By on July 25, 2017

(Public domain)

All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. No doubt some of you will recognize that little speech, even if you’re not quite of the correct generation to have seen Blade Runner in the theater. It was on my mind as I sat in my father’s office yesterday and talked to him about the value of my Porsche 993.

“Sell the car and invest the money for your son,” he suggested, before leaning back in his chair and clarifying, “Of course, right now you’d have trouble finding an investment that is doing as well as that car.” The man has a point. I don’t think we’ve hit Peak Aircooled Value yet, as ridiculous as that sounds — but that time will come, and on the other side of that singular moment will be a free-fall into the abyss.

Not just for my 993. Not just for the Boss 302 formerly owned by my brother. It will swallow everything. My car. Bark’s car. Your car. Ralph Lauren’s McLaren F1. Every Hemi ‘Cuda ever made and every Ferrari F40. They will all become utterly, completely worthless. Like scrap metal worthless. You know it’s going to happen. But would you believe that you’ll live to see it? Because chances are that you will.

It’s the end of the world as we know it, and it’s going to be here sooner than you think.

There is a perfect storm coming. And, just like any perfect storm, it’s comprised of several different forces.

Force Zero: the end of internal combustion as a legal means of getting around

The looniest of the social-democracy Euro-countries are pushing for “gasoline freedom” in ten years. The minute they successfully make the transition, the rest of Europe will follow posthaste. Don’t make the mistake of thinking EU countries will delay these mandates because they recognize the obvious deficiencies of battery power for commercial and/or sustained use; they have a centuries-old tradition of “for me but not for thee” lawmaking that will leave diesel trucks free to crawl down the Autobahn in perpetual motion while you wait all afternoon at the Supercharger station for your next fill-up.

The United States will lag behind Europe in banning the private gasoline engine, but they won’t lag far. And again, look for corporate interests to be protected while yours are shamelessly violated. Archer Daniels Midland will be able to run diesel generators long after your uncle is forced to put his Fiat 124 Abarth into the barn at his country place.

Force One: the final triumph of urbanized society

The demographic shift to city living is all but complete. Like it or not, urban dwellers don’t need cars and they increasingly don’t even want cars.

Force Two: a dismal economic outlook for future generations

Your humble author’s delight in poking fun at the Millennial generation is well-documented but even I have to admit they’re facing a nightmare combination of declining job prospects and soaring asset prices. Economic power is flowing from labor to capital at a rate never before seen in human history.

Regardless of what you think about the published unemployment numbers, only a fool would assert that today’s 25-year-olds are going to have an easy time joining the middle class in any of the Western democracies. Meanwhile, the average age of the new-car buyer continues to climb. It’s almost certain that people in reduced economic straits are going to change from owners of automobiles to renters of “mobility” just as surely as today’s Millennials have been bait-and-switched from building wealth with their own suburban homes to paying rent on urban apartments. And if you’re just renting access to a transportation box, what do you really care about the powertrain?

Arguably, the gasoline-powered automobile could survive any two of these forces. If new cars are made illegal and everybody moves to the city but there’s still plenty of money to go around, you’ll have a trackday preservationist culture. If new cars are illegal and nobody can afford a car anyway, but people stay rural, you won’t have an all-electric fleet until those cars can truly outcompete used gas-powered cars in long-distance operation. And if everybody moves to the city and nobody has a job, but there’s no legal component, then we might see a hobby resurgence of cars built by next-generation, low-cost manufacturing techniques.

Don’t cross your fingers. The planets have aligned and it’s all over but the shouting. And there’s a fourth force that I haven’t bothered to mention. I call it “The Accordion Effect”. You see, prior to the rock n’ roll revolution the accordion was one of the most popular — some sources say the most popular — musical instrument in the United States. Once the kids saw how much cooler the guitar was, however, interest in the accordion died off seemingly overnight. The same thing is happening to guitars now, by the way; for the first time in decades, acoustic guitars are outselling electric models and the instrument as a whole is facing a profound lack of interest among a generation of children who have found that you can become a master of “EDM” in the same time it takes a novice guitarist to learn how to successfully play the “D” chord.

It’s no accident that the sports car and the electric guitar are so closely tied together in everything from pop culture to the multi-million-dollar collections of nearly every hyper-successful man born between 1945 and 1975. They are artifacts of an era that worshiped rebellion, individuality, reckless behavior, and conventional masculinity.

Cars and guitars were cool because the mastery of either could get you a girl or two. It doesn’t work like that anymore. We are all part of the Tinderverse now. While you’re out cruising the strip in your hot rod or perfecting the intro riff to a Zeppelin song, the girl of your dreams is racking up new partners at the rate of one every Saturday night, maybe more.

Corvettes, Porsches, even affordable cars like the Toyota 86? Nothing but accordions-in-waiting. Nobody’s falling in love with cars any more. Two generations from now, young people will find being enthusiastic about a mere automobile precisely as incomprehensible as forming a sexual obsession with one’s hot water heater. That, more than anything else, is what’s going to kill the automobile as we know it today.

If I told you that I had a better way to do your dishes, you wouldn’t spend ten seconds mourning your old Whirlpool or Asko washer. The same will be true of cars.

What, then, remains? Mobility. Choices. Commuting. Travel. A generation of young people who will get their thrills from a screen and a high-speed connection to the Net. Whatever thrill-kill culture that remains will focus on things like wingsuits and freeride mountain biking and the various legitimately exhilarating outdoor pursuits. I don’t mean to say it’s a bad thing. Let’s not get moral about something that in no way deserves a moral examination. Still, as I ponder our wheeled future, I can’t help feeling like a replicant on a rooftop somewhere.

I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Ferraris blazing down the back straight at Mid-Ohio. I watched headlights glitter in the dark near the Nurburgring Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time… to die.

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220 Comments on “No Fixed Abode: The Electric Horizon...”


  • avatar
    threeer

    Well, that’s chipper. Now I want to go out and hug my car.

  • avatar
    wintermutt

    Perhaps besides the point, Mr. Scott has a new Blade Runner movie coming out and it has Harrison in it!

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Have to say that JB is right. And the electric car is merely one of those technological bridges/sidesteps that occur. Much like zeppelins, pagers, 8-tracks, VCR’s and desktop computers. There is usually a stop-gap technology before the true replacement arrives.

    The current Lexus commercial shows the future. The self-driving vehicle. And it will be rented by the hour/car shared in probably the majority of instances.

    Demographics and technology are unstoppable, until the apocalypse.

    • 0 avatar
      pbx

      Carmageddon (tm registered)

    • 0 avatar
      Luke

      I’ve been trying to understand where the push towards electric, autonomous, shared vehicles is coming from. It seems like this technology rose very quickly and is now being forced upon us as “the way forward” by tech companies, the media, etc.

      From where I sit, I don’t feel like this bleak future being driven (ahem) by the economic and social forces that JB cites. While they certainly aid and abet the shift, it feels to me like the motive force is coming from somewhere else.

      Any thoughts, B&B? Maybe I’m a Luddite but it feels like this huge social change came out of nowhere and is now sort of put up as the defacto future. I just can’t figure out where the push is coming from.

      • 0 avatar
        Ubermensch

        Driving for most of us in the US is a chore and a significant expense. Autonomous electric vehicles have a market in those conditions.

        • 0 avatar
          JimZ

          exactly. enthusiasts are a small, self-selected group for whom “driving” is an end in itself. We need to remember that for the other 99% of the driving public, it’s a means to an end and nothing more.

      • 0 avatar
        Scott_314

        The saddest part, and the hardest part for us to accept, is that this is happening because younger generations are smarter than us, not dumber.

      • 0 avatar
        TW5

        @ Luke

        I agree. The future is not particularly bleak, and I suspect many older technologies will probably peacefully co-exist with whatever is coming down the pike.

        The huge social changes being foisted upon society are coming from older generations of political and social progressives who know what unspeakable horrors they’ve unleashed on the American middle class, in the form of terrible employment policy, disproportionate taxation (much too heavy on workers, much too light on machine hours), and the legalization of generational theft by relatively affluent seniors.

        If you are the devil himself, you can believe in no future but hell, and when people witness your power of destruction, they will start to believe it, too.

      • 0 avatar
        joeaverage

        Who wants to share a car with a bunch of strangers. It’ll be about as clean as a city bus or taxi.

        • 0 avatar
          stuki

          Touche!!!

          The saps being carted off to labor camps to pay of “their” “debts” and “their” “taxes”, may not have much of a choice on the matter, though.

  • avatar
    notapreppie

    I’m living this life, sort of.

    We have two cars only because one of them is my “racecar” (autocross and occasional trackday).

    My wife commutes a few miles from midtown to downtown on the train and it’s faster/easier than driving.

    I drive to work because while my job is “in the city” it’s not close to many public transit options and would require two trains and a bus. Driving knocks 90 minutes off my daily commute.

  • avatar

    ICE-propelled cars will be cool for a long time, which sounds contradictory since they contribute to global warming. This means that you can hang on to them for a very long time, until they reach classic status themselves like their predecessors before them. The only thing is that they will not be sold as new in many countries after 2025-2035. It will be forbidden to import them or sell them. And the U.S. car industry will fall even further behind, since Detroit will be allowed to produce and sell conventional cars, as if it is some constitutional right that cannot be violated. A bit like the right to bear arms.

    • 0 avatar
      2manycars

      ICE cars have nothing to do with “global warming” (or “climate change” or whatever the hucksters are calling it this week) which is a natural phenomenon.

      I really don’t care what young people or city folk want. As to what will happen from a legal perspective to running an ICE car in the U.S. I would not be too certain about them being outlawed. Although a lot has been done to make Americans submissive and pliable to their masters there are still a significant number who are not going to silently put up with it, and they vote.

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        Ladies and Gentlemen, the archetype of Unwarranted Self Importance. ^^

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        @2many: Do you also believe that the earth is flat, that the sun revolves around it, that humans, that dinosaurs co-habited the earth and that aliens built the pyramids?

        There is science and then there is pseudo-science which is ‘fake’.

        • 0 avatar
          JimZ

          Arthur, you’re wasting your time. You’ll never change the mind of someone who thinks he’s smarter than everyone else.

          • 0 avatar
            S2k Chris

            “You’ll never change the mind of someone who thinks he’s smarter than everyone else.”

            An ironic statement considering all of your replies to this article so far.

        • 0 avatar
          Big Al from Oz

          Arthur,
          I read an interesting article regarding many people who have views like Voyager.

          They have a tendency to live in a paracosm because the “real” world is awkward for them to manage.

          It stems from rejecting what they don’t want to believe as true, as it is shocking or uncomprehensible for them to manage.

          That’s why you have those that can fathom humans started out several billion years ago as single cell lifeforms.

          Or, as is in this case the world’s climate is changing due to human activity for millennia.

        • 0 avatar
          stuki

          ” There is science and then there is pseudo-science which is ‘fake’. ”

          ….And in progressive dystopias, where all worship is conducted in newspeak; no one, not even the anointed ministers themselves, are able to tell the difference anymore.

      • 0 avatar
        Add Lightness

        History will not be kind to the Flat Earth Society.

      • 0 avatar
        Zipster

        2many and his fellow Trumpsters know that if their god is wrong and climate change in not a “hoax” the effects will fall mostly on Asians and Africans of whom they couldn’t care less.

      • 0 avatar
        scott25

        “Climate change” is a natural process…that we’re accelerating to an unnatural rate through our actions.

        • 0 avatar

          Increased carbon dioxide is great for growing things like, oh say, food and trees (which, by the way, provide more oxygen for us to breathe). And you are most likely wrong about what you think I believe on this subject.

