U.S. News has predictions for transportation technology in 2018. In a nutshell, sales of electric vehicles will take off, but people will also keep buying inefficient gas vehicles because is relatively cheap right now.
According to this article, the commercial rollout of autonomous vehicles has suffered some setbacks, and 2018 might not be the big widespread adoption year.
Automated vehicle developers will push back their timelines for deployment, for good reason. Automated vehicles are coming, but the real question is when. Just over a year ago, tech magnate Elon Musk said he “felt pretty good” about a Tesla driving completely autonomously from Los Angeles to New York without any human interaction by the end of 2017. But at a recent conference, he pushed that date back another two years. Chevy delayed the debut of Super Cruise, and driverless shuttles have yet to move beyond pilot phases.
Society will greatly benefit from automated vehicle safety improvements. However, it’s a good thing that automated technologies are delayed. Automakers are finding it more difficult to design the system than they originally expected. Instead of putting a product on the road that is unsafe, they are responsibly taking the time they need to make sure the system is ready for the public. Patience will pay off in the long run.
I wonder if it is really a setback in technology, or a matter of a few high profile accidents getting a lot of media attention. Markets and regulatory agencies are going to respond to perception, no matter how clearly the statistics show that imperfect computer-controlled vehicles are a huge advance over human controlled vehicles. Insurance companies are somewhat immune to emotion and responsive to hard numbers though, so at some point when there are safer options available they may just jack rates up on people who don’t take those options. It probably won’t pay to be a late adopter.
According to Fast Company, Volvo is planning a move to 100% hybrid and electric cars.
Between 2019 and 2021, Volvo will launch five 100% electric cars–three Volvo models and two under Polestar, its premium brand. The rest of its new models will be either hybrid plug-ins or hybrids that generate power from braking.
The company is moving towards electrification more quickly than it initially thought was possible. In 2015, when Volvo first announced a plan for electrification, the company’s senior vice president of research and development said that the Volvo would focus on hybrids and that it would take time for fully electric cars to be viable.
But battery costs have plunged, falling almost 80% between 2010 and 2016, and are likely to fall further. Charging infrastructure is spreading. New regulations, like an EU law that limits CO2 emissions for cars, and France’s newly announced phase-out of internal combustion engines by 2040, mean that traditional technology has to change. And customer demand is increasing.
Electric cars don’t solve all the problems cars cause of course, such as urban sprawl, pedestrian deaths, obesity, and wasted time. But they solve the air pollution problem (locally, at least, and regionally if there is also a shift to cleaner power plants) and the problem of producing, refining, transporting and storing large quantities of toxic and carcinogenic gasoline and diesel fuel.
Electric cars and self-driving cars are both going to happen at the same time. Here is Inhabitat on the Nissan Leaf:
We’re just a few months away from the debut of the all-new 2018 Nissan Leaf – and the automaker just announced a killer feature for its next-generation electric vehicle. In addition to a complete restyling and a longer driving range, the 2018 Leaf will be able to drive itself with Nissan’s new ProPILOT Assist autonomous technology.
ProPILOT Assist can take over driving tasks on the highway, which includes accelerating, braking and steering controls. The 2018 Leaf won’t have the full SAE Level 4 technology, which would give it the ability to also drive autonomously on city streets. Nissan says that “in the coming years” the ProPILOT Assist technology will be improved to give it the ability to navigate city intersections.
According to Bloomberg, electric cars are set for a big boom by 2020 and could lead to a peak and decline in oil demand sometime in the 2020s.
Electric cars are coming fast — and that’s not just the opinion of carmakers anymore. Total SA, one of the world’s biggest oil producers, is now saying EVs may constitute almost a third of new-car sales by the end of the next decade.
The surge in battery powered vehicles will cause demand for oil-based fuels to peak in the 2030s, Total Chief Energy Economist Joel Couse said at Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s conference in New York on Tuesday. EVs will make up 15 percent to 30 percent of new vehicles by 2030, after which fuel “demand will flatten out,” Couse said. “Maybe even decline…”
“By 2020 there will be over 120 different models of EV across the spectrum,” said Michael Liebreich, founder of Bloomberg New Energy Finance. “These are great cars. They will make the internal combustion equivalent look old fashioned.”
The New York Times says car dealers are actively subverting peoples’ attempts to buy electric cars, even when they really want them. One reason they cite is that electric cars need less service like oil changes, and dealerships actually make a lot more money from service than from sales. This may be a rational explanation. But part of the explanation may also be that people can get sucked into longstanding institutional cultures even when they are highly irrational. I face this quite often in my work, and I have faced it around the world – groups of people can be incredibly motivated to defend the status quo, even in the face of incontrovertible evidence that there are better ways, and even when the people in question are young, intellgient, well-educated and well-intentioned. Sometimes the facts just do not matter. I don’t have the answer to this, if you do please let me know.