Auto Manifesto

January 1, 2008

The Future of Automotive Transportation

This is my opening post of what will become a repository for various ideas, thoughts, and concepts pertaining to the future of automotive transportation. I have a collection of notes scribbled on Post-It notes and scraps of paper. They’re not doing anyone any good in their current state, not even me (too disorganized for my tastes).

We live in an interesting and fast changing era. Much will change and nothing is certain. But it’s safe to assume people will still conceive, design, develop, regulate, manufacture, transport, sell, service, and recycle the vehicles of the future. By examining current trends we can begin to see what may be in store down the road.

Essentially there are only three fundamental issues with the automotive industry today. Environmental, safety, and economic. The first two are regulated in the United States by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) as well as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The economic issue centers around dependency on foreign sources of petroleum. Many of those sources are hostile to the US and therefore represent a threat to both national and economic security.

Beyond the economic and national security issue, it has become apparent to many that the use of petroleum is not sustainable. We can’t go on consuming it at the rate that we have been. As if that wasn’t bad enough, due to the growth in demand from developing (China, India, et al) and industrialized (US) nations it’s becoming less sustainable even faster. Depending on who you ask there’s a strong possibility the world is going to run out of usable oil within 50 to 100 years.

Not only that, drilling for oil, transporting, refining, and burning it is not doing anything good for the environment. It doesn’t matter if you believe it’s a contributing factor to global warming. The fact is that every pound of fuel burned results in more pounds of carbon dioxide (as well as other substances) being released into the atmosphere . In a way it’s like smoking. You may not get lung cancer from it, but isn’t the act of burning something and inhaling it unnatural? There are going to be side effects.

Finally, from a safety standpoint roughly 40,000 people die each year on American highways from vehicle-related accidents, and millions are injured (about 3.3 million in 2006 according to the Centers for Disease Control).

All these factors combined clearly indicate that the automotive industry will undergo massive changes. I’m here to talk about the problems, provoke discussion, and hopefully help find solutions to these issues that we face.

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