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Skid Marks
Swerving stories, careening comments and oversteering opinions
by Joe Sherlock

Future Shock - Automotive Predictions For The Next 100 Years
(Written - September, 1999)

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As the Century and the Millennium stumble towards a close (they won't officially end until December 31, 2000 but no one seems to want to acknowledge that), it's time for me to make some automotive predictions. Of course, you won't know whether all my forecasts will come true for about 100 years or so. I'll be dead by then - so, if they all come true, please put some flowers on my grave. Here are my predictions for the next Century:

2006 - The self-diagnosing automobile is unveiled. Every morning at 2:00 am, your car will run complete mechanical diagnostics on itself, including tire pressure as well as tire and brake wear. If there's a problem, your car will send you e-mail and tell you where it hurts.

2009 - The recent demise of those high-priced, pseudo-gourmet coffee drinks sends Starbucks looking for a new fad. They turn all of their coffee houses into tire stores. While they will disdainfully sell you 'regular' tires if you so demand, they would rather sell you some of their designer tires - custom-molded while you wait - in special colors to complement the color of your car. Try the Aruban-blue Neoprene blend.

2013 - The first commercial fuel-cell-powered automobile is introduced by ToyotaFiat - the TF 3000 (3000 for the next millennium). Almost-centenarians Carroll Shelby and Lee Iacocca announce a joint venture to produce a fuel-cell-powered 'Cobra-like' hi-performance car. Later indicted for stock fraud, both are executed under the new one-strike-and-you're-dead law, signed by President Geraldo Rivera.

2017 - The majority of all American cars are now hybrid-powered with pancake electric motors at all four wheels assisted by a small displacement, high-output Miller-cycle hydro-gas engine. Mileage of 50+ mpg is common.

2022 - The last car dealership in North America closes its doors. The popularity of the Web for car buying, the ability to use virtual reality technology to test drive any model and the introduction of FedEx's special car carriers (their PPP - Portal-to-Portal Program) to return cars to regional factory service centers for warranty/repair work (and re-deliver them back to the customer) are all cited as reasons for the demise of the independent automobile dealer.

2028 - Programmable auto-driving cars, which use a combination of radar and a GPS unit to operate, are introduced. Get in, tell your car where to go and it will drive you there in the most timely and efficient manner possible.

2036 - Mandatory recycling of all automotive components becomes law. All new cars manufactured in North America, South America and the PEU (Pan European Union) must have 88% recycled content. To avoid compliance, BMW moves all automobile manufacturing to United China.

2047 - USAToday.com does a humorous retrospective on the SUV-craze of the 1990s. Many middle-aged folks are now buying and restoring ancient Expeditions, Navigators and Tahoes in an attempt recapture their youth. Author and cultural observer, Andrew Rooney IV, writes a best-seller about the '90s - "When We Sat Up High."

2058 - Auto-driving programmable cars are now made mandatory under the Clinton-Carter bill (named after its sponsors, Senators Chelsea Clinton and Amy Carter). Manually-operated cars must be converted to auto-drive. You must now obtain a special permit (like a parade permit) every time you want to operate a car manually. Permits cost $3,300.00 - fifty times the cost of a first-class postage stamp. Senator Clinton proclaims, "This is an end to road rage as we know it. It's a great day for America." Car buffs are outraged but, as usual, do nothing but gripe to each other and write a few blustery letters to Hemmings Motor News.

2069 - Remember the big wedding in 2025 when Frank Zappa's only daughter married a Kennedy? Who ever thought she'd be the one to go into politics! Well, in 2069, newly-elected President Moon-Unit Kennedy has a swinging, retro-1970s style Inauguration party. Seventies-mania sweeps North America (now known as NorAm.com). Lincoln offers sedans with giant chrome grilles and padded roofs in the style of the old Town Car. Cadillac offers a shrunken version of the 1975 Eldorado convertible. Healthy, 101-year-old President Kennedy (she doesn't look a day over 53) is presented with the first retro-Lincoln Town Car to roll off the Mexico City assembly line, complete with optional gangsta wide-whitewalls (she ordered it that way).

2099 - The 1970s fad is long over, replaced first by a 2040s fad and now by a 1960s fad. On December 31st - at the stroke of midnight - a retro-Chevrolet Corvair (introduced last year by GM/Intel) suffers a severe mechanical failure and careens out of control in Washington, D.C., crashing into a statue of Ralph Nader in Clinton Park and instantly beheading it. Thus ends the 21st Century.

Copyright 1999 Joseph M. Sherlock. All Rights Reserved.

P.S. - To read about the fallacy of future predictions, go here.

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