Cars have come a long way! The earliest models from the late 1700s had a steam engine and some had just three wheels. And up to the early 1900s, when the electric starter was invented, many people had to rev up their engine on their motor car with a hand crank. Considering how much has changed for cars in a couple hundred years, we can reasonably assume that there are plenty of advances ahead. We asked a panel of professionals what they think is on the horizon. Read on to learn more.

Ian Martin Ropke

Ian Martin Ropke

Ian Martin Ropke is the founder and owner of Your Japan Private Tours, a private travel expert since 1990, high tech global startup entrepreneur since 2010, and business, culture, lifestyle journalist since 1995.

Classic Smart Car

The future of cars will be all about smaller cars, fewer people actually owning cars, and less usage of cars in daily life. Most cars will shrink towards the classic Smart Car and cover the most essential needs for any family of 4 or a group of 4.

Smaller means less expensive and smaller also means that certain kinds of standardization will also come to define the “common car.” And most cars will become like bicycles that anyone can use and then drop off for someone else to use. This is clearly an option now in Paris as shown in the movie “Inferno” with Tom Hanks. And most people will rely on cars less and less.

The exceptions to all of this will be about those who can afford personal cars versus everyone else that can’t. Cars will, therefore, also become personal wealth statements well beyond what you get with a Ferrari or a BMW, as most people will no longer be able to afford “uncommon cars.”

Electric and self-driving

Here’s what my 8 ball says: in the future, all cars will be electric and self-driving. Carpooling will be far more common and far fewer people will own their own car. Instead, you’ll call a self-driving car to come to your location and drive you wherever you want.

Katie Holmes

Katie Holmes

Katie Holmes, Lead editor of OutwitTrade.
Will Hatton

Will Hatton

Will Hatton is the founder of a travel blog The Broke Backpacker.  He is a writer and hustler, adventurer and vagabond.

Allow us to travel longer distances

Cars of the future will allow us to travel longer distances than ever before. The distance capacity will become greater, and cross country journeys will become a norm with the ability to cover over 700-1,000 miles on a single tank. Excited about this one!

Autonomous

Cars will continue to become more autonomous. People like to drive, though, so there will continue to be a market for cars driven by humans, but even those cars will have more and more autonomous features in an effort to make the driving experience as safe as possible.

I expect that more cars will run on batteries and that battery technology will be developed to make more efficient, powerful, and longer-lasting batteries.

As far as body-style goes, I expect a shift from popular mid-size SUVs to smaller vehicles.

Melanie Musson

Melanie Musson

Melanie Musson is an automotive and car insurance expert for AutoInsurance.
Saurabh Jindal

Saurabh Jindal

Saurabh Jindal runs a startup called Talk Travel.

Highly automated

I think the future of cars will be with highly automated and self-driven cars. The [advances] in technology will result in highly equipped and technically advanced cars, which will enable automated driving. They will be fitted with high-quality sensors and recognition capabilities to recognize objects, people, and signals on the roads and thus move and drive accordingly. They will lead to increased productivity for people, as they will be able to use their earlier driving time to much better purposes.

Bound to evolve

I’ll focus my attention on how consumers buy and sell cars. The future of car buying looks an awful lot different than it does today, or even a few weeks ago. The days of going into the dealership, haggling over price, and getting the runaround from the salesperson (“Oh, let me go check with my manager”) will no longer exist. Partly as a result of COVID-19, and partly because consumers are simply fed up with the experience, car dealerships are finally going to join the rest of us in the 21st century.

Over the coming months, and into the next three to five years, more and more people will buy cars online. Dealers will have to restructure their staff to accommodate these changes. Cars will still get test-driven, and customers will still have questions that need to be addressed, but more and more of this will become self-service. Any reliance on a salesperson or manager will slowly fade away, and consumers will become more empowered than ever before to make a purchasing decision on their own.

Research shows that car salespeople are not considered particularly trustworthy (my dad was one, so I feel somewhat biased to say that not all salespeople are out to get you!), so maybe my “magic 8 ball” assumption for what the future holds for cars isn’t that bold or exciting. It could be that what I’m suggesting is actually pretty mundane and bound to happen. How long will consumers tolerate an untrustworthy purchasing experience on what is typically the second-largest purchase they ever make? Not too much longer, I don’t think

Cars and mobility are bound to evolve and change in ways I certainly can’t imagine in the coming years. Yet, when I look into my magic 8 ball, all I can see right now is a drastic shift in how cars are bought and sold, and that’s something I would bank on.

Zach Shefska

Zach Shefska

Zach Shefska is Founder and CEO at Your Auto Advocate, a car buying service that employs former dealership employees to locate and negotiate car deals on behalf of their customers. Outside of the office, you’ll find Zach behind either a pottery wheel or flight controls of a Piper PA-28 airplane.

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