Opinion: The future of the automobile
It's not as dark as you might think
Photo courtesy of: avoidingregret.com
THE DAY THE ENGINES DIED
When will the axe fall on the automotive world as we know it? Abolishing the internal combustion engine and requiring people to purchase fully autonomous, electric cars will not happen in one instance. It will be a gradual thing, much like how the car replaced the horse as the primary mover of people in the United States. Those members of the citizenry that do not want to hold on to their smelly old gas powered car will be the first to gladly trade up to a new "smart" car. Gearheads and car lovers will resist this until the end, but there will be an end. There will come a time when you will not be able to drive a gas powered "dumb" car on any public street in the country, but I suspect no current drivers license holder will be alive to experience that. I've heard a number of scenarios put forth by people that range from a 1000% tax on fuel, to the systematic closing of roads to "dumb" cars, but I don't really think the demise of familiar cars will come about in any kind of punitive nature. The drawdown will be incremental and most likely voluntary on consumers part. It's hard to say when this fundamental change in American society will occur, but it's probably not going to be a specific day that we can point to.
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia
... UNLESS, OF COURSE, THAT HORSE IS A FERRARI.
What will car lovers do when those changes come about? To answer that all we need to do is look at what happened to the aforementioned horse. Horse's, in case you didn't know, did not actually go exstinct in the 1920's. In fact, according to the USDA there were about 20 million of them in 1920. After a number of years complaining amongst themselves about how cars had taken their jobs the population had fallen to 4.5 million in 1959. They must have been able to find new employment, because by 2005 there was an estimated 9 million of them. The second most interesting thing about those statistics is the fact that a animal that seemingly has no use, has had a population increase. The most interesting (or disturbing) thing about it is that the government agency responsible for insuring the nation's food supply is good is also tracking the horse population for some reason. I wonder just how soon in the interview process to be a horse census taker the question about one's ability to cut a carrot comes up? My point, of course, is that we do live in a free country and the likelihood of cars being abolished is pretty slim. As long as a free market economy exists, then their will be people that attempt to provide for that market.
Above pictures: The first two: M1 Concourse courtesy of m1concourse.com. The second two are of The Thermal Club courtesy of their FaceBook page and the last picture is of Carolina Motorsports Park courtesy of their FaceBook page.
A PASTURE OF THEIR OWN...
Just like horses made their way to the countryside, so will cars. So will the people that love cars. The proof of this, in the form of Automotive Country Clubs, is already a reality. The three that I am aware of seem to be pretty neat things. The M1 Concourse in Pontiac, MI will sell you a garage space complete with kitchen, bathroom, workshop space and a track view. Ownership grants you access to the race track and attendance to the numerous events that are hosted during the favorable weather months. The Thermal Club in, wouldn't you guess it, Thermal, CA offers luxury homes with access to three different road tracks, a maintenance staff and they host a number of events every year as well. Lastly, Carolina Motorsports Park, in Kershaw, SC, offers people the chance to go around their track for a day event. It's probably pretty safe to assume that eventually places like these will start to become the destination for automotive events. In fact, I don't think it would be a stretch to think places like these may become so intertwined with cars that, one day, people will not be able to think about cars and these auto parks as ever being a separate thing. "Drive a car down Main Street, that's crazy!"
SEMA Show 2017 Photo courtesy of SEMA FaceBook page.
SETTLE DOWN NOW!
The automotive aftermarket is worth over $486 billion. Any industry that large isn't going away overnight. I have been unable to get a number that accurately represents just how large a percentage of the economy would be affected by instantaneously shutting down the internal combustion engine. If I had to guess I'd say something like 100%. Fundamentally changing how a society operates doesn't (or shouldn't) happen overnight in the 21st Century. The process will be a gradual change in how people live their lives. You see, in reality, all that's happening is the natural progression of time. So hop in your ride and...
Keep on Cruisin'!
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Art by: Chris Breeden
About the Author:
"Chris Breeden is a Social Media content creator for Custom & Hot Rod Life on DRIVETRIBE, YouTube and Facebook. After spending 5 years in Southern California, a.k.a. Hot Rod Heaven, while serving as a jet engine mechanic in the United States Marine Corps, he moved back home to Tennessee with an even greater love for Hot Rodded Vintage Tin. Since then he has worked in retail sales and the transportation and logistics industry. In 2018, seeing a gap in Hot Rod and Custom Car coverage on DRIVETRIBE, Chris began advocating for their inclusion on the platform. During the summer months, he can be found all over the Tennessee region covering car shows, meets, and cruise-ins. During the winter months, he can be found in the garage working on his custom 1949 Ford two-door sedan and 1954 F100 truck."