- Photo by Jp Valery on Unsplash. Text, art and errors by: Chris Breeden

Opinion: The future of the automobile

It's not as dark as you might think

Photo courtesy of: avoidingregret.com

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

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.

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

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."

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Comments (12)

  • The transportation is surely bound to end up advancing, you certainly can`t stop progress However... We are in 2019 currently, in spain the cheapest used EV goes up to 11-12k with a basic range of 210km and a "fast" recharge time of 30 minutes, I don`t mind electric cars for city driving since that would allow me to rest A LOT better and not having to drink a couple coffe cups on the morning would surely improve my mood.

    However... you can buy a used Diesel for half of that price and get easily 800km of autonomy range, I know the cost per km etc.. but... when we will be able to buy a EV of Similar characteristics? will their battery be at top notch condition after 10 years running continously? will be able to fast charge in 5 minutes without damaging the battery life? Today we can`t do any of that, so far I agree that the change will be gradual but I don`t think the ICE engine will truly die since there`s affordability and range which keep many people from making the pass to newer technologies.

    I think that in the end Petrolheads will just end up gathering on residential Neighborhoods away from the cities or near racetracks making the car culture more alive than ever, the cities will be mostly silent except for the people talking and the ocasional Roadwork but places like the desert,countryside... they surely will become more lively thanks to classic ICE cars or modern supercars breaking the quiet of the desert making the culture survive (and inspiring young people is a thing bound to happen)

    As for electric cars, I think petrolheads will just use ICE as their fun cars to drive during the weekend or trough the week on their free time, Electrics/hydrogen will now become the conmon conmuters on the road, but hey... sooner or later this new EV/Hydrogen tech will get outaccelerated by something, who knows? Maybe on the future we will have actual flying cars and EV`s will be the ones abandoned on scrapyards or museums.

    PD:I`m one of the last born milenials and I`m certainly proud of having learnt to drive in a manual shitbox, I just feel bad for the younger people who will never know how fun is to drive manual on a curvy road controlling the car like a extension of your own body.

      11 months ago
    • All good points, Omega. I think you are right about how car lovers will come together more when faced with the difficulty of finding a place to drive their cars!

        11 months ago
  • I suspect that as traffic gets worse and worse (have you driven to L.A. from San Diego lately?), people will be glad to replace their ICE with an autonomous electric car. I will go one step further and say that may happen in my lifetime. FYI, this coming from someone who enjoys driving, but not in endless stop-and-go traffic. I am 65 and just bought a new ICE sports car (a Miata) — with a manual transmission, no less).

    As for the long term availability of gas for track days — or even just for spirited drives in the countryside, and to maintain the skill required to shift a manual transmission — at the car club, they still make film, even though digital has all but replaced it.

      11 months ago
    • Oh that 805 & 5 merge! I haven't had the pleasure of doing that since 2002! I would say you might be correct about autonomous cars in heavily populated areas, but in rural areas of the country the need isn't really there. I also agree that as long...

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        11 months ago
    • There is now no such thing as a morning and evening rush hour. The traffic is bad in and between Los Angeles and San Diego all day, seven days per week.

        11 months ago
  • the analogy between horses after the introduction of the automobile, and ICE cars "after EV" is flawed.

    All you need to make horses is two horses, a bit of grass (dried) and some time.

    To make gasoline though you need to go to the Earth edge, fight a war there, win, drill deep, ship it back, build a refinery.. not going to happen just to keep a few hobbyists in fun.

    If EVs take over, ICE will die. You don't have a steam powered car in the garage just for fun, do you? In a museum, yes.

      11 months ago
    • You do have a fair point about the reproductive cycle of horses, but if (& when) EVs supplant ICE cars, then the need for fuel to the hobby industry can be met by the oil wells and refineries that exists in the US.

        11 months ago
    • Well, I don`t think ICE will die as long we have a liquid that is inflamable & explosive, Diesel cars can run on cooking oil (without added fat to respect the filters) Gas cars somehow can run on alcohol or gas based fuels (with a notable...

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        11 months ago
  • I don't know, the title image is a bit under-exposed...😉

      11 months ago
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