      • 0 avatar
        dont.fit.in.cars

        “Although a lot has been done to make Americans submissive and pliable to their masters there are still a significant number who are not going to silently put up with it, and they vote.”

        Or pick up a rifle.

    • 0 avatar
      TW5

      @ Voyager

      Cars are not responsible for the net increase in GHG. It is the way we requisition their fuel. If we transition to renewable gasoline, which is as simple (yeah right!) as eliminating the ethanol requirements for gasoline and mandating bio-gasoline blending instead.

      Anyway, the climate issues related to ICE-powered vehicles could be eliminated today, if we preferred.

    • 0 avatar

      “And the U.S. car industry will fall even further behind, since Detroit will be allowed to produce and sell conventional cars, as if it is some constitutional right that cannot be violated. A bit like the right to bear arms.”

      The oikophobia is strong with this one.

      How dare the proles have the liberty to do what they please? Don’t they know that commisars like voyager know what’s best for us?

  • avatar
    JimZ

    “while you wait all afternoon at the Supercharger station for your next fill-up.”

    I’m amused how people steadfastly insist that EVs *absolutely must* be recharged in the same manner gas cars are refueled.

    One of the main points of EVs is that *you don’t need to go somewhere for the express purpose of “filling up.”*

    I swear a lot of you cross your arms and pout “My daddy gassed up his car at the fillin’ station, my daddy’s daddy gassed up at the fillin’ station, and consarnit by cracky that’s what I’m gonna do!”

    • 0 avatar
      stingray65

      Jim Z – lots of people live in apartments and houses that don’t have outdoor plug-in capabilities, so they will be reliant on recharging stations. You also have to consider the “irrationality” of many buyers who will imagine an occasional cross-country trip that is delayed by hours because they have to wait in line at some recharging station. They may never take such a trip, or have such a problem, but the thought that they might drives their purchase decision in the same way that so many people today insist they need AWD because it might snow more than 3 inches 1 day next winter.

      • 0 avatar
        SaulTigh

        And don’t forget that, as an American, it’s my FUCKING right to get in my car and go as far as road food and gasoline can take me at ANYTIME. That kind of freedom is absolutely worth fighting for.

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        is it so inconceivable that as demand increases, apartment complexes might install charging station for their residents?

        • 0 avatar
          TMA1

          “is it so inconceivable that as demand increases, apartment complexes might install charging station for their residents?”

          I see apartments in the city where they install plywood over open windows rather than glass. The whole apartment lifestyle, at least where I live, is strictly divided between those who live in new luxury structures by choice and pay a hefty premium for the privilege, and those who live in aging and crumbling buildings because they have no other options (and fight with their absent landlords just to give their homes up to code). One of these groups will have their chargers installed, and pay a hefty monthly access fee, while the other will hang on to their aging LX cars. But that’s class warfare for the future (which will leave lots of people in the lurch).

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            I doubt anyone living in an apartment with boarded up windows is likely to buy an EV any time soon.

            oh wait, I forgot, this is TTAC. if an electric vehicle can’t meet the needs of someone living in a run-down apartment owned by an absentee slumlord, an electric vehicle can’t meet anyone’s needs.

          • 0 avatar
            TMA1

            Yeah, as I said, it’s a problem for the future. You do realize we’re talking about a post-ICE world, right? By the time that happens, used electric cars with depleted batteries will fall into the price range of the person in the unit next to the one with the plywood windows. No landlord, whether it’s a luxury apartment or a slum, wants to pay for upgrades.

        • 0 avatar
          statikboy

          “is it so inconceivable that as demand increases, apartment complexes might install charging station for their residents?

          It is not inconceivable, but look at all the apartment towers in London without in-apartment sprinklers. As was so dramatically and tragically illustrated just a few weeks ago. The tenants had asked for them, but the owners hadn’t seen a profit to be made.

          It’s a sad fact that most (all?) businesses are run on a “what’s in it for me?” basis. Invest the least capital to keep people interested, profit.

        • 0 avatar
          chuckrs

          Not inconceivable, but expensive, time consuming and difficult in urban environments. Does anyone have a good handle on an appropriate number of chargers for a building with “N” renters/owners? Or for that matter, the distribution infrastructure upgrades required for increased electric power capacity to meet the demand? Or for that matter, the number of new power plants to provide baseline power for all the new demand? If you switch from X million bbl/day gasoline consumption to Y gigawatt-hours consumption, that energy still needs to reliably come from baseline generation, something wind and solar haven’t achieved (but hydro has).
          I’d love to see the electric distribution grid repaired and upgraded, but you won’t love the bill when its presented.

      • 0 avatar
        LeMansteve

        “irrationality”

        Indeed. Car buying is rarely a rational process, although some are more rational than others. We generally buy the car we want instead of the car we truly need. Sunroof, leather seats, 200-300-400hp, $500 metallic paint job, appearance package, etc.

        • 0 avatar
          SaulTigh

          But those are choices we get to make. I know memories of the Soviet era are quickly fading, and the young have not a clue, but I vividly remember stories of people being on waiting lists for years for a Soviet car, and they took what they got when the time came.

          • 0 avatar
            geozinger

            “but I vividly remember stories of people being on waiting lists for years for a Soviet car, and they took what they got when the time came.”

            Sounds like a Honda dealer, ca. 1979…

          • 0 avatar

            I personally was in waiting list and it was not a Honda (I wish). Never got a car. In the end system collapsed and I could buy any car I wish. What happened with those in Honda waiting lists?

          • 0 avatar
            geozinger

            @Inside… My brother was on one of those lists. He got tired of waiting and bought a Dodge (Mitsubishi) Colt instead. A really neat car, especially for the times and the money. Others I knew stayed on the lists for months in some cases and just took whatever the dealer unloaded off of the truck. Did you want green? Sorry, silver is all I have. Next! And people put up with it. Only to have the front fenders rust off the things in two years (in my part of the country)…

    • 0 avatar
      Sam Hell Jr

      The nice thing about a bicycle as compared to an autonomous car is that you can tell it where to go without being a data point. Makes me wonder what they’ll do to boats, which can’t be stuck to digitally mapped roads.

      I’d say the real loss here will be the ability to head cross country on one’s own volition but the reality is that it’s just an idea to most of us. I’ll never have that much consecutive time off from work unless I’m unemployed. And few of us Americans haul off and leave town for good anymore.

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        I like how- when the topic is EVs- suddenly everyone in the goddamned country is a cross-country furniture delivery person.

        • 0 avatar
          TW5

          @ JimZ

          You should also consider the limitation of EVs for car-sharing, taxis, buses, and autonomous vehicles.

          Even if people are ridiculous in imagining cross country trips with a full bed of pea-gravel towing a 10,000lb speed boat they will never own; the industry limitations of EV’s are real. The limited range makes it incredibly difficult to convert taxis, police vehicles, buses, and city vehicles. It also interferes with autonomous vehicles driving endlessly in search of passengers, and the recharging times and available ranges significantly complicate car-sharing.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        Boats!!

        I forgot about boats. I bet they won’t outlaw those or make them fully autonomous. I’ll buy a boat.

        • 0 avatar
          pbx

          Feet. I bet they won’t outlaw those or make them fully autonomous either.

        • 0 avatar
          stuki

          Boats, at least ocean going ones, are generally expensive enough, that their ownership is highly concentrated amongst the banning, as opposed to banned-from, classes.

          Private planes burning gas/diesel/jetfuel, won’t be banned either. For the same reason. While drones with sufficient lifting capacity to haul people, once cheap enough, will be.

          Ditto even for cars. Those operated by the various security apparatus’, or that are otherwise in the tightly controlled employ of the classes doing the banning, will be able to burn diesel to their hearts’ content. All they have to do is say the progressive code phrase “Here is a study that shows.” Which, when combined with benefits flowing predominantly to the rulers, will unlock what in newspeak indoctrinated sycophants have been told to to chant is “A privilege, not a right!!” while praising Dear Leader. Or more accurately, praising the institutions that inevitably give rise to Dear Leader.

      • 0 avatar
        S2k Chris

        “I’d say the real loss here will be the ability to head cross country on one’s own volition but the reality is that it’s just an idea to most of us. I’ll never have that much consecutive time off from work unless I’m unemployed. ”

        There’s a huge delta between the range of the average electric car and “cross country.” I am sad to admit that I’ve never driven all the way across the country (some day…) but probably every couple months I take a 350+ mile road trip (one way) and 1-2 times a year drive significantly further (I’ve driven IL FL pan handle and IL CT probably a dozen times each). And I don’t think that makes me a rarity among Americans, at least of the middle class. I have no interest in renting a car for these occasions, and I’ve no interest in planning an hour+ stop at some point(s) along the route to recharge.

    • 0 avatar
      LeMansteve

      People fear change and often have no ability to think outside the box. (I’m not talking about Jack).

      If you have a charger (a big IF in urban settings), recharge at home overnight. Keep or rent a gas-powered car for the occasional long trips.

      What’s the Henry Ford quote? If I asked my customers what they wanted, they would have asked for a faster horse.

      • 0 avatar
        Nedmundo

        We live in an urban townhouse, and this is exactly my plan. Our garage has an outlet, so we could easily charge an electric overnight, and the vast majority of our driving would be easily covered with the range of most current electrics. Ideally, rooftop solar panels would contribute to charging.

        But we do some long distance driving and I want a manual transmission as long as possible, so our other car would be a sport compact. The Civic Si’s spectacular handling and excellent fuel economy are very tempting. (But coming from my TSX, no question I’d miss the high rpm VTEC mojo.)

        By the way, I’ve seen some interesting charger installations in the city. Urban dwellers are resourceful, and the transition is under way.

    • 0 avatar
      Maymar

      Let’s also not forget, even for those who do frequently road trip, is stopping for 30 min every 4 hours or so some massive inconvenience, unless you’re a dedicated Cannonballer? I mean, does no one need to stretch their legs, eat, or take a biological pit stop?

      I’m also not sure how necessary lines for charging would be, provided there’s adequate EV adoption. I’ve been to northern cities where every single parking spot (in a plain paved lot) had standard wall outlets for block heaters. If there’s the demand, and the funding, EV charging can be made to happen.

      • 0 avatar
        stingray65

        Maymar – 30 minutes every 4 hours might be bearable, but the problem is going to be when there are two cars ahead of you waiting to recharge at the only operable supercharger station in the area – so the 30 minutes becomes a 2 hour wait. It might not happen often, but just the thought of it happening will be enough to discourage many from buying an “open-road” EV.

        As for a charging outlet in every parking spot – the problem will be one of speed vs cost. Superchargers require big capacity wiring, which will mean rewiring the whole country if EVs become popular – and the negative environmental impact and financial cost of such rewiring will be huge. On the other hand, a 120 volt regular outlet will only put a small amount of juice in your battery unless you are able to stay parked for 12+ hours.

        • 0 avatar
          JimZ

          “Superchargers require big capacity wiring, which will mean rewiring the whole country if EVs become popular”

          there are these things called transformers

          • 0 avatar
            chuckrs

            “there are these things called transformers”
            Complete non sequitur. You still have to end use distribute the power. That means big capacity wiring, and, yes, bigger/newer transformers and more of them. Transformers are necessary, but not sufficient.

          • 0 avatar
            joeaverage

            And before someone mentions monitoring you car so it can be moved when finished to open up access to an outlet: it has already been demonstrated by several brands that autonomous cars can disconnect themselves and repark themselves after completion of charging.

        • 0 avatar
          Maymar

          Granted, I’m skewing a bit optimistic, but on the other hand, knowing that businesses will be able to guarantee themselves captive customers for a half-hour, what will be the economic incentive to ensure there’s adequate charging capacity, should EVs start reaching mass acceptance? Wouldn’t every restaurant and coffee shop across the country have to assume they’ll get passed by for their competitor down the road if they don’t offer that?

