VOL. 21 November ISSUE YEAR 2020

MFN Trainer Column

in Vol. 21 - November Issue - Year 2020
What Will Tomorrow's Car Be?
Thomas Dallem

Thomas Dallem

As a car enthusiast since my youngest age, this is a question that I ask myself and that many people ask themselves.
I still remember my first collector car as a child, a Ferrari F40 1/18 ! ! I also remember my first visit to the Frankfurt Motor Show. At that time, my father was working for an automotive supplier who had a booth at the show. As a "privileged" guest, I had access to the booths of the different car manufacturers even before the doors were opened to visitors. Since then, the automotive industry has been constantly evolving and is entering a new era.
The automotive industry is undergoing one of the biggest changes in its history, driven in part by an ecological necessity requiring a drastic reduction in particle and greenhouse gas emissions and by the rise of ever more advanced technologies. By 2025, the automotive landscape will have changed almost entirely, according to the opinion of carmakers and equipment manufacturers.
The car of tomorrow should follow the following major trends: it will be electric, autonomous, connected.
The revolution has already begun with the arrival on the market in recent years of models with hybrid technology, combining a combustion engine with one or more electric motors. This technology is still being improved and developed. Today, manufacturers are pushing the technology further and almost all offer 100% electric models in their catalogues.
This 100% electric technology is one of the main paths of development for cars manufacturers for the future. It poses considerable challenges, such as the production of batteries that will have to enable vehicles to obtain sufficient autonomy for practical use by users, whether they drive short or long distances. The infrastructure and accessibility of recharging points and recharging times will have a crucial role to play in this development. Today, even if the autonomy of this type of vehicle is increasing to some 600 km for the most efficient models, charging times are still long. As an intensive user of the car, travelling between 70,000 and 80,000 km per year, I couldn't afford to wait several hours every 500-600 km to be able to use my vehicle. 
This is the case for many users, especially sales people. On the problem of charging time, the technology of hydrogen-powered vehicles could change the situation. In fact, the recharging time in compressed hydrogen would be close to the time needed to fill a thermic vehicle with fuel.
The production cost and therefore ultimately the purchase price of this type of vehicle should also be as close as possible to that of a conventional vehicle. This will probably be done thanks to the effects of scale and synergies that will allow a reduction in costs.
Tomorrow's car will be autonomous. It is perhaps the most spectacular revolution announced. Will the car be able to drive without a driver? This revolution has started and will be carried out in stages. The first two stages have already been passed with the appearance of speed regulators (adaptive or not) and driver assistance systems that already allow drivers in certain situations (traffic jams, parking manoeuvres) to no longer touch the steering wheel and pedals. Engineers are working to replace human eyes with cameras and sensors in order to make the vehicle as autonomous as possible. Safety issues then arise with regard to the reliability of the systems and liability in the event of incidents or accidents. These technologies would nevertheless make it possible to envisage car travel in a different way.
Tomorrow's car will be connected. Indeed, in order to make the right decisions, it will be connected with objects and humans. To make it partially or completely autonomous, the car will have to be connected and be able to exchange information with the outside world. It will have to know the traffic, the weather, the state of the vehicle, etc... It will also be able to communicate with other vehicles and infrastructures (roads, buildings). It will have access to multiple connected services that will be at the service of passengers (wifi, cloud, multimedia, entertainment). The car will be a place of consumption in its own right, and a place of work as well.
It seems that in a few years electric and hybrid vehicles will have completely replaced thermic vehicles. Many challenges remain to be met, whether technological, industrial or even legislative, but the transition is already underway. Hopefully, all these technological advances will not take anything away from the pleasure of driving and will still leave car enthusiasts with the emotions that cars can provide. For my part, my car dreams are more about old-timers like an AC Cobra or a Ford Mustang Fastback "Eleanor", than a totally silent and autonomous car...but you have to live with the times.

For questions contact: thomas@mfn.li

Author: Thomas Dallem