Vintage Weekend Part One – Legal Bill asks, What will your next car be?

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[Foreword: We love to post stuff that our members contribute on the forum. This weekend will see the publication of two such posts from members of the Vintage S2000 owners forum. It is my hope that you will enjoy reading these and contribute to the discussion. Tip of the hat to S1997 for referring this post 🙂 ]

Click here for the discussion thread.

It’s a common question and as a car buff, it is one you ask and are asked many times in the course of a year. But if you think you will be buying your next new car in five or six years from now, what do you think that new car will be? What choices will you have?

Car experts, fans and journalists usually have a pretty good idea of what will be out next year, or the year after that. Sometimes we even get wind of what is under development and expected in the next three or even four years. But when we think about five, six or seven years out, the best we can do is make educated guesses, and read or listen to the guesses of those more educated than we. Often those predictions are very far off he mark. Sometimes a prototype seen at a car show gives an accurate prediction of a single model of the future. But without some really good inside information, the best we can do is guess.

Today we have a hint at what the cars of the near future will be. Our government just announced the fuel economy requirements for 2016. Each manufacturers fleet average must be 34 MPG. This is for all cars AND trucks. See the article from CNN here.  Today’s fleet average is 27 MPG for cars and only 23 for trucks. So the builders have to improve economy by some 30% over six years.

Some of you may be thinking, “Well, that doesn’t sound too hard. If they gain about one or one and a half MPG per year, by 2016 they will have hit the number.” But not so quick. Let’s not forget that automotive product planning takes years from proposal to production. The cars and trucks of 2016 will need to be conceived very soon if they are to be developed and produced in time. Emerging technology that is cutting edge today will have to be something that can be mass produced very soon, or it won’t make the cut.

I predict hybrid and electric car technology will lead the way to this near future. The manufacturers saw these requirements coming. It was just a matter of learning the exact final number. But whether than number was 34 MPG or 36 MPG, the use of electric and hybrid technology was assured. But is this the entire answer?

Recently, Road & Track published an article by staff technology editor, Dennis Simanitis. The good engineer offers this partial solution “Add Lightness.” I recommend this article to anyone who is interested in the future of the industry.  His most interesting point is this: Had manufacturers kept car weight and performance about the same for the past 16 years and applied all the technological advances towards economy, average economy today would be close to 40 MPG. But manufacturers added weight and performance aplenty. While MPG improved, the improvement was slight as a result of a three way compromise between luxury, economy and acceleration.

So what can you expect in 2016? In addition to the electric and hybrids, expect to see lighter, smaller cars. I think it is also safe to say that you will not see big increases in performance as compared to today’s averages. Also, you will see an increase in the number of new cars that are not sold in the US. One easy way to make the US average is to simply keep the gas guzzlers off shore.

If you plan to buy a larger car and want high levels of performance, expect to find more hybrids than non hybrids on your shopping list. And if you want sporty, expect to see some interesting hybrid combination along the lines of Honda’s CRZ.


But I think the most interesting development will be the light weights and mini cars of the future. Whatever the fleet looks like, it will look considerably different than today’s fleet. Get ready for some changes.

Legal Bill

Images courtesy of Triple-H (CR-Z /CRX comparo) and dlq04.

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