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        If any of you have ever visited or lived in the Canadian Prairies, Northern Ontario or Quebec, you would have noticed that a great many public parking areas already have electrical outlets for block heaters.

        So the infrastructure already exists there as do companies who can install it at a fairly reasonable cost.

    • 0 avatar

      Several times a year I take road trips that go beyond the range of any EVs. One of my joys in life.

      Jack, that article was delightful and depressing at the same time.

  • avatar
    stingray65

    Everything will take a lot longer than most people predict. Electric cars will become more popular, but problems are sure to arise with the battery supply, electricity supply, or taxes and regulations that make them less attractive and slow down adoption. Self-driving cars will become more popular eventually, but in the nearer-term probably only for limited circumstanced such as low speed bumper to bumper or moderate speed freeway cruising because of liability laws, insurance restrictions, unforeseen problems with the technology, etc. Uber, Zipcar, etc. still don’t make profits and it is questionable if they ever will when they are forced to own their own fleets and meet the same regulations as taxis, etc. It is also a myth that we are all heading to the cities to live – biggest growth continues to be in the outlying suburbs, so most of us will still want and need private car type transportation. Even after all those these or something else comes to pass, I still think that a substantial portion of people will still want to own and occasionally drive Bugatti Type 35s, Ferrari F-40s, Hemi-Cudas, 59 Caddys, and other interesting/beautiful vehicles of the past. The problem for the car hobby will be whether anyone will want Model A Ford Sedans, 6 cylinder 55 Chevs and 65 Mustangs, and other pedestrian “collector” cars.

    • 0 avatar
      Arthur Dailey

      Moore’s Law probably applies to auto technology as well. So this will occur much faster than predicted.

      • 0 avatar
        stingray65

        Sorry Arthur – There is zero evidence that Moore’s law applies to any green technology – in fact it doesn’t apply to computer chip development anymore either.

        • 0 avatar
          Arthur Dailey

          It applies to technology and electric and self driving cars are simply technology.

          And since it took decades for Moore’s Law to cease applying to I.T. then why not to I.T that moves?

          It is probably comparable to heavier than air flight. From pusher biplanes to jet aircraft in just over 30 years.

          • 0 avatar
            stingray65

            Sorry Arthur – but Moore’s Law is strictly about the density of transistors on a circuit board doubling every year. Lots of people talk about Moore’s Law applying to other technologies, but the annual doubling of capacity over an extended period of time has not occurred in any other industry or application. In comparison, battery development is extremely incremental with only small (20% at best) improvements in capacity or cost annually, which over time can still lead to significant improvements, but not Moore’s Law type improvements.

          • 0 avatar
            Arthur Dailey

            @Stingray, as per my previous post(s) heavier than air flight.

            Or we could talk about cellphones.

          • 0 avatar
            acmoney

            Moore’s Law has been beaten with respect to the cost to sequence human genomes. https://www.genome.gov/images/content/costpergenome2015_4.jpg

    • 0 avatar
      TW5

      @ Stingray65

      Agree. I think people take for granted that the current car industry has taken a century to build. Converting all factories to EV production and building the factories and infrastructure for batteries will take at least a generation, even if we dedicated ourselves to it completely. Furthermore, I think people are missing another major technological disruption that could actually undermine the current fleet of EVs.

      The auto industry is on the precipice of two major technological revolutions, battery-electric propulsion and carbon-based automobile construction (as seen in the BMW i-vehicles). The latter revolution actually has the ability to undermine the former revolution in its current form.

      If vehicles suddenly weigh 50% less, vehicles may actually produces fewer greenhouse gas emissions during operation and during their life-cycle, if manufacturers use a small ICE and relatively small hybrid system, rather than adding 1,000 pounds of batteries and associated equipment. Unfortunately, government subsidies interfere with product decisions as seen in the i3 and i8, which were designed to take advantage of federal subsidies.

      Also, the carbon-hybrid formula could be undermined by a lightweight battery revolution, which could then be undermined by a lightweight ICE technical revolution, which could be undermined by rapid charging technologies, which could be undermined by a carbon-based fuels revolution…………………

      • 0 avatar
        stingray65

        TW5 – that uncertainty is why a conversion will take longer than expected. A new “better” battery technology will likely start at ground zero in terms of economies of scale and learning curves, so will be expensive to start and not attractive to mass-market. I have often wondered how much fuel the lightweight i3 would need if the heavy battery and scooter motor were replaced by a slightly larger gasoline engine as the sole powerplant – probably 60 real world mpg would be possible which makes any emission advantages from going electric small to negative.

        • 0 avatar
          TW5

          @ Stingray65

          That would certainly be an interesting vehicle to contemplate. I’d also be curious to see how the vehicle performed if they ditched 95% of the battery pack and the electric drive equipment, which would substantially reduce stress on the engine, and then equip the i3 with a mild hybrid system instead. They’d also have to retune the engine and powertrain so the engine were direct drive, not a generator, but whatever.

          I think it would put a Prius to shame, but the lightweight chassis would still make it an interesting drive. Hauling four people would probably be a nightmare, but whatever.

  • avatar
    tomm

    Provocative, and depressing, article. I do find it a bit hard to imagine that Germany will do anything to harm the ability of it’s auto industry to continue to build and export expensive cars. A large part of the premise of paying more for a European built car is that it is a better driver’s car; will people pay more for a Porsche, BMW, Audi, or M-B “transportation pod?”

    I think the real issue for cars in urban areas is that traffic has become unbearable in many of them. And a recent study indicates that autonomous vehicles won’t help solve the problem. People will seek alternate modes of transportation to avoid spending several hours per day getting to and from work.

    • 0 avatar
      PenguinBoy

      “I think the real issue for cars in urban areas is that traffic has become unbearable in many of them. And a recent study indicates that autonomous vehicles won’t help solve the problem.”

      That surprises me. I would think that if autonomous cars could continuously watch the traffic density on all nearby routes they could route the cars on the fastest reasonable route, taking current traffic delays into account. Think “Google Traffic”, only being watched continuously throughout a trip.

      This should have the effect of reducing overall traffic congestion, and this should hold even if there was a mix of autonomous and manned traffic on the road network.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    Wow, thanks for the uplifting read this morning…

    I believe that I am going to go contrary as I age and hopefully can afford it. One of my bucket goals which of course is tabled until the asset bubble pops in classic cars, which I believe is around the corner at the tail end of the next decade, is to find a super rare classic like a Daytona Superbird and DD it. So many awesome cars have been parked in air controlled bubble wrap and the time will have come to mile them up. If the transition to electric is as swift as you predict then gas prices will be kept low so driving some gas guzzling hog won’t be that taxing.

    Jack, your pops may be right that perhaps the time is near to dump the Porsche. But, along the same line of thought, just be patient for a decade or so and pick up the same model cheap and DD the heck out it.

    • 0 avatar
      operagost

      I guess you meant to say, “Daytona or Superbird”. The first was a Charger, the other a Road Runner.

      • 0 avatar
        87 Morgan

        yup, my bad. Either way I look forward to cruising around in a hemi bird or daytona. They made 1k of them and I bet the total cumulative miles on those 1k units barely breaks 100k. I would strive to change that with one of them.

  • avatar
    sirwired

    You forgot the bit about how self-driving cars will make vehicle ownership itself (no matter the means of propulsion) less necessary, even in suburban areas.

    I enjoy driving well enough when I’m in the mood, but I’d enjoy reclaiming the space in my 2-car garage, dropping my car payments, not doing occasional maintenance, and not driving in heavy traffic or poor conditions even more.

  • avatar
    pmirp1

    What a sad dark rant. You must be at a tough place. The truth though is a little different. More cars sold last few years in America than ever before. And the electrics are still a very very small segment.

    Sure electrics will improve. And with improvement comes time for more usage. But lets draw a parallel with electric lawn mowers, or electric grass trimmers vs. their dinosaur juiced/powered cousins. Why is it that electric grass trimmers and lawn mowers not been successful? You can even get a cord and connect it to the wall.

    My point, the technology will take much much longer, if ever, than people think to have reliable quick juicing electric cars. Even my ipad takes hours to juice up.

    As for services like UBER and the like, there is a positive. Where I live in Atlanta northern leafy suburbs, taxi service is sporadic at best. Sometimes when I take the car to dealer, their shuttle service is not available (sad side effect of buying at an American car dealer in Atlanta). Instead of renting a car, I simply get on UBER. A car comes and takes me home and back in 5-10 minutes, love it. So those services can be complementary. They also help on trips out of town.

    I think you are not giving young folks enough credit. They go live downtown, get it out of their system, then come back to suburbs when they get older or married and want to have kids. When I was younger in disco era, I also wanted to live close to where the pulse of town was. When I first bought a home in suburbs in Atlanta and I was in my early 30s, I was so depressed to live next to families in quiet areas. In time, I enjoyed and now prefer. It is a cycle. Hope your day brightens.

    • 0 avatar
      better then walking

      Hi, boomer here who spent three years in another land that had trains, buses, subways and bike paths. That was three decades ago. I had no car. Two bicycles, but a car? That would be like setting money on fire. I got to see the future and it was nice.

      When self driving cars happen, will I mourn giving up my old Baja? Maybe a little. It spends 23 hours out of 24 sitting somewhere unused. During those 23 hours it’s still costing me insurance, taxes, registration fees, and it takes up space in my garage at night.

      A self driving car would be like Uber without people. The only time it would cost money, would be when it was being used. People can’t drive safely in this town anyway. They need to let their rides do the driving.

      A hundred years ago, there would be the same emotional prose about the passing of buggy whip controlled oat fed transportation. Time marches on. The future will happen no matter what. If a car is truly a classic, it will survive. After all, even after all this time, there are still horse drawn carriages, just not many.

      • 0 avatar
        operagost

        The thing is, the automobile was an improvement over the horse for every application except perhaps climbing rocky mountain trails or taking you home after getting sloshed at the pub. The EV, if range and/or charging speed does not radically improve, will be inferior for long highway trips or people who don’t have access to superchargers.

      • 0 avatar
        Willyam

        I just got a vision of standing in my driveway hopping up and down waiting on my “turn” to go to work in a pod, just as I spent Sunday refreshing HBO Now trying to get a working connection to Game of Thrones…

        We might hafta stagger a bit…

      • 0 avatar
        joeaverage

        Europe is a preview of America in some ways. I mean that in a positive way. I was very impressed by parts of it when I lived there for a few years.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      When I wrote this, I was sitting in my father’s house in his South Carolina plantation, having just enjoyed a brilliant meal and a nice bicycle ride. Maybe it was TOO cheerful, huh?

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        MAGA MAGA MAGA!

        Hecho En Mexico: 2017 Auto Production In Mexico Surges Despite Trump Attacks

        “.  Per the Wall Street Journal:

        A move by auto makers to produce some popular sport-utility models in Mexican factories helped spur a 16% increase in production of light vehicles in Mexico during the first six months of the year compared with the same period in 2016. At the same time, tepid sales of sedans held down production in the U.S. and Canada, according to new data posted by WardsAuto.com.
         
        The data indicates one in five cars built in the North American Free Trade Agreement zone comes from Mexico, including hot new products from General Motors Co. and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV. That is up from the industry’s reliance on Mexico during the financial crisis, when the U.S. car business received billions of dollars in bailouts aimed at preserving jobs and keeping domestic players afloat.
         
