Sometimes, concept cars sport revolutionary concepts like the Toyota FT-4X that has everything removable, or the Audi AI: TRAIL that features drone headlights and hammock chairs. If you recall there was even a time one of the seven interspersed concept cars Apple has failed to produce promised ball wheels that were omnidirectional.
No more! We want to see some real action here! How long has Tesla been digging those darn tunnels now? Can we please get a superspeed underground highway already? Airless tires… doesn’t it seem like it should exist already at the consumer level? We could go on and frankly, we will. These are the 10 things that we have been promised but still don’t have in the automotive world, and why they are so necessary. We have been wowed by the improvements they pose, so now let’s see it become a reality we can touch and feel!
Consumer-Grade Airless Tires
If you haven’t heard, the idea with the airless tire is that affordable rubber makes structural support that mimics a certain PSI, one that doesn’t vary based on the temperature and will never need to be checked or reinflated until the tread wears out. We have even been promised off-road and performance tires that will cost almost the same as regular ones!
So where are they? Have you seen a single real airless tire? The fact is, yes you can buy these things, sure, and most ideal for your ATV, but they still pose some…fixable issues. According to Depaula Chevrolet in New York, airless tires are heavier, trap heat more, and have less suspension. It’s smoother when the force of an impact can dissipate like a balloon being punched instead of, say, a comb facing downward. Unless Michelin can hack it with their tire-wheel “tweel” combination designed to fix all of these, we might be out of luck.
This may bring up the question, how far can a car go on one charge, refill, or air-gas fill up? For gas, the record is 1,626 miles in a diesel Volkswagen with just 20 gallons in the tank. One solar car, without plugging in, did go 12,500 miles on just the power of the sun but it was the most physically aerodynamic vehicle ever invented, contained a tiny one-passenger cockpit. The thing costs an estimated $500,000 and can top out at 75 mph but is not street legal.
Unless something crazy happens, driving a Tesla-like car on just solar will not be physically possible in our lifetimes, since even a 100% efficient solar panel the size of a car’s upward-facing surfaces would only power a Tesla-like car for about 30 miles after charging all day long. And what about nighttime? Nuclear has been suggested, sure, but the dangers of crashing, disposal, and the large protective barrier make it out of the question for now.
Truly Self-Driving Cars
Many have the misconception that Tesla’s are self-driving and while yes, people take naps in them while they drive, the cars are far from autonomous for legal reasons. The ability is so very much proven, and the debate is on as to whether we should allow computers to take over our driving or what that will do for traffic, road policies, and the lifeblood of automotive innovation: motorsports.
The convenience of being able to do work on a morning commute or just plain not worry about traffic for hours at a time is plainly a great advantage, and trusting the far safer computers to rule the road has clear advantages, so why isn’t it allowed yet? Because self-driving isn’t foolproof. Other drivers acting wrong, whether conditions like snow-covered roads and the old “hurt the driver or the pedestrian” moral question has stalled development and will probably keep the cars in the courts and off the roads until more proof and assurance can come forth, like a standardized self-driving safety test that exceeds most extreme road conditions.
The Boring Company’s Tunnels
The Boring Company started as an idea from the eccentric Elon Musk and has played with ideas such as superspeed transportation in the form of hosting contests for students, but mostly has teased the very exciting potential for filling a gap in long-distance travel: the thing in between freeways and airliners. They released a most compelling concept video in 2017 showing a Tesla parking on a car elevator, dropping into the tunnel, then getting picked up by an autonomous fast-moving cart that would reportedly go up to 124 miles per hour. That speed has been bumped to 670 mph after experimenting and now the 6-hour journey from LA to San Fran could be done in a reported 35 minutes, faster than an airplane and without any boarding or expensive tickets.
Yes! We want this so bad! A hop and a skip over to Vegas would take everyone in the U.S. three hours or less by their own car! So what’s the holdup? Obviously, infrastructure. After 18 months of work, the company made a 1.7-mile stretch for $52 million dollars, which may sound like a lot but since there’s no resurfacing or adding lanes to be done, after just 10 years it would cost just 80% more than a slow, old-fashioned freeway (according to numbers by the American Road and Transportation Builder’s Association). Additionally, a Tesla-driven track has been made for $10 million a mile in Hawthorne, CA but only allows naked Teslas to use it so the speed is less, and the lanes are a total of one.
Uber is drooling, like a lot of us, over every “automated rideshare” vehicle we see. Some of our favorites are driverless buses that consist of mostly glass, some seats, and forward or backward driving ability. Lyft bosts 100,000 self-driving cars on the road but further inspection shows that this just means Teslas used for Lyft, and except for a few scarce Youtube videos and conceptual reports, there’s nothing to say these are commonplace in any way. They are being tested in two sunny-weather cities on a very provisional level, and yes you can go to
Vegas and try one out, but snow, demand, trust, and the governments are all stopping it from moving past that for now.
