Here are a trio of stories that add up the sea-change of which we are in the midst.
The Guardian reports that more and more cities are banning cars. Car and Driver reports that eight states and five countries including Holland want to end the use of ICE cars by 2050. And finally, Automotive News reports that Hyundai want to make their own chips for their vehicles. That would be for autonomous vehicles.
The last time there was a major change in transportation modes was when the car was introduced. They were not unusual around 1900 in the US and by 1925-1930 they had outnumbered horses in the US. So, the transition period lasted three decades approximately. The Toyota Prius was introduced in 1997 and the Honda Insight in 2000 so those are the first moves towards a change of engine technology.
The Tesla roadster appeared in 2006 and the S in 2012 marking another important step. We can view GM’s EV-1 from 1996 and Honda’s EV from 1997 as unsuccessful first steps towards battery-powered cars. Taking these vehicles as a group, we can say we are half way through a new shift to non-ICE vehicles.
Turning to the other side, demand, the Guardian’s article points to a shift in how cars are accommodated. I would argue that banning cars from localised areas merely shifts their use else where, but the politics are significant. Even more significant is that more and more states want to be rid of ICE vehicles entirely and this is where one can wonder about the 2050 goal discussed as a target date.
I would suggest that since we are already 15 years into the phase where non-ICE cars become more and more normal, the year 2050 is really a statement of intent that will be revised into the nearer term in the coming years. How about 2030, which is thirty years after the first alternative vehicles were introduced?
The third part of the story is that Hyundai are confident that autonomous vehicles are the way forward and don’t want to be reduced to something the equivalent of the maker of casings for toaster elements. That is what might happen to makers who are not in charge of the electronic hardware that is going to be inside the cars made in the future.
All this indicates a future where autonomous, electric vehicles will be the main means of personal transport and even then their use might be circumscribed to extra-urban areas.