Oh where are you going, automobile industry?

It has been almost exactly one hundred years since Henry Ford developed the mass production of cars. “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”[1] In 2013, more than eighty million cars rolled out of all automobile factories around the globe.[2] Altogether there are more than one billion cars roaming around the world’s streets and highways today. The production has been perfected with many different industries ensuring the on-time delivery of one of the most important products society knows. Looking one hundred years ahead the question to pose really is: what path will you choose automobile industry? What will you look like in 2100?

Electricity, hybrid, driverless cars?

The increasing costs of resources crucial for car manufacture are putting more and more pressure on the industry.[3] On top of that are environmental problems that are ought to be tackled rather sooner than later. Thus, change is due if the leading car brands wish to continue producing on large scale in the future. While many say the countdown to an oil-free world is running down quickly, others say this is nonsense and predict oil to be around for a long time coming. In any way, the electric car is a main candidate in the search for alternative driving. So could be the hybrid. Many experts claim that half petrol, half electricity could present itself as the predominant engine of this century. Originally, many believed that the hybrid would only provide the solution for a brief transitional period – between fuel and electricity. But taking energy from two instead of only one source does ease the burden.

A hacker’s paradise

Another current hype is the driverless car. The Google cars have covered more than 700.000 kilometres “by themselves” - most people will never actually drive this much in their entire life.[4] Equipped with software, driverless cars can measure all kinds of significant parameters needed for safe travelling through traffic. Therefore, the “drive train” could become reality, a line of cars driving at the same speed with very little distance between them. Accident rates are supposed to be minimal because machines hardly ever make mistakes. But machines and computer do make mistakes. We all know that planes and rockets have crashed because of programming flaws. So driverless cars sure will make mistakes, too. What if hackers find a way to manipulate the software operating the cars? And most important who will take over responsibility for accidents? When asking these questions, it becomes clear that the driverless car is still quite far away from reality. However, so were planes and television at some point as well. Ah well, it’s all very exciting, isn’t it?

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