
The over 1000-horsepower, 1.6-liter V6 turbo/hybrid power plants of F1 demonstrate just how powerful and efficient an ICE can be. While the highly capable Formula E units show us the wonders of the simplicity of an EV.
So what will we be driving in 2050?
Some see a future where internal combustion and non-autonomous cars become novelty items, much like horses have become a luxury in the era of the automobile. And that future may yet become a reality, but I suspect we have at least until the end of this century for that to be the case.
The landscape of the automotive industry in 30 years is going to be made up of over 90% EVs. The remainder will contain highly advanced ICE units, perhaps in congruence with electric motors. But there will undoubtedly be room for those who seek the unmatched adrenaline of driving an engaging sports car.
And as we get deeper into the age of the EV and autonomous vehicles, more folks will continue to ditch gasoline for electricity. But for those of us who appreciate a fun Sunday drive, the love for a pure driver’s car will grow even stronger.