Predicting the automotive future – a practical view

Saturday, December 17th, 2016 - autos, cars, motoring, news

Source : Predicting the automotive future – a practical view

Professor Neville Jackson doesn’t need a crystal ball to predict the future trends of motoring – in fact, This specific’s his business to know


Predicting the future will be something many experts avoid like the plague, although for Professor Neville Jackson, head of technology in addition to innovation at 100-year-old Ricardo plc, there’s no hiding place.

Ricardo will be a consultancy: This specific makes its money spotting transport trends in addition to demands ahead of others, then coming up with the solutions This specific believes big manufacturers will need for a happy future.

This specific entails having a pretty accurate idea what customers will want coming from their cars within the next two to three product cycles, say between today in addition to 2030, a tall order when you consider how much cars have changed within the recent past. Who’d have expected a three-cylinder, 1.0-litre Mondeo? although when I spend an hour with Jackson at Ricardo’s Shoreham HQ recently, he describes the future having a willingness in addition to clarity I simply haven’t heard before.

In 2020, says Jackson, we won’t see much change compared with the cars we know today. Things will be better done; cars will keep getting cleaner. There will still be plenty of diesels about, though they’ll gradually move to power bigger cars.

We can expect more electric functionality in cars in addition to more downsizing of engines, although battery costs in addition to weight will still dominate hybrid projects.

By 2025 we’ll see a graduation to more powerful, 48-volt electrical systems in cars, not least as a way of allowing cheaper types to keep using affordable, latest-spec lead-acid batteries (without the need for complicated controls systems) that will can cut emissions although keep prices down.

Further up the cost scale hybridisation may well become synonymous with performance. Slow in addition to fast versions of a car will have similar consumption in addition to emissions although faster a product goes, the more powerful its electric motors will be, propelled by bigger in addition to more expensive its battery in addition to supporting electronics.

By 2030 we should see This specific technology spread downwards as volume cuts costs in addition to promotes knowledge. Hybridisation will have spread to many cars. Pure electric vehicles will have much better ranges in addition to move towards the mainstream, though charging will still be problematic for people living in densely packed suburbs.

Lighter cars are undoubtedly coming, says Jackson, although not simply because manufacturers adopt lightweight materials like aluminium or carbon fibre, both many times more expensive than steel. Lightness will have to be designed in, using revolutionary construction. 

in addition to hydrogen? This specific may come, Jackson allows, noting Toyota’s recent statements comparing progress of its forthcoming hydrogen cars with the onrush of its Prius range of hybrids through the 2000s. although This specific won’t arrive before someone finds a way of generating low-carbon hydrogen (most at present comes coming from hydrocarbons) in addition to then invests billions distribution. Believe I’m being told not to hold my breath.

Most striking will be Neville Jackson’s faith within the future: he will be undaunted by the UK government’s much publicised in addition to seemingly impossible undertaking to cut the country’s carbon emissions by 80 percent by 2050, not much more than three decades’ time. “I’m a great believer within the persistence in addition to power of engineering,” he says calmly. “This specific will find disruptive solutions we can’t predict, just as the internet has brought advantages to our age we never expected.”        

We talk much more – as will soon become clear – although by the time I leave Jackson’s office I feel a curious sort of calmness. When storms threaten, This specific’s great knowing such men as This specific have a hand on the tiller.

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