        Separate U.S. trade data shows that the value of light-vehicle imports from Mexico to the U.S. ballooned 40% through May.”

        https://www.wsj.com/articles/more-u-s-cars-are-being-made-in-mexico-1500975000

      • 0 avatar
        pmirp1

        Jack, can’t argue with where you are, and if you feel good so be it. I am happy for you. Your article doesn’t come across as someone who is happy about himself or his place in life. compared to your brothers article which is about youthful life in Miami and Porsche, yours comes across as a story of doom and gloom for ICE cars. It is a sad documentary that is not real per current sales numbers as I already indicated. So the only conclusion for me was/is you are feeling down contrary to your words.

    • 0 avatar
      TW5

      @pmirp1

      The future has already arrived. The Chevrolet Bolt is on the market. It has a 240-mile range. The reception has been overwhelmingly positive, and the Tesla Model 3 will be arriving soon for people who would rather be dead than drive a GM product or compact CUV.

      The technological barriers to adoption have been mostly eliminated. The primary remaining issue is cost and production capacity (economic barriers), but those issues are not present for all consumers, and GM can address them more quickly than technological barriers.

      That’s not to say that everyone will drive their Silverados to the nearest landfill, and buy a Bolt, but the future is here. It’s staring you in the face like an early 1980s personal computer. It’s just a matter of marketing and cost restructuring now.

      • 0 avatar
        pmirp1

        TW5, do you live in an alternate universe? Bolt sold about 1600 units in month of May. Is that a success? In a booming market, that is utter failure. As for Tesla it’s a great car for rich and those who can afford a second car. How is future here when it takes hours to juice it up? What if you have an emergency and it needs to juice up? What if you live in an apartment and have no place to juice it up? What if you want to take a trip out of town that is more than 200 miles away? What if you go camping and no place to juice it up? What if … Like I said you don’t live in real life.

        • 0 avatar
          TW5

          @pmirp1

          You should do some research on the Bolt. The critical reception has been positive, and public enthusiasm is palpable. GM produced exactly what they promised, and they got it to market before Tesla. Unlike most automotive products, it isn’t ruined by pricing gimmicks and paywalls.

          If the buyer can take advantage of the full $7,500 tax credit, the net cost for a 240-mile EV is under $30K. Some states reduce the net cost further with their own incentives.

          The first mainstream EV has arrived. The rollout will be slow because dealer requirements are quite high and production is slow, and adoption rates will probably be modest, but you’re looking at the future of passenger appliances.

          • 0 avatar
            pmirp1

            TW5, Again Bolt sold only 1600 units in May. Are you ignoring the obvious by talking about critical reception? Last I checked we live in America where market talks and everything else walks. At least admit that Bolt is a sales failure, otherwise you lose credibility and I won’t respond to regurgitation of hyperbole again.

          • 0 avatar
            joeaverage

            GM sold 1600 EVs a month in a market with $1.90 gasoline.

          • 0 avatar
            pmirp1

            Joeaverage, and with fracking gasoline will stay at current levels for foreseeable future (not withstanding war in Middle East or a natural disaster in a major oil producing region).

          • 0 avatar
            geozinger

            One thing to remember about the Bolt, it’s only in limited distribution until next month, I believe. I will be curious to see how they do when they’re for sale in all 50.

            We just bought a house and I finally have a garage big enough for two vehicles; our work is not that far from home, something like a Bolt really appeals to me. I could see me (or my wife) driving a Bolt for the vast majority of our driving needs. I’d still keep a gasoline car as I’m cheap and the damned thing is paid off; and for the times I may need to drive to some far off location. I can afford to do so right now. As I age, however, I imagine I will not be so keen to fold myself into any kind of car, so ultimately the ICE car may disappear, too…

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    Oh brother. For starters, urbanization in the US is a myth:

    https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/22/upshot/seattle-climbs-but-austin-sprawls-the-myth-of-the-return-to-cities.html

    We have space. Not to mention all the people fleeing the miserable Northeast (including myself)

    http://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/terence-p-jeffrey/new-york-northeast-lead-nation-outmigration

    Regarding the wholesale shift car wise, logistically it doesn’t add up. Yes, millenials face some unique challenges, but we also have some unique advantages. For starters the average car on the road is getting older because they are better built…. meaning we don’t HAVE to buy new cars as often.

    And as far as outlawing gasoline, or human driving, or whatever- never mind the fact that we are nowhere near ready for either shift technology or infrastructure wise, or that the powers that be who profit from the status quo would literally fight tooth and nail against such change. There are 250 million plus passenger vehicles registered in the US. In a good year new cars replace about 15 million of those. An overnight ban would not only be political and economic suicide, there’s simply not the manufacturing capacity to replace all those cars at once. So we are at least ~15-20 years away, and that’s from the day when autonomous driving is actually commercially viable in all conditions and locations…. another 5-10 years away at best IMO.

    Bro you are way better than these hasty panicked alarmist clickbaity pieces. Shame on you

    • 0 avatar
      Arthur Dailey

      One of the issues is that you are addressing only the USA which is a shrinking auto market and not the dominant player in auto technology.

      As the world’s auto manufacturers change due to rules in the other nations of the world, will the USA hold out on its own (with maybe Canada and Australia) or will it conform?

      And if its domestic companies GM and Ford cling to old technology, will they fall farther behind as they did after the OPEC crisis?

      • 0 avatar
        S2k Chris

        “One of the issues is that you are addressing only the USA which is a shrinking auto market and not the dominant player in auto technology.

        As the world’s auto manufacturers change due to rules in the other nations of the world, will the USA hold out on its own (with maybe Canada and Australia) or will it conform?””

        You mean like now? Where the US has a generally different fleet than the whole rest of the world (trucks and SUVs/CUVs versus smaller cars everywhere else) and the rest of the world fights to sell us cars? Come on man.

        • 0 avatar
          Arthur Dailey

          “The rest of the world fights to sell us cars?”

          Sorry but you are living in the increasingly distant past.

          GM makes most of its profit in Asia. Large successful auto manufacturers either voluntarily do not sell in or have withdrawn from the U.S. market.

          Eventually the North American market will have to conform to the world standards.

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            “GM makes most of its profit in Asia.”

            GM released its Q2 earnings like 4 hours ago and this is not true. Sales volume between NA and China is pretty close (with China slightly ahead), but profits in NA are *significantly* higher than from the China operations.

        • 0 avatar
          mike9o

          CUV sales in Europe are increasing – they are becoming more like us, not the other way around.

          http://europe.autonews.com/article/20170324/ANE/170329994/suv-sales-rise-to-25-of-european-market

          China as well.

          http://www.scmp.com/business/companies/article/2089649/suv-sales-will-outpace-sedans-chinas-roads-carmakers-say

          The future is auto E-CUV!!!

      • 0 avatar
        stingray65

        Arthur – the US may not be the biggest auto market anymore, but it is probably the most friendly big car market in the world for EVs. In Europe and China far more people live in apartments that are not recharging friendly. China also gets far more of its electricity from coal, so EVs may not actually provide cleaner air at all.

        • 0 avatar
          Arthur Dailey

          Thanks for the recently reported figures. I checked, GM sold more vehicles in China than in the USA by a not insignificant amount of around 15%. Margins might be better in the USA due to the mark-up on trucks.

          “In the second quarter, the company said it delivered 725,000 vehicles in the U.S., driven by a 24 percent jump in sales of crossover vehicles.

          In China, GM delivered 852,000 vehicles, a 1.6 percent increase compared with the same quarter last year.”

          http://www.cnbc.com/2017/07/25/general-motors-earnings-q2-2017.html

      • 0 avatar
        sportyaccordy

        A lot to unpack here, which makes articles like these so frustrating.

        US auto market has had several back to back record years, and has a growing population. So I don’t see what’s shrinking about it.

        Ford, a US automaker, pioneered and still utilizes the concept of the “world car”. We will get an appropriate mix of models and features for the US market, but aside from our pickups we are still going to get much of what everyone in China and Europe gets, as we have for a few decades.

        Not sure how GM or Ford are clinging to old technology…. many automakers are playing catch up to the Volt, and Ecoboost engines are literally state of the art.

        Plus as GM’s recent pull outs show the domestics are not afraid to make moves that would be previously considered drastic (i.e. pulling out of Europe) to maintain profitability. Everything associated with Chrysler has always been cursed but I see Ford and GM weathering whatever storms the market throws at them.

      • 0 avatar
        TW5

        @ Arthur Dailey

        The North American market is still the home of manufacturer profits. Our market is the most profitable because manufacturers convince Americans to pay thousands of additional dollars for superfluous technological features.

  • avatar
    Steve_S

    50-70 years maybe not 10-20, just isn’t going to happen. Big oil won’t let it happen, Republicans won’t let it happen because they are in the pocket of Big Oil.

    There is also a large demographic that lives in the suburbs or rural America in-which electric appliances will not work. They either commute long distances or need Diesel trucks.

    One good disease epidemic will have all those Uber and ride sharing users staying home or getting their own vehicle.

    • 0 avatar
      stingray65

      Steve-S – The Big Oil boogieman – you mean the one that pays more taxes than any other industry? The one that employs so many Americans in high paying jobs? The one that finds ever more efficient ways to procure, ship, and refine its product, despite ever increasing difficulties in geography and regulation? The one that allows us to enjoy cheap and readily available food despite ever growing global populations? Thank God for Big Oil because we would otherwise be living short, cold, and miserable lives.

      • 0 avatar
        pbx

        “Thank God for Big Oil because we would otherwise be living short, cold, and miserable lives.”

        Just as oil less countries such as Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Switzerland, France, Italy etc etc etc currently do.

        • 0 avatar
          stingray65

          pbx – please correct me if I am wrong, but I believe all those countries you list do import oil from those Big Oil companies. I seem to recall seeing gas stations and gas/diesel powered cars in large numbers in my travels around all those countries, but perhaps my observations are out-of-date?

          • 0 avatar
            pbx

            You implied big oil countries,producing oil rather than just consuming oil particularly the US when you wrote “The one that employs so many Americans in high paying jobs? ”

            The countries I listed don’t harbor a lot of Americans in high paying jobs.

          • 0 avatar
            operagost

            Being clever with semantics doesn’t help you win the argument.

            You benefit from oil production in the same way you benefit from the oversized American army that protects your weak countries so that they don’t even have to suffer to purchase one miserable aircraft carrier to protect their borders. They just rely on us, then see fit to criticize us as “jingoes”.

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        Big Oil is largely responsible for Islamic terrorism. It funds Saudi Arabia which promotes its fundamentalist Wahhabism. Without the funds generated by Big Oil, the funding for this would dry up.

        That may be the most compelling reason to convert from a petroleum/oil based economy.

        • 0 avatar
          operagost

          We import very little oil from Saudi Arabia these days. Do try to keep up.

          • 0 avatar
            Arthur Dailey

            @operagost” What do you mean by “we”? Multinational corporations? Auto manufacturers? The organizations that manufacture most of the products that you purchase? The plastics industry?

            This is a global issue. Something that some people seem to have a real problem understanding.

          • 0 avatar
            chuckrs

            Sure, oil is fungible to an extent. Better it should be our petrochemicals than our enemies. One of the best aspects of the fracking revolution is that it reduces the ability of those enemies to cause us harm. I include Russia, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela as enemies. Perhaps someone from Poland can tell us how they feel about having a wintertime source of supply of natural gas other than Russia.

