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A smooth journey for the cars of the future: why collaboration is key

The cars of the future will be shaped by three major challenges: the need to reduce emissions, rising congestion and increasing demand for flexible mobility. No single company, government or industry cluster will be able to resolve these challenges on its own.

To develop the cars of the future successfully,  organisations from across different industries will need to work collaboratively and with government, bringing together ideas, talent and intellectual property from beyond traditional boundaries.

Where we are now

The car has underpinned economic growth by linking producers to consumers, facilitating social integration and creating innovation. Today, it faces three challenges:

  • growth in car numbers (to 4 billion by 2050) will result in significant congestion
  • the need to reduce vehicle emissions means future cars will be used differently and re-fuelled differently
  • many city dwellers want flexible mobility across multiple modes of transport rather than relying on a car.

Collaboration among industries and with government to address these challenges means that the cars of the future will be markedly different from cars of today.

The cars of the future will be electric vehicles

In response to environmental concerns and limited oil, the automotive sector is developing alternatives to oil-based engines, although these are some years from being economically viable. In the medium term, governments will encourage the use of electric vehicles through purchase/usage tax incentives. However, in the longer term, once electric vehicles become more prevalent, the cost of doing so will not be sustainable.

Cars of the future on the information highway

Vehicles already provide drivers with data on speed, location and fuel economy. Third parties also increasingly supply cars with traffic information services. Future will collect and use a much wider range of information as part of the ’internet of things’ where everyday objects such as cars will carry an individual online profile. For example:

  • roadside sensors will capture and disseminate information directly to vehicles and road authorities
  • vehicles will exploit more accurate information on vehicle position, vehicle speed, driving style and journey origin/destination to communicate in real time with:
      • other vehicles (for safety reasons)
      • road authorities (to support congestion management)
      • energy providers (to inform vehicle-charging demand)
      • vehicle insurers/recovery organisations (for faster incident management)
      • retailers (for advertising to mobile phones as drivers enter shopping areas)
  • information systems will augment driver skills to make mobility more fuel efficient by planning routes, forming road trains (groups of vehicles linked by a sensor system to allow them to travel close together) and even driving the vehicle.

New city mobility solutions

The cars of the future will be put to use as part of the innovative models being developed by different types of organisation to provide more flexible mobility solutions:

  • combined rail and electric car tickets, such as those offered by the EV network and service provider, Better Place, and the Danish rail provider
  • car-sharing (putting your car into a car-sharing pool for common use) e.g. RelayRides in Boston, or ride-sharing (dynamically sharing empty seats) e.g. go520 in Seattle
  • High-Occupancy Vehicle lanes
  • off-peak vehicle-charging services provided by utilities
  • schemes to buy mobility rather than vehicles, e.g. Daimler and Peugeot’s pay-as-you-go schemes for cars and bikes.

PA is working with a range of private-sector companies, government and academia to help develop future cars – fostering convergence of energy, infrastructure, technology and automotive companies. This includes providing information to road users, developing new business models (e.g. car-sharing schemes) and developing strategies for technology exploitation.

To find out how PA can make the cars of the future part of your organisation's future, please contact us now.