Forbes Magazine presented its take on 10 factors to watch shaping the future of transportation…
1. 200-mile-range electric vehicles – Battery electric vehicles are in the 100 mile range. Tesla Motors is opening that up with its Model S, and that’s expected to be followed by competitors pretty soon.
2. High-speed intercity rail – This has worked well in Japan and France for many years. There are projects underway in California and the Northeast Corridor, but the US is still far behind.
3. Pod cars – GM has a prototype two-seater called the Electric Networked-Vehicle (ENV) that drives automatically and comes when you call it via iPhone. The cars are being developed with GM’s Chinese partner, Shanghai Automotive Industry.
4. Computer-driven cars – The Ford Fusion, Lincoln MKS, and Lexus LS460 can already park themselves automatically. Adaptive cruise control is being deployed. Lots of this new and advanced technology is in the works – they just need legal and consumer confidence concerns resolved.
5. Super mini-cars – Toyota’s five door super-mini concept FT-Bh (Future Toyota B-segment Hybrid) weighs less than 1,764 pounds with emissions 50% lower than the average production model in its class. And it gets 112 miles per gallon.
6. Car sharing programs – This is starting to take off in cities like Seattle, Austin, and Vancouver, BC.
7. Space tourism – While Elon Musk’s SpaceX has opened the door, other companies are on the way such as Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic, along with XCOR Aerospace and Armadillo Aerospace.
8. More carbon fiber – Light vehicles are a major part of meeting increasing mileage standards. Carbon fiber is leading the way, along with aluminum, titanium, and stripped-down systems in engines and transmissions. Carbon fiber-reinforced plastic also plays a role in lower-end models.
9. Real-time transit services – Public transportation and specialized driving services, such as for the elderly, will be able to adjust automatically according to inclement weather, schedule infractions, and traffic congestion. Small companies are taking information communication technologies and applying it to transportation and it will have major implications, says transportation expert Daniel Sperling, director of the Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California.
10. Congestion pricing – Traffic has its impact on cities – from air condition, health, and safety. We may be seeing things like automated charges for drivers during peak hours, on major roadways, or as congestion increases.