        • 0 avatar
          stingray65

          Islam is largely responsible for Islamic terrorism. Give a region with an median IQ of 85 and a less than peaceful religion money from any source and they will make trouble. All the more reason to drill baby drill in North America and keep oil prices and terrorist incomes low.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      Never mind politics- though that is a factor. More pressing issues are

      – the amount of time it will take for the market to naturally replace the 250M passenger vehicles on US roads
      – the amount of time it will take for the electric grid to add the capacity to charge all those cars cleanly, safely and reliably
      – the amount of time it will take for autonomous driving to actually be feasible for public sale and use across all US roads and conditions

      Even outside gov’t and lobbyist slop- which will have an effect- there are simple logistical and technological hurdles that put a few decades between where we are and where JB thinks we will be tomorrow. “Me no worry”

  • avatar
    stingray65

    Tomm, Traffic is unbearable because city planners want drivers to suffer for making the “wrong” transportation choice. Governments divert more than half of gas tax revenues to non-road building purposes such as public transit subsidies and bike lane construction that take less than 5% of drivers off the road. They also take car lanes away from existing roads to make space for lightly used bus lanes and bike lanes, which makes congestion even worse for the remaining drivers. If road funds were actually used to make bigger and more efficient roads we would actually have far more bearable traffic, and perhaps even an enjoyable commute.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      “Traffic is unbearable because city planners want drivers to suffer for making the “wrong” transportation choice. ”

      that’s utter nonsense. Traffic becomes unbearable when too many people want to live in an area before it can support that amount of traffic.

      e.g. the northern suburbs in Macomb County, MI. Tons of new businesses and subdivisions have been built over the last 20 years, along with enormous middle- and high schools. And the main roads are still one lane each direction with no left turn lane. So no wonder they’re always congested and have frequent collisions. That’s not because anyone wants “drivers to suffer,” it’s because they were too short-sighted to see the looming disaster.

      TL;DR: you want to live out in some McMansion on the edge of the sticks, then you’ve made your bed. I don’t want to hear you complain about traffic or how long your commute is.

      • 0 avatar
        turbo_awd

        @JimZ: that’s utter nonsense. Traffic becomes unbearable when too many people want to live in an area before it can support that amount of traffic.

        What’s your take on cities where 2-lane roads are getting converted into 1-lane + bicycle lane roads? They USED to support more traffic – now traffic planners are making it WORSE than it used to be. Nothing about “outgrew” the street capacity – they were ok before, but then they were “re-purposed” and are now a problem.

        Yes, this has happened in my city. Thankfully I don’t have to deal with it, but my wife does on her daily commute. Mind you, we’re still pretty fortunate – she has a 6 mile commute, and I can work from home most days, but still..

    • 0 avatar
      bikegoesbaa

      Do you have any examples anywhere of a large city (say 1M people or more) where city planners made the “right” choices and there are no significant traffic problems?

      • 0 avatar
        stingray65

        How about LA until the 1970s when the “greens” took over and stopped building roads to handle the increasing population?

        • 0 avatar
          JimZ

          at some point, you have to take Lewis Black’s philosophy of “no more f**kers can live here.”

          SoCal’s problem isn’t “not enough roads.” It’s “too many goddamn people.”

    • 0 avatar
      Arthur Dailey

      Urban planning research has demonstrated that if you build more and bigger roads, it results in bigger traffic jams. Seems illogical but they have the studies to prove it. You just get more cars congregating on those roads.

      And most inner cities, at least in the east and north were not built to handle vehicular traffic.

      • 0 avatar
        stingray65

        I can design a study to get any result I want. Urban planners don’t like cars so they design studies to prove cars are bad. Then they stop building new roads and when the increasing congestion results they can say – “see I told you cars are bad”. As for inner cities and cars – in the old days they just knocked down the inner cities to make space for new freeways, but that has become politically unpopular today. New roads in places where they are needed does increase traffic because those places then become more attractive places to live and do business, which are not bad things to anyone except urban planners.

        • 0 avatar
          Arthur Dailey

          @stingray: urban planners were the greatest supporters of expressways, divided highways and even raised inner city highways.

          However there vision of the modern city became more of a traffic nightmare.

          Learn from what they have learned.
          Try to list the number of urban expressways that have been built in the last 50 years that have not turned into parking lots.

        • 0 avatar
          JimZ

          “As for inner cities and cars – in the old days they just knocked down the inner cities to make space for new freeways, but that has become politically unpopular today.”

          uh, it’s a bit more than “politically unpopular.” Razing Black Bottom (and displacing primarily black neighborhoods and businesses) to build I-375 was one of the bigger causes of the ’67 Detroit riots.

        • 0 avatar
          Arthur Dailey

          And there is a reason that ‘walkability scores’ have a major impact on real estate prices.

          More cars = decreased livability factor.

          One reason why so many ‘quaint’ areas are favourites among tourists and those seeking a place to live.

          • 0 avatar
            joeaverage

            What? You don’t like to walk or bike next to 50 mph+ traffic?

            Watched a video recently that started at someone’s house. The noise and the pace of traffic that they needed to back out into was similar to living in the median of a highway.

  • avatar
    bikegoesbaa

    “Regardless of what you think about the published unemployment numbers, only a fool would assert that today’s 25-year-olds are going to have an easy time joining the middle class in any of the Western democracies.”

    It’s actually not very hard:
    (1) Graduate high school
    (2) Get an engineering degree from a good school
    (3) Don’t do hard drugs or have kids until you turn 30
    (4) BOOM! Middle class.

    I say this as somebody who is living it, and improved my economic “class” a full 60 percentile points vs my parents by following the steps above.

    • 0 avatar
      FormerFF

      Most kids will not get into a “good” school, it’s a numerical certainty that most that go to college will go to an average school. Of those that get into that “good” school, most cannot handle that heavy math that will be required to complete engineering school. It’s not just a matter of having a good work ethic, it’s also a matter of having a natural aptitude for math. Most don’t.

      When I was enrolled in college, we had a large number of students who wanted to major in business and economics, and an even larger number who wanted to go to medical school. In both cases, the university established “weedout” courses, macroeconomics for the business/econ majors, and organic chemistry for the pre-meds. Students that did not perform well in those classes were told to find another major in the case of the econ/business students and were removed from the pre-med program for those that wanted to be doctors.

      The majority of students who graduate with a STEM degree wind up doing something other than what they study.

      • 0 avatar
        TMA1

        I think average schools are good schools. We’re not talking Harvard/Yale here, a state school is fine. Just don’t show up to your interview with an online degree from the University of Phoenix or DeVry.

        Bikes’ path is the correct one, although I think there are other options besides just engineering (health care will be booming in the coming decades, and not just for doctors).

        Another good option for us working class kids is the military. A four-year stint, and by the time you’re in college you’re much more mature and focused on your studies, rather than your parties. The GI Bill relieves a lot of college-related debt, and VA home loans can get you in a home years earlier than you would otherwise.

        • 0 avatar
          bikegoesbaa

          Agreed on both counts.

          I meant “good” as in “accredited and legitimate” rather than “selective Ivy League country club”.

          There are plenty of other options, I just covered the one I’m most directly familiar with.

          Interestingly, between myself and my two siblings we all caught a booster rocket to the middle class by following one of the paths you mentioned.

          I went STEM, my brother chose the military, and my sister did non-doctor health care. Everybody is now comfortably middle class instead of the low-income hand-to-mouth rust belt existence we were born into.

          I’ve watched many, many peers who started out way ahead of us somehow manage to squander all of their advantages and then complain about how hard our generation has it. I’m not convinced.

      • 0 avatar
        chuckrs

        I must be the outlier. Lack of imagination, been doing STEM for 40 years. One problem with college (certainly not the only one) is the number of students getting grievance studies degrees while living in expen$ive day spa accomodations. A liberal arts prof laid out six courses you need to take to get a decent job. They are:
        1)calculus 1 – integral calculus – just one semester, no PDEs (my take – if possible, take this from an applied math type – pure mathematicians will just screw you up, or from a junior college adjunct teacher)
        2)microeconomics
        3)statistics – you need to learn how to lie with numbers so you can spot when someone is doing it to you
        4)one semester of intro computer programming
        5)communications – learn what you should have learned in high school about written and verbal presentations
        6)intro business course in financial planning and management

        Good advice and still leaves plenty of time for the general screwing off that too many students pursue

        • 0 avatar
          Dawnrazor

          I just want to reinforce that this is truly GREAT advice!

          If you do these six things you WILL distinguish yourself.

          I also agree 100% regarding math classes (and I went a lot further than Calc I). The absolute best professor I ever had was in Physical Chemistry (which was also the most difficult course I ever took), and he was better at teaching math than any of the math professors I had (many of whom were excellent in their own right).

        • 0 avatar
          stingray65

          Bike and Chuck – the problem with both of your suggestions is that passing such college level courses would require an IQ of 110+ (engineering probably 120+), which means only about 10 to 25% of the US population could qualify. Many colleges currently let in people with lower IQs, but they either drop out or end up with some junk degree in Queer Interpretive Dance because Econ 101 and Calculus is just too tough – and probably racist and sexist also.

          • 0 avatar
            FormerFF

            Don’t forget, some people just struggle with certain things, in many cases advanced math is one of them.

    • 0 avatar
      LS1Fan

      Until the bosses subcontract your engineering department to Punjab Outsourcing LLC for a fraction of your teams “Middle Class” salaries ,thus punting you into the masses of the unemployed.

      • 0 avatar
        chuckrs

        Many times, the bosses learn there are disadvantages – if your cost is X% lower, but your productivity is more than X% lower then you messed up. Then add in the fun of teleconferencing across 12 time zones and misunderstandings caused by cultural differences.
        Worked with, not for, a company that went offshore and came back onshore for these reasons.

      • 0 avatar
        bikegoesbaa

        Any competent engineer I know who has been put out of a job has found another one that pays more within 6 weeks.

        • 0 avatar
          JimZ

          “Any competent engineer I know who has been put out of a job has found another one that pays more within 6 weeks.”

          statistically speaking, you know roughly 0% of the population.

          you can’t extrapolate your extremely limited personal experience out to the country as a whole. or are you another person who has already forgotten 2007-2010? ‘cos I knew a lot of engineers back then who were laid off and out of work for a hell of a lot longer than 6 weeks.

    • 0 avatar
      Arthur Dailey

      And what age are you???????
      It reminds me of those born during the Depression and WWII complaining about following generations. They were born luck with little competition, the Boomers following them and therefore an economy that grew for decades.

      When and where you were born have a great deal of importance.
      And don’t get ill. Or have a child with an illness. All things beyond your individual control.

      And you also forgot, don’t get divorced.

      • 0 avatar
        bikegoesbaa

        I’m early thirties, so solidly a millennial and one of the group that graduated college directly into the maw of the 2008 recession.

        Watching how my contemporaries mismanage their life is a good crash course in what not to do. I’m talking here about the ones who were raised with every possible resource and advantage that a person could want, and still managed to pooch it in foreseeable and easily preventable ways.

        When your parents wrote a check to pay for your entire college and you opted to spend that time studying film criticism, you basically volunteered to be “not middle class”.

        • 0 avatar
          JimZ

          “I’m talking here about the ones who were raised with every possible resource and advantage that a person could want,”

          sounds like you’re blaming them for the way their parents raised them.

          If you grow up never having had to work for anything, you won’t know how.

          • 0 avatar
            TMA1

            That’s probably true, Jim. I read recently families who reach the middle class are usually back where they started by the third generation.

          • 0 avatar
            sportyaccordy

            At some point one has to take ownership for the outcomes of their own life, regardless of what their parents did.

    • 0 avatar
      Maymar

      For what it’s worth, most majors have pumped out a roughly proportional number of graduates over the past 40 years (really only business and health services have shown substantial increases) – so we’re about as practical as our Boomer forebears. So if we’re typically as practical in our education choices as we’ve ever been, and still have a shrinking middle class, is it reasonable to think something’s wrong?

