Guest Post: Cars of The Future – Possibilities

Forty years ago, “The
Jetsons” imagined the future as a time when people zipped around in
spaceship-like flying cars. Cars that then inexplicably folded up into a
briefcase-sized package to be carried into the office, oh so conveniently.
While we may not
have reached the flying car stage yet (and the laws of physics will probably
prevent the fold-up car from ever happening), vehicles have come a long way
since the first Model Ts rolled off the assembly line. And with new
technological innovations taking place every day, we can only expect more
developments and awe-inspiring features to come. Check out some of these ideas
that experts expect to appear on cars in the coming years.

Super Gas Mileage

These days, the
Toyota Prius hybrid car sets the gold standard for fuel economy, averaging
around 60 miles per gallon with combined city/highway driving. Carmakers are
looking to topple that efficiency giant, researching new ways to improve gas mileage.
And with gas near $4 a gallon these days, efficiency is of the utmost
importance to consumers.
For example,
Volkswagen is testing an ultra-fuel efficient model, the XL1, expected to go
into production in 2014. The XLI rates at an astonishing 235-mpg with combined
highway and city driving. However, that amazing mileage does come with some
sacrifices, most notably speed and size. If the test models are any indication,
though, expect cars to become more compact, lighter and more aerodynamic in the
future, all in an effort to reduce fuel consumption.

Supercharged (And Efficient) Cars

Volkswagen’s ultra-efficient concept car might sacrifice power for efficiency,
other carmakers are looking for ways to maintain the powerful engines that
consumers want in sports cars while maintaining efficiency. Chevrolet, for
example, is experimenting with combining turbocharged engines with eAssist
technology to create 150-hp cars that get 40 mpg or more. Expect cars in the
future to combine high-level technology with good, old-fashioned muscle to
produce a fast, powerful ride that sips fuel.

Super Technology

Every car in
production now includes an onboard computer diagnostics system and many models
include features like LCD screens for navigation and onboard entertainment. You
should expect even more technological developments in the future. Carmakers are
developing systems that monitor the driver’s health, for example, using sensors
in the seats and steering wheels. If the vehicle senses your blood pressure is
too high, for example, it will disable the cell phone and radio to help get you
calm and lower your stress level. Carmakers will continue to add features that
increase the comfort and safety of the driver and passengers.

Alternative Fuels

Let’s face us
Americans love big, powerful machines, but the bigger and stronger these
cars get, the more fuel they use. Ninety five percent of all cars use
petroleum-based fuel, fuel that’s often imported from other countries. Because
of the issues inherent in the import of foreign oil, carmakers are looking for
alternative means to power cars.
Expect carmakers
in the future to develop vehicles that run on non-petroleum based fuels, like
hydrogen and bio fuels, such as those made from corn (ethanol). Electrically
and battery operated cars are also possibilities in the future. Experts believe
that the current electrical grid can easily sustain millions of electric cars
being plugged in each night, especially if we turn to alternative sources of
electricity, such as solar and wind. 
Researchers are also looking for ways to transfer the technology behind
lithium ion batteries, which have revolutionized the computer and cell phone
industries, into vehicles, creating a power source that is infinitely available
and renewable.
While the
Jetsons may have envisioned a future in which cars flew and were easy to park,
and there is no telling what the century will bring. For now, though,
manufacturers are focusing on making cars more efficient and conserving the
resources we have, so that such a future is even possible.
This post was written and contributed by Edson
Farnell. Edson writes about various automotive topics
. Many of Edson’s friends refer to him as the Auto Parts Geek due to him
turning to for parts such as
Partsgeek radiators.
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