What is my next car going to look like ?
There are big changes taking place to the design and content of cars that will be available to us in the coming years. Its happening now and its going to continue into the future. Cars, as we know them, are going to disappear. Engines are going to be replaced or supplemented, by electric motors. What to buy in the future is going to be like looking into a crystal ball.
One thing is certain, we who live in Aberdeen East are not getting any younger, but we might want to keep driving. In the coming years we will have to make decisions about what kind of car to buy. The familiar car will disappear. Volvo cars will no longer make a petrol or gasoline engine after 2020 (two years). In the UK, these engines will no longer be allowed, anywhere, after 2040. These are signs that things are changing, and over here they are changing fast !
This story has been written because the author is exchanging his lease car next year and wants to share with our neighbors, his own thinking after doing a lot of research.
There has always been one kind of car....that is a car propelled by a gasoline or diesel engine, technically known as an Internal Combustion Engine (ICE). That's no longer the case - we have three more !
We have 'all-electric' cars that don't have an engine, just an electric motor. And the battery that propels the electric motor is charged up at home, or at charge stations that are appearing up and down Florida, and throughout the country. (The one in our crystal ball is an all-electric Tesla S).
We have 'hybrid' cars, that have both a gas engine and an electric motor, where sometimes only the engine drives the car; sometimes the engine charges the battery that drives the motor which then propels the car along; and sometimes both the motor and the engine work together to propel the car along. The driver can select a setting that decides how these combinations work together. Or it can be left to the brains of the car to work out the best and most efficient combination.
We have 'plug-in hybrid' cars. These are basically a combination of the two above. This is because they are a hybrid car ( as described above ) but with a larger battery which can be charged at home or at charge stations. This kind of car gives you a choice of just running about with an electric motor, without ever needing to use the gasoline engine. How far you can run on just a battery alone depends on the car....some will travel around 22 miles, and others around 45 miles, and others somewhere in between. But then it can be switched into hybrid mode where the motor and engine run together.
So the question that will face us all looking to buy or lease a new car is Which kind of car do I buy with all these choices. So here's what we have found :
The all-electric car is great.....there will be no need to go to a gas station for gas again, and charging with electricity is proving to be a lot cheaper than filling up with gas. They are very fast, and accelerate like a racing car and are extremely quiet. But they are the most expensive of the available choices, and worst of all is a condition many are having who have bought these cars. It's called "range anxiety". This is the fear of running out of charge with the battery going flat. These cars can be charged at home which is good if we are just running to the local stores like Walmart and maybe the movies etc. But going further afield such as a trip that takes us out of State, and "range anxiety" can grip us. Although the car will show us where the charge stations are located along the route and whether they are busy and available, traveling long distances may still cause this fear of getting a flat battery along the way. These batteries can take up to 12 hours to charge (usually a lot less) and we will have to break the journey to spend time waiting for the car battery to charge so we can continue on our way. Although charge stations will be more prevalent as the months and years go by, many are in areas where it will be difficult to spend upwards of twelve hours, for example, some are located on the first floor of parking garages. But, thankfully, for local trips they can be charged from home, using either the 110volt supply or 220volts, while we are in bed.
The "hybrid" is a good choice. It won't matter how long our trip would be as the gas engine will keep the battery charged, so worrying about a flat battery would not be a problem. Visits will still have to be made to the gas station, but what makes this different to a normal gas-driven car is that the combination of a gas engine and an electric motor means the cars can go up to twice as far on a gallon of gas. Sometimes the gas engine drives the car and sometimes the electric motor. The management system switches between them so there is no need to think about which which piece of equipment is propelling the car along. But this kind of car is not designed for running about on just the motor.
The "plug-in hybrid" makes for a good combination but these are around $8,000 more expensive than an orthodox hybrid. These have large battery packs and a gas engine.The benefit of this plug-in version is that it can be used for all-day running about on the electric motor, and for longer journeys it can be switched into hybrid mode. It's a combination of everything. Also in the Landings, we have our car ports, and these can be ideal for accommodating a group of solar panels on the flat roof. In the daytime sunshine, these can charge a special battery that is built onto the wall of the car port called a "power wall", and then the charge built into this battery can be unloaded into the car while we are asleep in the night. Its a great combination.
So these are the cars that are coming into the showrooms now. There is even a hydrogen version although this is only sold in California. All are very different to what we are used to. We can't ignore this change, because its happening now, and the gas-only engine will disappear in time. The displays in the cars are very different....many now look like an iPad with a smart screen, and there are hardly any buttons to press. They are all packed with technology....even "head-up displays" where the speed and engine/motor/battery information is projected onto the windshield.
The internet is packed with information on all kinds of cars and its all there to be read. It's all moving so fast that recent visits into the car showrooms indicate that the car sales staff just don't have all the knowledge needed to properly guide prospective buyers. We suggest you read and try to get ahead of the game.
My current favorite ? The Honda Clarity plug-in hybrid.
If anyone is curious about this car the following link leads to an interesting review.