      Also, we absolutely need engineers, but how many do we need? What’s a reasonable fate for those not worthy of engineering?

      http://www.npr.org/sections/money/2014/05/09/310114739/whats-your-major-four-decades-of-college-degrees-in-1-graph

      • 0 avatar
        bikegoesbaa

        Feel free to replace “engineering” with any other similarly selective and well-compensated professional field.

        It’s not that something is “wrong” now, it’s that the Boomer generation had the good luck to come of age in an era where almost anybody could fall backwards into a unsustainably high standard of living.

        That’s over and the writing has been on the wall for 40 years. Stop complaining, plan and act accordingly.

        An individual can’t “fix” the system as it currently exists, but they can sure be successful within it.

        • 0 avatar
          FormerFF

          “It’s not that something is “wrong” now, it’s that the Boomer generation had the good luck to come of age in an era where almost anybody could fall backwards into a unsustainably high standard of living.”

          Oh, boy, are you ever wrong here. You weren’t around so you just don’t know.

          Also, there was nothing unsustainable about the standard of living 30 years ago. Per capita GDP is considerably higher than it was then. Where’d all the money go? I’ll let you figure that out.

    • 0 avatar
      TW5

      @bikegoesbaa

      I’m glad you made it, but you’re not paying close attention. You’ve forgotten the part about paying off $60,000 in student loans (x2 if you’re married), and purchasing a home in a country where median prices are roughly 400%-500% of median income. In other words, housing prices have seen a doubling of real price in the last 30 years.

      The headwinds are very strong for millennials. Young people often need help with schooling costs and/or housing costs, and they often have to invent their own way to achieve middle class lifestyle by fleeing into the exurbs, buying in sketchy gentrification areas, or moving to smaller fast-growing towns where the cost of living is affordable.

      • 0 avatar
        joeaverage

        Paying off student loans? Easy if you focus on avoiding the loans in the first place i.e. work a PT job, or join the military first so you have the GI Bill (and VA loan), and you don’t fund a “college lifestyle” with those loans.

        I’ve known several people who took out max student loans so they could buy wardrobes of clothes from the mall, rent apartments, electronics, nice cars, go to the beach, etc.

        Nice if you can do it but don’t complain when the bill comes due. Nobody’s problem but your’s. And yes, I think a personal finance class prior to accepting loans would be a good idea.

        Don’t feed the bankers easy cash.

        Go back to the suggestion above to delay parenthood – and I’d add new cars. People get in such a rush to have at 23 what their parents had at 50.

        I came out of college with zero loans thanks to the GI Bill and working part time jobs.

        Wife had to go back to school twice after we had kids and mortgage b/c of a shifting career field and we paid down her loans in lieu of upgrading the house or buying new cars. It went away quickly with careful budgeting.

        It can be done…

  • avatar
    NMGOM

    Jack – – –

    I couldn’t care less what happens in socialist Europe. Or in Canada, for that matter.

    Anthropogenic Global Warming?
    Nonsense. My global is not warming, except when I see a good-looking gal…
    Our summer temperatures in upstate WI are way cooler than last year: only hit 90 deg F once so far.

    ICE vehicles will be here and dominate for at least 50 years in America, perhaps even 75.
    They may not always burn gasoline, but many may use diesel, since it “harvests” more energy from fuel.
    Beyond that, we will no doubt start using CNG/LNG systems in our vehicles big time, and the Audi E-gas process has already been shown to be a natural, carbon-neutral way to get it.

    In “Third World” countries, ICE propulsion will be around for perhaps 100 years, since ICE’s are inexpensive to build, operate, and maintain, — especially with ethanol used as a fuel.

    Battery technology is NOT the future, unless a massive break through occurs that increases vehicle range almost 3-fold. When EV’s can routinely go more than 600 miles on a FAST (7 minute) “fill-up”, then they may have a chance.
    When batteries/motor systems cost LESS than an ICE, then they may have chance.
    When the electric grid infrastructure can support more than 25% of cars being EV’s, then they may have a chance.

    But waiting in the wings is H2 Fuel-cell propulsion for the farther-out future, or Japan’s vehicle-manufacturers would not be committed to it.

    And new data show that the urban movement has come to its equilibrium, and that “Millennials” are no less car buying than previous generations. Their cars have just not been as much of the enthusiast varieties of yesteryear.

    I have always been suspicious of future projections with new technologies. Without government interference, the future will be determined by economics, as it always has been. And if it’s cheaper to build and operate little ICE vehicles, then that is what will dominate.

    If our planet gets warmer, then perhaps it’s just restoring the way it should have been (and was) in the first place. If it gets REALLY warm, 200 years from now, then we’ll simply go get ourselves another one…(^_^)…

    So, relax, Jack. Have a nice cigar and a good glass of Irish whisky. You’ll feel better in the morning…

    =======================

    • 0 avatar
      LeMansteve

      The summer of 2017 in Wisconsin may be hunky dory, but that’s hardly telling the big picture. Nobody should doubt the fact that global temps are historically cyclical. The main cause for concern is the rate at which temperatures are increasing. They are rising at a rate faster than ever before.

      You put too much CO2 into the atmosphere and it will warm up. It’s not rocket science.

    • 0 avatar
      Add Lightness

      History will not be kind to the Flat Earth Society.

    • 0 avatar
      Arthur Dailey

      You are already incorrect in regards to your projections on the use of diesel for privately owned vehicles.

      And you cannot build a climate moat or economic moat around the USA.

    • 0 avatar
      TW5

      Yes, AGW is mostly bunk political hokum at this point, but you can also see how many people have fallen for the promise of superior weather and the perpetual existence of distant future generations (which cannot be assured and which does us no good, especially if future generations turn out to be terrible people).

      There are too many stupid people on this planet who have no raison d’etre, and who couldn’t assign themselves a raison d’etre if a gun was pointed at their head. Anthropogenic global warming is a new religion for these people, and they will kill for it, if necessary. The worst part is that they will not take up arms like some ragtag terrorists who can be identified and eliminated. They will merely write down on a piece of paper that authorities have the right to cage you, impoverish you, or kill you, if you do not follow the words they’ve written down. And they will do it at the federal level so you have no local recourse.

      My point, is that barring an unforeseen eco-technological miracle that somehow makes freedom appealing again, you need to prepare yourself for life under Nazi occupation.

      • 0 avatar
        joeaverage

        Time to turn off conservative talk radio.

        I have no doubt that things will need to change (adapt) as the population continues to grow and the world gets more crowded – but I doubt your apocalyptic predictions will be accurate.

        • 0 avatar
          TW5

          You need to stop using conservative talk radio as an excuse to avoid the obvious. People who believe the world is being corrupted and who believe they need to save the world with new regulations and cultural norms are embracing an unhealthy obsessions with messianic fascism (ala Adolf Hitler or the Ayatollahs).

          If you want to reduce pollution, do it. Buy an EV or hybrid. Put solar panels on your house. Buy farmland and reforest it. Put your money where your mouth is and create economic incentives for people to do what you want.

          Do not interfere with the global economy, and build corrupt bureaucratic regimes like cap and trade, CAFE 2025, and Paris Accord. Do not tell people the science is settled and we can forecast and model global climate when the science is not settled and our models are not accurate. Do not make Utopian weather guarantees that you have no power to control.

          People who embrace AGW need a seat in a mental institution, not government.

  • avatar
    mikey

    Since I was a kid (along time ago)…I wanted a 57 Bell Air Convertible. Black, with a red interior, white top, was and still is my requirement.

    When I was old enough to drive, such a vehicle could be bought into the $2000 -$3000 range. By the time I was old enough to even dream of actually buying one, the price was closer to $80,000. After that the price moved well into 6 figures…Every 45 plus car guy wanted a 55-56-57 Chevy.

    Today,a nicely restored, factory correct model, is hovering around the $100,000 mark. A savvy buyer, that doesn’t care about number matching ? Maybe $80 -$90.

    Why?… Is it that restoration techniques have advanced and there is just plain more vehicles available.?

    No, I believe that while there is more vehicles available ,there is a whole lot less buyers. The buying demographic for such a vehicle, is shrinking daily. Those of us that are still here, think long and hard, before they bring out their Cheque book… Supply, and demand eh.

    While Jack B may be writing “doom and gloom” I don’t think his predictions are too far off the mark.

    • 0 avatar
      stingray65

      To some degree what you observe about the 57 Chevy prices is simply a generational issue – we want the cool cars from when we were kids/teens. A 16 year old in 1957 who dreamed of a new BelAir convertible is now 76 years old and if he hasn’t made the purchase already probably won’t ever fulfill his teenage dream. Those that are younger may still admire the 57 Chevy, but they probably prefer a 67 GTO or 87 911 Turbo, so prices on the older classics get softer until they offset preferences differences – i.e. I like the $180,000 911 Turbo better, but not $80,000 better than the $100,000 57 BelAir convertible.

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        @stingray is correct. The demand/price for antiques/collectibles depends on the market. And that depends on demographics.

        Just as the generation that longed for pre-WWII vehicles is now disappearing the generation that lusts after 1950’s vehicles will. And with them the prices will deflate.

    • 0 avatar
      87 Morgan

      mikey…

      If you are willing to go with a hard top a nice 57′ Chevy can be had for reasonable amounts of dough. I traded my way into mine and my wife and kids love it. We drive the heck out of it (as much as one can for a 3rd car that only sees nice days so on and so forth…3k miles a year). Mine is a resto mod which may not appeal to you but I love me some disc brakes, AC, & Fuel injection.

  • avatar
    TrailerTrash

    “The looniest of the social-democracy Euro-countries are pushing for “gasoline freedom” in ten years. The minute they successfully make the transition, the rest of Europe will follow posthaste”

    This is the first mistake, thinking government can mandate social change. It’s a myth mistakenly believed by the idiots themselves in the government drunk with their own power delusions.

    It will happen,perhaps, but nobody REALLY knows what changes with come, what new technologies are actually going to break out from some inventor or discoveries to come.

    Nobody.

    And this electric power propelled car is completely dependent upon the power source available. If anybody thinks the power distribution and production for this massive change is anywhere near available, it is complete idiocy. It is not even close.

    Blackouts in the summer now are going to become even more dominant and nobody,especially those on the left, want to be able to increase power production on the level needed for this new world.

    Maybe this will happen…but at nowhere near the pace suggested.

    Impossible.

    I can just see the headlines here in florida and throughout the Gulf coast states the next power outage that took over 13 days to restore as a result of the massive hurricane…and all those fancy electric cars unable to charge…

    • 0 avatar
      TrailerTrash

      https://www.electricchoice.com/blog/worst-power-outages-in-united-states-history/

    • 0 avatar
      Add Lightness

      ‘And this electric power propelled car is completely dependent upon the power source available’

      How many trillion $ R U figuring on spending on oil wars to preserve the oil supply?

      • 0 avatar
        TrailerTrash

        Is that an argument or a question?
        Cause if an argument is rather silly, almost green party logic.
        And sorta deceptive.
        Are you suggesting that there’s a shortage of oil….
        Do we need to start this discussion.

        The goalpost keeps moving from saving the earth to there’s no more oil.

    • 0 avatar
      jonnyanalog

      Agreed. The national grid is incredibly taxed and really quite fragile, for lack of better words. Adding more to it without significantly upgrading it is not going to facilitate a quick change over to a predominantly electrified fleet.
      Another problem is that there is no standardized autonomous system emerging yet. If current electronic systems are any indication it will be more than 2 decades before a ‘leader’ rises to the top. Even then you’ll have outliers. More to that, if you have all these various systems out there they’re going to need to communicate at some level in order for the system to be smarter than individuals driving.

      We have been charged with the task of being stewards of the Earth. While I think we’ve come a long way we certainly need to do better. Steps can be made to right our wrongs but it’s gonna take time and human nature by default is opposed to change.

