Petrol and diesel cars are on their way out – but what else can we bring in?
In an effort to help clean up air quality in the UK, the government has banned the sales of all new petrol and diesel cars after 2040. The idea is that by 2050, almost every vehicle using UK roads will be zero emission – basically electric or hydrogen propelled like the Toyota Mirai.
We know from a recent poll carried out on Which? Conversation that there are a range of reasons why you’re not rushing out to buy an electric car:
Whether you agree with the petrol/diesel ban or not, it made us think what else might be in the proverbial pipeline. 23 years is, after all, quite a way off.
Perhaps you think the future is proper autonomous cars. Or perhaps vehicle subscriptions replacing ownership, flying machines, tunnels that transport cars (yep, tunnels move you, you don’t drive in the tunnel).
Or do you foresee much less futuristic measures such as more congestion charge and car free zones?
Rise of the machines
When I went to the 2015 Frankfurt car show, the theme was connectivity. There was a lot of future star gazing and claims that cars in Europe will be largely autonomous by 2050.
I’m not sure how I feel about autonomous cars. Mostly because I enjoy driving, and partly because I’m hesitant at the moment to relinquish full control to a car.
But I can see the benefits of autonomy. Cars that require no input to move themselves. That might sound obvious but it opens realms of possibilities – being able to call your car to your location regardless of where you are. Or even a car that drops you off at home and then finds a car parking space that’s a while away.
Or if your car is low on electricity (or even hydrogen, depending on what you think the fuel of the future might be), you can make it toddle off to your nearest charging point when you’re not using it and it returns when it’s full. Sorted. Right?
Alternatively, you could swap ownership of a car to a subscription. In my mind, it would work by signing up to a car brand. Then you simply programme in your journeys, and a car from that brand will take you where you want to go, or call it on the spot, Uber style, and wait for a car to turn up.
The pros: no maintenance costs, no need to have a driveway or parking.
The cons: potential waiting times, maybe fines for leaving a car dirty. Accidentally leaving something in the boot suddenly becomes a lot more problematic and it would be a bit of a pain to transfer, say, a child seat from car to car.
Of course, there’s the prospect of moving up in the world – perhaps building on tech like this Flyboard.
Perhaps a safer option would be autonomous drones large enough to transport people. But if people like myself are hesitant to trust a self-driving car, a self-flying drone will require quite the leap of confidence.
But anything flying will naturally be affected by bad weather – so how do you eliminate that?
Elon Musk’s latest idea is to dig. The ‘Boring company’ envisions large tunnels being dug under cities, cars being lowered to it on lifts and then transported at high speeds on sleds.
Claimed benefits: alleviates congestion, potentially super quick journey times, tunnels are weatherproof, no practical limit to how far we go down/how many layers of tunnels are created.
The problem: Boring company states tunnels are so expensive that the cost of creating them has to come down by a factor of ten to make them viable.
Boring says this will also help with Elon’s Hyperloop initiative, where people use high-speed pods to be whisked quickly from one point to another.
What do you think?
Do any of these ideas appeal? Do any seem vaguely feasible? Or do you think our future is simply a nationwide sprawling quagmire of congestion charge zones and battling over local EV points?