Envisioning the cars of the new millennium

By Ashleigh Viveiros
Garden Valley Collegiate
Winkler, Manitoba

We've probably all thought about it, while watching the Jetsons or some other futuristic show, just what would it be like to drive those cool futuristic cars? Cars that fly or turn into a submarine at the push of a button? Well, we're not quite there yet, but we are making some drastic changes to the cars we drive.  

The future is much closer than we think. Car manufacturers predict that as early as 2020, cars, as we know them , may no longer exist. But what will the cars of the future be like?

We know for sure that we need to make cars lighter and smaller for better mileage. Some prototypes of future cars look tall and boxy. But Rick Schroeder of the Garden Valley Collegiate Automotive Department disagrees with this vision.

"I do see the cars getting smaller. I don't see them boxier," he says. "But can people afford them? That becomes an issue of pressure."

By pressure, Schroeder means government standards and costs. Already, government safety standards make it next to impossible to find, buy and license a cheap old car.

Another aspect of future cars with which we are already becoming is "smart cars". Cars today are more frequently using the GPS (Global Positioning System. Satellites are used to find stolen cars, unlock car doors, plot driving routes, and even reserve tickets to events! Future smart cars may drive themselves to a set location, finding the quickest and safest route by avoiding traffic and accidents. And just how will these glorified hunks of metal know about such things? Easily. They'll just "talk" to other cars or satellites, using the radar and sensors built into their frames. They will also use those same sensors to determine what is around them and to adjust their speed accordingly.

  Then there are the famous electric cars. These are the cars most often portrayed in movies or shows of the future--cars built of lightweight material, environmentally friendly, and incredibly quiet. These cars use electric motors as opposed today's polluting gasoline cars. A drawback to electric cars is that today's prototypes must be recharged every three to four hours, and that is obviously not good for driving all day or long distance. But there could be a solution to this problem.

"Maybe you'd have a town or city car that would be electric, where you would just do little short trips and then, for the longer hauls, you'd have another family vehicle that runs on diesel or gasoline," say Schroeder.

There are also other cars, not as polluting as today's cars but not yet as environmentally friendly as the electric car. These cars, known as hybrids, are a combination of an electric motor and combustion engine. In some prototypes, the combustion engine acts as a generator, taking over when speed or distance gets to a certain point to recharge the battery. Many people think that these hybrids are a big step towards totally electric cars.

Finally, there are the vehicle entertainment systems of the future. Already there are television and Nintendo systems in vehicles to make trips more fun. Some, such as Christine Froese, a Grade 11 student at G.V.C., hopes that future cars will be able to make coffee or hot chocolate.

"Cars are becoming more comfortable. I don't think they're necessarily the big power machines they used to be. But they're made to get you from A to B quickly, snappily, and comfortably," says Schroeder.


What will the cars of the new millennium be like? These few ideas just scratch the surface. Car manufacturers are coming out with new ideas and designs everyday. Who knows? Maybe a hundred years from now our cars will fly or turn into a submarine at the push of a button. Only time will truly tell.