  • avatar

    Great article—I was reminded of the 1981 star-bedazzled, cinematic gem “The Last Chase”

    In the future United States, the only transport available to an individual is public transportation. Predicated on an assertion that “the oil has run out”, an increasingly totalitarian central government has ordered all personal vehicles be impounded by law.
    One man, a former race car driver, yearns again for his ability to choose his own roads and destiny. He reassembles his race car hidden from confiscation and sets out for “Free California” which has broken away from the new regime, aided by a young technically savvy teen who feels alienated from this “social” society.

    Seems pretty accurate—with the exception of a “Free California”

  • avatar
    brettc

    Kind of sad, but probably close to accurate. Thanks for the Red Barchetta reference.

  • avatar
    raisingAnarchy

    A perspective from a dumb millenial:

    My 50+ year old parents and their friends have all but abandoned cars as a hobby, or even a remote interest.

    My 40+ year old aunts and uncles look at me like I have two heads when I see their oil service indicator has been on for 1k+ miles and I suggest that they get service.

    My 30+ year old coworkers chide me for having too much time on the weekends when I spend it prepping for the next HPDE, or attending said HPDE.

    I broke my first bolt on my brand new car installing an oil pressure sensor under the alternator. Screwed up the tightening order, owned up to my mistake on car-based social media, and another millenial was the only person able to help me source a replacement bolt so I could drive the car on Monday morning. Not the 6 hardware stores and myriad other shops that either didn’t have it or weren’t even open on a Sunday.

    My point, Jack, is it’s going to be the middle-aged men and women of this country that will be legislating our beloved cars out of our greasy hands. Not the millenials.

    P.S: that quote at the end was great. Gave me chills.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      “My point, Jack, is it’s going to be the middle-aged men and women of this country that will be legislating our beloved cars out of our greasy hands. Not the millenials.”

      yep. nobody wants to step back and admit we’re all sucked into this war between the Boomers. the liberal Boomers are hell-bent on advancing the “Green Agenda” whether or not it’s ready for primetime, and the right wing Boomers are more interested in lining the pockets of the already wealthy and making the rest of us live in Jesusland.*

      (* Republican Jesus, not Jesus Christ.)

  • avatar
    Advance_92

    “Archer Daniels Midland will be able to run diesel generators long after your uncle is forced to put his Fiat 124 Abarth into the barn at his country place.”

    How about a Fiat Barchetta, instead?

  • avatar
    LS1Fan

    I don’t subscribe to the doom and gloom outlook.

    99% of ordinary drivers don’t know their oil filler from a hole in the ground. If I snapped my fingers and turned every Accord ,Camry and minivan into a 400 mile electric car by force of Harry Potter style magic the drivers would probably just shrug – if they even cared. High speed cars will never be mainstream regardless of the powerplant.

    Just look at the sales charts: the entire production run of cars like the Chevy SS are outsold by base model Malibus inside of a week. People have always viewed cars as expensive commuting appliances- unless it’s a premium brand in which case it becomes an impressive commuting appliance. Us enthusiasts are an automotive equivalent of the Amish insofar as John Q Camryowner is concerned. V8s and manual gearboxes may as well be an alien language to be masses.

    I make those points to get to this one; nothing D.C. or automakers do for the mainstream market is going to impact the automotive enthusiast community composed of a small fraction of the new car business and a large fraction of used and modded sports cars made 10+ years ago. Us kooks will continue our gearhead ways ,as we did during the “Drive 55” years or when brand new V8s cranked out 190 crank HP. Electric vehicle regulations will have as much relevance to car enthusiasts as what the Sultan of Brunei ate for lunch yesterday.

    We have our tribe,and Sally Q Public has hers.

    • 0 avatar
      Arthur Dailey

      @LS1fan, It is because of comments like yours that I so enjoy TTAC.

      Horses stopped being a common means of transportation over 7 decades ago, but there still remains a strong ‘horse culture’ with races, dressage, equestrian events, ploughing, etc.

      Rather than being mainstream, it has become a hobby.

      Heck, the same can even be said about steam locomotives, they still exist for hobbyists.

  • avatar
    raph

    1969 was a good year to come along. The Millenials can have their future since I wouldn’t have fit in anyway.

    If I can be that crochety old guy in his geezer Mustang I’ll be just fine while my retirement lasts.

    The trick of course is to time your demise with the last little bit of money in the bank – fortunately I have an ace in the form of type II diabetes and as a friend recently demonstrated by going off his meds and refusing to stop drinking you can pull the plug so to speak in as little as 2-3 weeks thanks to ketoacidosis.

    • 0 avatar
      87 Morgan

      raph.. you need to adjust your thinking. If you are going to go, well might as well go with some fun.

      You don’t need to exit with your last dollar. You need exit 90-180 days after the last cash advance you took against the CC you opened up a year ago and have not used, save for minor purchases and been paying off dutifully every month. Make sure it has a 20k limit and you have gained yourself at least 3 months..
      When I go…I am damn sure going to go giving the finger to the CC companies that have been mailing me crap every month for (hopefully by then) 60 years or more.

  • avatar
    LDeaton

    Assorted governments tax oil and gasoline at various rates. Seems to me that when there begins to be more ev’s than ice’s, those taxes will need to be shifted to electricity. Plus all costs for updating our antique grid. It’s likely to make the cost of keeping your beer cold prohibitive. “Hello, I’m from the government, and I’m here to help you.”

  • avatar
    Master Baiter

    I’ll just buy bags for my wife and daughter to live in, and move to Kuwait. Gas is under a dollar a gallon.
    .
    .

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      Well, ohh-la-la, Mr. rich man. Too good for Venezuela and it’s $0.01/liter gasoline?

      http://www.globalpetrolprices.com/Venezuela/gasoline_prices/

      You could use the money you save to have Amazon deliver food by drone.

  • avatar
    Duaney

    Two development’s would make a difference. Nuclear fusion instead of fission. Unlimited electrical energy. Breakthrough battery technology. If those happen, then all would be electric cars.

  • avatar
    manbridge

    Meh.

    Not to worried bout the future because we don’t solve tomorrow’s problems with today’s technology.

    Regarding Europe, why should the rest of the world care if they want to regress to an EV way of life? It’s old tech that promises nothing. More breakthroughs in ICE technology are yet to come…

    In the end it’s about people. It’s hip to think more people is somehow evil. Truth is that there is plenty of land and resources for all.

    And Jack, you’ve never told us about your mother…..

  • avatar
    low_compression

    Real question, no snark. Did people bemoan the loss of the horse and buggy like this in 1910? I don’t know for sure, but I’m guessing they did. Every generation post-industrial revolution has seen change at a breakneck pace. I’d love to see less gov’t intervention in the direction of the change, but we’ve always had that too (see, railroads).

    A lot of ink has been spilled over whether humans are adapted to deal with change that comes this fast. For the vast majority of human history one generation lived almost identically to the last.

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      I hear there are even some crazy enthusiasts out there who still buy into this obsolete horse technology, even getting together on weekends to race them!

    • 0 avatar
      chuckrs

      The frontispiece picture in “The Shock of the Old: Technology and Global History since 1900” is of a large team of mules pulling a wheat combine in (IIRC) Washington State. The year was 1941. Today, there are still about 9mm horses in the US.
      While I loves me some new-new things, I just don’t see them transforming the world as quickly as some others do.

      I’d love to see less gov’t intervention…..

      US railroads – gov’t +
      US solar industry – gov’t –
      German solar industry – gov’t –
      European small car diesel – gov’t –

      • 0 avatar
        joeaverage

        Less government involvement made the city of my childhood almost unlivable. Like it or not the more of us there are, somebody has to watch over us all and keep the polluters policed.

  • avatar
    hpycamper

    Too dire. ICE will not likely be outlawed any more than horses were outlawed when they were no longer the first choice for transportation. There’s a barn with some horses next door and sometime in the future there will probably be some nice gas powered cars in there too.

  • avatar
    Pete Zaitcev

    Compared to this, people of the gun have it easy.

  • avatar
    Wheatridger

    Speaking of young folks and cars- right now, my daughter is setting off on the longest solo road trip of her 20 years. Driving her very own car from Tacoma to Denver, stopping at the homes of friends along the way, she’s free as a bird… well, a migratory bird, with places to go and deadlines to make. Since she got the car in May, she’s spent only one weekend within her college town. This bird has flown!

    So there’s rock-solid, anecdotal proof that the urge for auto ownership remains strong. ; >

    One of the most useful things about kids is that they can change their elders, often for the better. There was no way, never-ever, that I was considering an electric car for my own use. But as I was searching for an affordable, low-mileage car with a tailgate, not a trunk, a certain model kept coming up that checked all the boxes. So I flew out there and helped her pick and buy one. Driving it for the rest of my visit, I bonded with it. Once back home, my old gas-only car had lost much of its appeal.

    Suddenly, I find myself in a two-Ford family. Something I would have never dreamed of six months ago. I was totally unaware of this car, even forgetting the lone detail I remembered from the initial reviews, how little leaves grew on the instrument panel when you were behaving. But I just now unplugged my 2017 Ford C-Max Energi from the cord, and I plan to take a fast drive up I-70 this afternoon, just because.

    Left to my own habits and prejudices, I would have probably bought another VW, maybe even one of the newly legalized 2015 TDIs. But I’m happier with something new, a 50 mpg car that doesn’t suck like a Prius or blow like a diesel. It’s a choice I could only see when looking for someone else, with my ego parked at the curb. Maybe this is one way the electric transition happens?

    • 0 avatar
      HeyILikemySaturnOK

      @ Wheatridger,

      Wonderful post. Open-mindedness and being open to re-evaluating preconceived notions are great qualities.

      May you and your daughter both enjoy your new rides!

      • 0 avatar
        joeaverage

        I have a relative that LOVES her C-Max Energi. It was on our list before we decided to go for a three row for the first time – and we’ve made good use of it. Next vehicle to replace our other car in a few years will be a smaller two row. Might be a C-Max, a Chevy Bolt, or a Leaf – or something else electric.

        Wife and I carpool with that car. We use the three row for our travels with the kids plus luggage or their friends.

        • 0 avatar
          Wheatridger

          Owning a C-Max feels like being in on a secret. It flies under the radar so much, I imagine it might fight speeding tickets!

          An all-electric vehicle wasn’t on my list, but a plug-in hybrid checks all the boxes. Not many other cars offer gas-free commuting and long road trips, with serene highway cruising. Add in the $9007 in tax credits in my state (Colorado) and I felt like I couldn’t afford not to buy one.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    I envisage the future to be sort of like living in a large “Western” European city, like Paris or London.

    You don’t require a car to live in these cities. I think this is great as my cousin pointed out the benefits.

    His brother (believe it or not is my cousin) live in the outskirts or outer suburbs of Paris within Ile de France. He needs a car. He earns a little more, but his standard of living and quality of life is lower.

    My cousin with the money he saves travels, generally flys and rents a car when he arrives at his destination, if required.

    I visit Paris quite often and I must agree if I lived there I would not own a vehicle, not because of costs, but you just don’t require one as public transport is comprehensive and on the odd occasion you catch a cab or Uber.

    This is the future in all major cities around the world. You will travel using mass transit, fast train or fly.

    Why would you own a car?

    As I’ve stated most any car a person owns is a want. The people who require a car tend to buy well above what they need, like buying a pickup and driving around empty, when all you need is a Getz.

    Not owning a car will allow us to invest money into other areas to enhance our lives as well. So it isn’t all negative and when you have the urge to go for a spin, just fly to Abu Dhabi and go to Ferrari World and buy a few laps or go karting.