The idea of a subscription doorstep bus-like service for the budget-minded is enticing, no doubt. The deal is even sweeter to imagine as an autonomous fleet owner who has nothing to do with drivers or limiting their operation, but sadly it’s just not as available as we’d like.
Flying Personal Transportation
Ever since early cars, even buggies, people dreamt of their rides just picking up and floating over traffic, trees, and towns to get to their destination. Doc Brown fueled the dream when he declared, “where we’re going we don’t need roads!” Flying cars seemed to be so close to becoming realities for so long thanks to hundreds of tech companies and start-ups releasing frustratingly far-off concepts and animations. Real flying cars are almost impossible to find thanks to this, and the closest to a freeway-going flying car we have is the PAL-V Liberty from Europe (pictured).
As one Twitter man put it, “you all want flying cars but you can’t even drive right!” There will be no air-going highways probably ever thanks to the weather, people’s lack of skill, and the inefficiency of air travel. The best we can do is make cars that can take off from airports and mimick airplanes, all of which still require a pilot’s license and will, thankfully, require them for the foreseeable future. In the meantime, the flying car concept moves closer to a functional highway-ready family car combined with the capability of a Cessna.
An argument could be made that if we had access to public tracks in major U.S. cities that we wouldn’t need to modify our normal cars, pollute the skies, or endanger people with rackless racing. A public track would have scheduled events, open-track times and days, and be set out of earshot of annoyed neighbors. It would create jobs for thousands, put the USA on the map for motorsports, create a source of funding for cities via events, and entertain people! With a spot for local food trucks, you suddenly got yourself the perfect “bread and circuses” scenario.
So why doesn’t a thing like this exist? For one, we don’t trust the government to run it right and the government couldn’t trust us to use it right. Too much regulation would be needed and liability would abound even with waivers, requiring more regulations. Cost is a factor, of course, and then there’s the concern that the track would foster more illegal driving than creating an outlet for it. Overcome this and the auto industry would soar with better quality, a larger pool of designers, racers, and mechanics, and hey! Our jobs at Hot Cars wouldn’t exactly suffer either.
Augmented Reality Windshield
You may have heard of heat-sensing in cars, and yes… heads-up display exists, so why not augmented reality? The technology exists to know a driver’s head position, compare it to the real world, then give the driver a sort of future vision that only the over-engineered car sensors are capable of. A customizable display can subtly show directions right on the road, scan for black ice, keep a map in the corner, and potentially show limited alerts on the road instead of taking your eyes off it. And don’t even get us started on safety! The front end of your car will see around corners and highlight cars coming up or pedestrians zooming by before they come.
We can go on, what with speed, radar detecting (if legal in your state), accident reports, weather, music, and even flashes or alerts to keep you awake! The tech exists! The risk and finicky nature of technology in this vein puts it all back a few decades, but with heat-sensing, in BMWs and Cadillacs, we are but a display screen away from this sort of intuitive driving experience.
Listen to us experts at Hot Cars. Apple always has and always tease of releasing their own car. We will cover it only when it’s absolutely a reality, otherwise, we will only cover it as a concept. Even Elon Musk has scoffed at Apple’s claims to have a car out by “2024…or 2028.” This started in 2014. It’s not happening! As a joke, one creator made a fake animation of an “Apple car” containing omnidirectional ball wheels on what is clearly a Mercedes, but this isn’t the first case of those ball wheels being flaunted.
Goodyear played with the idea of magical “MagLev Tires” which are magnetically controlled ball tires that float a car above them. Citroen played with them on the proof of concept, and while the prototype isn’t pretty and can’t be convenient, the idea seems compelling: wheels that can be removed via a switch, height-adjusted magnetically, and parallel park anywhere the car fits!
BMW’s “Scales” And Integrated Functionality
BMW showed us a very artistically advanced concept they termed “scales” on the Vision Next 100, a potential child of the BMW i8. These “scales” are several things, one; aerodynamic cover for the wheels as they turn. Stacks of these triangle shapes extend and retract to make a rounder surface to cover the turning wheels, not necessarily practical or worthwhile but very cool looking in this case.
The second use was for functionality. Scales up on the dash would move in patterns to show your blinker, directions, and warning via blips of color that were hard-to-miss, physical, and beautiful on video. It plays with augmented reality on the windshield and does a great job of combining art and car, something that hasn’t seemed to click in very many vehicles under $100,000. Simplicity seems to be elusive, and hidden functionality that blends with the design is not far off but not yet here to our satisfaction.
Concept cars intrigue us with their out-of-the-box ideas and crisp designs, but these concepts are by far the craziest we’ve seen from automakers.
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