In an age of rapidly increasing technology and production ability, electric and autonomous vehicles seem to be set to thrive, despite the unfortunate aesthetics of concepts like Volkswagen’s Sedric (above). This leaves many petrolheads with a looming sense of fear and impending doom for the driver’s car. While the environment is, of course, an important factor, many of us would simply die off without the obnoxious symphony and toxic aroma of the petrol thirsty V12, or the tire shredding thrill of watching drift cars destroy their tyres and the environment at a similar rate. It seems we may have reached a golden age in the petrol powered automobile, but is it a final flare before the end?
Fully autonomous automobiles are still a ways off (at least as far as production models go), but they might be hitting dealership lots sooner than you think. Tesla’s fully electric cars have a semi-autonomous ability, which allows drivers to take their hands off the wheel while cruising, but that still requires the driver’s attention. However, many companies are hard at work developing fully autonomous technology, which would enable both fleet cars, public transportation and private vehicles to operate without any drivers or direct human input whatsoever. Surely, this will be the end of cars meant to be driven and enjoyed, right? We must only be a few years away from some autonomous reality similar to that seen in the hit movie “iRobot.” We even saw the spherical wheels and tires from that movie on display at the Geneva International Motor Show.
Fortunately, I don’t think the reality of tomorrow is that dark and gloomy. The reality of it is, manually driven vehicles will remain for those of us who choose to buy and drive them. Mass autonomous technology will only serve to make our drives more predictable and, quite likely, more pleasant. With advances in dual-clutch, flappy-paddle gearboxes, everyone feared the death of the manual gearbox; now we have the 911 R and the new 911 GT3 is being offered with an optional manual gearbox. We have the Jaguar F-Type SVR and its manual V8 which sounds like Thor in a frantic rage. And let’s not forget the Aston Martin GT8, or perhaps the fact that you can still buy a brand new 1967 Shelby Cobra.
Not only that, electric motors have proven to create some of the most insane vehicles on the road today, such as the Tesla Model S P100D and its 2.28 second 0 to 60 mph, or the Rimac Concept_One (below). When coupled with petrol power, electric motors can contribute to what have become the undisputed greatest cars of the current generation – the Ferrari LaFerrari, McLaren P1, and Porsche 918 (you might also want to include the Koenigsegg Regera).
The fact is, while the future of society en masse may be electric and autonomous, there will remain a demand for driver’s cars, sports cars and super cars. There will remain a demand for glorious petrol power, just as there has remained a demand for simple, manual gearbox, soundproofing free machines of unrestricted passion, soul and driving experience.
Top Photo Credit: mkeevo –Imgur