    • 0 avatar
      TW5

      The future in Australia, US and Canada will probably not mirror Western Europe. We have too much land, too much wealth, too much common law, and too few people.

      Western Europe is its own microcosm, and they need to be left to their own devices. They like to pretend they have superior international social capital because their culture is mature and they cooperate well with one another in international harmony. Their history is much less noble, and they can barely agree on a system of weights and measurements, let alone a common language, currency, or commercial code. Western Europe can’t even reproduce at high enough rates to sustain their socio-economic bureaucracies.

      Even Europe’s former penal colonies have surpassed the old continent ; )

      Looking to Western Europe is looking backward. Australia will be best served to engineer its own culture, socioeconomic institutions, and lifestyle. Same is true for most countries.

  • avatar
    TDIGuy

    I’ll need to find the link but I recently read an article summarizing a study which has proven that the overall impact of making an electric car is much great than a fuel powered one. Most of the difference originates from the effect of mining the materials to make the battery and the manufacturing and transportation.

    • 0 avatar
      markogts

      Just ask the Koch brothers a copy, they paid for it, should have plenty…

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      I wonder what the green types would think about the “lithium triangle” of South America, where indigenous people are being pushed off their lands so they can be scoured for battery-making materials. Or the cobalt mined underground in Congo by children.

      washingtonpost.com/graphics/business/batteries/
      congo-cobalt-mining-for-lithium-ion-battery/

      It takes a whole lot of human misery to drive guilt free.

      • 0 avatar
        joeaverage

        People aren’t going to worry about the people in any Lithium triangle any more than they worry about the poor within the USA or the starving children of Africa.

        Its not right, but its the truth.

        If the world goes electric there will continue to be battery design advancements to lessen the volume of expensive materials. Lithium will either be replaced with something else or a recycling process stream will be created.

        Follow any electric vehicle enthusiast group and you’ll see that batteries are evolving. Doping of anodes and cathodes for example with minute volumes of certain elements.

    • 0 avatar
      rpn453

      The overall environmental impact of manufacturing a $100,000 Tesla is probably about ten times that of a $10,000 Nissan Micra.

      Certain hybrids certainly make economic/environmental sense for many people. If the more affordable electric vehicles aren’t economically beneficial for anyone yet, I expect they will be soon.

      People who truly care about the environment prove it by living well below their means.

  • avatar
    TW5

    It’s an interesting article, but it’s based upon false pretense or misunderstanding of various goings-on.

    Force 0: The elimination of the combustion engine is not real policy, and it probably won’t happen. In fact, most of the major ecological changes in the past decade have not occurred as a result of ecological planning. The US did not sign on to the Kyoto Protocol, and our major reduction in greenhouse gas emissions has occurred as a result of fracking, which has created a huge glut of natural gas and cheap natural gas electricity. Electric cars are obviously part of the supply and demand function for natural gas and they tie into huge capital projects the EU wants to find sources other than Russia for its natural gas.

    While the EU will certainly push for electric cars, they are really trying to change public sentiment and speculation in the gas markets to make supplying Europe more profitable for people with high transportation costs, specifically the US and Middle East (since they don’t have an existing pipeline to Europe).

    Also, the push for electric vehicles could be significantly undermined if the O&G industry puts their research money into carbon-neutral fuels like algal oil. Perhaps it is too late to save the passenger car industry because I suspect most people will prefer electric vehicles to the NVH of internal combustion, but some vehicles cannot be run on electricity. Bio-diesel will become a real thing for trucking and air travel, and bio-gasoline will probably exist for light-truck fleets, which will allow lovers of “classic” ICE performance cars to drive guilt free, if they choose.

    Force 1: The triumph of urbanized society is not what people think. When people hear about rapid urban growth, they think about an urban metropolis, but that’s not where the growth is happening. If you look at US census bureau, the rapid growth is occurring in super-suburbs. In fact, 4 of the 5 fastest growing cities are in Texas (Conroe, Frisco, McKinney, & Georgetown). These are all suburbs of Houston, Dallas, and Austin. These cities have growth rates average 6%-7%, which would be like NYC adding 500,000 residents each year. Instead, NYC added just 20,000 residents in 2016. The entire list of fastest growing cities are all suburbs or small cities. In my opinion, they are growing rapidly because housing is affordable, which means millennials are not actually renting apartments in perpetuity.

    We are actually witnessing a realignment in population and economic power from the major metropolises and the public transportation systems to nascent cities and super suburbs, which rely heavily on traditional road networks. The average working-age Texan drives something like 18,000 miles per year. That isn’t happening with current battery technology. It will take a huge leap in the near future to shut down the ICE, particularly for SUV/pickup truck drivers.

    Force 2: The economic outlook is actually not as dismal as people think. The economy was so good in the 80s and 90s (relative to stagflation) that people reproduced at high rates. Also, millions of anchor babies were born due to our open borders and amnesty policy. The millennial generation is huge, and as they age economic prospects will improve drastically. The headwinds are entitlements (baby boomers could easily bankrupt the US), the US health care/insurance industry (the most mismanaged industry in the G20), and corporate tax reform (current repatriation tax regime is screwing up international capital markets). Unfortunately, economic optimism is about another 10-20 years away, depending upon the reforms or lack thereof. For older millennials it’s a sketchy situation because we could be in our mid 50s before the malaise lifts, which puts us in a bad spot, like the Silent Generation.

    Also, the economic outlook could improve drastically if they will just get the under-24 demographic into the labor force, rather than teaching them to borrow their way through early-adulthood. Student borrowing and pathetic employment rates for the under-24 demographic is what started this mess.

  • avatar
    05lgt

    You can’t go for a drive past the mansions or our betters without seeing horses. They even still race them. No significant portion of the population uses them for transportation though. They may need on track betting to keep interest high. You can still find sun dials, muskets, and trebuchets too. Cars are interesting, not least because we allowed them to command so much of our space, time and resources for so long. I’m sure all of our automotive related sacrifices will eventually look just as strange as building houses with nice high porches to stay above the horse$4it soup does now.

    I just have to stay rich enough to drive my damn car until my time comes. I’ve never owned a car I don’t wish I still had. It’s a sickness I guess.

  • avatar
    vanpressburg

    “Two generations from now: Nobody’s falling in love with cars any more.”

    This is the horrible future according George Orwell. Everything will be regulated.
    When the liberals started their revolution in 60s, they fought for freedom, now they want regulate everything.

    • 0 avatar
      joeaverage

      Maybe it is just that the liberals want to regulate things important to you. Where I live the liberals are a minority and it’s the conservatives that want to limit people’s access to various healthcare services, limit who marries who, who can adopt, use war as a solution for political and business problems around the world.

  • avatar
    gottacook

    I would ask that commenters (and the author) read and respond to this white paper that was posted today by the International Council on Clean Transportation. It will take a while (lots of data) but offers a lot to chew on with regard to the topic under discussion:

    http://theicct.org/leading-us-city-electric-vehicle-2017

    • 0 avatar
      chuckrs

      California imports 1/3rd of its electric power as of 2016. A portion of that is coal fired. They are disproportionately natural gas and their electric rates reflect that.

      Consumer incentives is a nice euphemism for tax dollar bribery to go electric. From the paper, seems like that still is up to $7500 Fed and up to $5300 CA state and local. (page 4-5) Sooner or later though, you run out of other people’s money. And there are the listed non-financial incentives affecting ease of travel.

      The paper refers to a type of local disincentive in other states – asking BEV car owners to pay a fee towards road maintenance. Sounds more like asking for a fair share contribution than a disincentive.

      I haven’t had a chance to read too much further, but if I absolutely needed an efficient commutermobile right now, I’d look at a new Camry hybrid at a claimed 50mpg highway. I might also toss the tires if they were too skittery, and take the mpg hit from stickier rubber. I don’t need such a beast – my driving amounts to 700 miles per month. I’ll continue to use a paid-for much less efficient car until circumstances change.

  • avatar
    Troggie42

    Here’s my solution to the electric car takeover and subsequent fuel cost crisis that is sure to develop: I’m thinking about taking a page out of the ecowarrior’s books and gonna make my own damn gasoline. Well, Ethanol, anyway. Convert and tune the car to run on e100, make it myself out of fermented sugar beets. One acre’s yield supports 90% of my current yearly driving habits assuming optimum conversion from beets to fuel. Do a bit of gasmaking on the weekends and keep me running throughout the week? Why not?

    Sustainability doesn’t just have to be for living off the electric grid, after all.

    (side note, sugar beets yields in the range of roughly 700 gallons an acre whereas corn yields roughly 200 gallons an acre based on my previous research, so we’re doing it quite wrong)

  • avatar
    LOL_no

    A lot right here. It doesn’t seem that the impetus for these changes will be mere social control or EuroSocDem idiocy. The impetus will be traffic, easily solved by autonomy + autonomous-only lanes, and a general lack of joy in driving.

    In the US at least, motorcycles and human-controllable enthusiast cars will continue to exist and be drivable… out in the country. How one gets to one’s enthusiast cars from the city is another matter.

    Jack nails how much all of these enthusiast vehicles will be worth to most people.

    Unless someone solves the “add-on autonomy” problem for pre-2021 vehicles. And given the difficulty of the task, most would ask why you would bother.

  • avatar
    Arminius

    I was just listening to Rush’s Red Barchetta last week (good backstory to the song as well). Won’t it be a lot harder to find functioning charging stations in the post-apocalyptic wasteland a la Road Warrior than it will be to find gasoline? I realize that gas won’t be easy, but there will be no central power generation. Therefore, you would have to find some type of self-sustaining solar station. It would also seem to be a lot more difficult to fix broken solar panels than it would an oil pump. Besides, driving off into the distance with a bus full of solar panels just doesn’t have the same dramatic effect.

    • 0 avatar
      gottacook

      The YA novel series that begins with The City of Ember is a post-apocalyptic story in which “diamond” solar collectors (left behind by civilization) are central to the resolution of the final novel.

    • 0 avatar
      joeaverage

      Okay, you’ve got crude. Its easy boil up some gasoline? ;)

      Regardless, any machine that moves will attract alot of attention. Perhaps negative attention.

  • avatar
    PenguinBoy

    Great writing, as usual from Jack. The closing paragraph of this article reminds me of a talk your clip from a few years back:
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=5Q0Svvdrx_E

  • avatar
    Shortest Circuit

    Choose mobility. Choose ride-sharing. Choose a hybrid. Choose to hum along in a line of indiscriminate beige suppositories to your meaningless job…

  • avatar

    Thanks, Jack, for pointing out the connection between the guitar and car. I had never considered that before, but I believe you’re on to something. I have a couple of younger friends and their choice of instrument was an acoustic over an electric guitar. In the middle of the garage band “so you want to be a rock and roll star” phenomenon of the Sixties, the overwhelming choice was the electric, not acoustic. In my neck of the woods the acoustic didn’t seriously re-enter the scene until the early 70’s with the advent of country rock (a few years earlier) and soft rock (what’s known today as yacht rock). Good article, thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  • avatar

    “a profound lack of interest among a generation of children who have found that you can become a master of “EDM” in the same time it takes a novice guitarist to learn how to successfully play the “D” chord.”

    Jack, if you had stayed at the NAMM show for a couple more days (http://jackbaruth.com/?p=6970), you would have been heartened by the number of 7-12 year old kids who came on the day when the show was open to the general public. Lots of little drummer boys and girls and kids playing guitars, and not just the Loog three string things made for kids.

    The percentage of kids willing and capable of doing the grunt work of practicing scales and exercises enough to become proficient on a musical instrument has never been very high. When I was a child it was more or less expected that middle class families would give their kids some kind of music lessons. Few become competent.


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