The Truth About Cars » future technology The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Mon, 28 Jul 2014 11:00:04 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » future technology Automotive supplier prognosticator predicts demise of the steering wheel by 2025 Thu, 17 Oct 2013 11:00:50 +0000 The end of the steering wheel

Be afraid. Be very afraid. If the aspirations of one automotive supplier come to pass, your child’s first car will not have a steering wheel come 2025, rendering her or him nothing more than a mere passenger inside a tiny commuter pod.

In this frightening article from The Detroit News, Han Hendricks (no relation to Christina Hendricks), vice president of advanced product development for the Milwaukee, Wis.-based supplier Johnson Controls in their automotive electronics and interiors wing suggests that as auto manufacturers race to develop, and then improve upon, autonomous cars, the driver will figure less and less into the overall scheme of things (something that has been evolving as of late, with parking and lane-keeping technologies as two examples), leading to the deletion of the steering wheel around 2025. To quote:

After 2025, the steering wheel will play a less dominant role in the interior. With fully autonomous vehicles, you don’t have to be forward looking as a driver, you don’t need to have an instrument panel. Then you can really just think of a car as a box that you enter.

All just as well, since by then everything your child will think, do or say will be in the pill they took that day anyway.

To hammer the point home, Hendricks goes on to mention that Johnson Controls is planning to speak with automakers in China, Europe and North America in November about this brave new world, as well as the usual industry experts and visionaries who deal in such things as the transition from driver autonomy to robot car autonomy, all in order to refine their dream of the automated superhighway of tomorrow.

If you’re a driver, however, don’t expect Hendricks to ask you whether or not this is desirable:

It’ll help our vision become more robust. It’s not as if we’re going to go out and ask consumers, because people just don’t think about it.

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Volkswagen Agrees With Toyota – On Future Technology Mon, 21 Nov 2011 14:23:21 +0000

Volkswagen had painted a bulls-eye on Toyota and wanted to beat the Japanese by 2018. At least in terms of production numbers, Volkswagen will have Toyota beat this year. Instead, VW has to contend with GM.

The long-term new energy strategy of Volkswagen and Toyota on the other hand could have been devised in a joint planning session. Volkswagen believes that near-term, the plug-in-hybrid has a great future, whereas Volkswagen’s CEO Martin Winterkorn won’t live long enough to witness the boom of the pure electric car.

The German newspaper Handelsblatt has an interview today with Winterkorn. It echoes in large parts the interview which I had ten days ago with Toyota’s Chief Engineer Satoshi Ogiso. The two sound amazingly similar: Bullish on plug-in hybrids. Cautious on EVs.

Winterkorn on EVs:

“I cannot imagine that the whole fleet will run on pure electric power in the foreseeable future. A current technology lithium-ion battery weighs 250 kilograms, and in the best case, it will take you 150 kilometers down the road. Maybe this can be optimized a little, but I expect significant progress only from the next generation of batteries. From our current perspective, this could be based on lithium-sulfur. This battery could be good for 300 kilometers.

A decisive technology leap could be lithium-oxygen batteries. This is a topic that still needs a lot of research. With this technology, a car could have a pure electric range of 450 to 600 km. That would be the breakthrough.

But I don’t expect it before 2030. It won’t happen in my life – at least not in my life as CEO of Volkswagen.”

Winterkorn on plug-in-hybrids:

„The bridge to the future will be the plug-in-hybrids. You can charge their battery from a wall socket. You can drive 50 or 6o kilometers on electric power, then, an efficient internal combustion engine powers the car. Right now a gasoline engine, at some point in time a diesel.

That way, the battery can be down to two thirds of both the weight and the price of a pure EV. Don’t forget, the battery of a pure EV alone costs €8,000 to €10,000. Together with Bosch, we want to reduce the price of the battery to € 5.000, but that is still a lot of money. A battery for plug-in-hybrids runs us only €3,000 today.”

Interesting: Winterkorn didn’t mention hydrogen at all. Volkswagen used to be gung-ho on hydrogen.

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BMW Announces Environmentally Friendly Drivetrain Of The Future Fri, 26 Nov 2010 15:08:11 +0000

Major players in the industry think that EVs are a stopgap measure at best. Volkswagen declared that nobody wants EVs, except governments. In Japan, Toyota and Honda are talking louder and louder about hydrogen. There must be something better than plugins: A revolutionary technology that powers the car from a renewable energy source in an environmentally responsible fashion.

BMW just found what the world needs.

BMW’s CEO Norbert Reithofer said today that automakers, especially German automakers, need to look beyond electricity as the only renewable energy source. He thinks it’s foolish to focus on a single technology, reports Associated Press via Canada’s CTV.

Ok, ok, what is it? You’ve heard it here first:

Reithofer said Germany’s leading automakers “have to come up with something new.”

No kidding, really? You bet. Reithofer predicted that future cars will be based on “a new concept, new construction.”

It’s that simple. German ingenuity at its best.

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