The transportation system is enormously fascinating and complex. There were a few decades of radical developments in the automobile about a century ago coupled with the growth of energy, roadway, legal, safety and other systems. The growth in the adoption of the car caused an enormous expansion of a sprawl to the suburbs that had been foreshadowed by commuter trains and new modes of shopping.
If you get behind the driver's seat of a 60 year old car you'll find yourself in a familiar place (try that with the console of a 60 year old computer). There have been a large number of refinements, but the "car-ness" hasn't changed much. Now we're at a point where the car-ness of an automobile may begin to change.
Most people tend to think about a change in drivetrain - an electric car for example. That is part of it, but only a small part. We'll see a move towards the electrocution of the automobile - probably the vast majority, but the degree will cover a wide range and seeing the majority of cars being electric is some time in the future - perhaps three decades or more. (note - the Chrysler turbine car was certainly not an electric vehicle, but underscores the focus on powerplants even though the overall system is more complex. It is also beautiful..)
But the real change is much richer than power plant. How are cars made? Where are they made? How are they used? What is the nature and rate of adoption for self driving cars? What do people expect from a car and is it changing across generations? Is the notion of range and refueling anxiety changing across generations? Amazon? Value of time? Do vehicles become more specific to the task? When and how are carbon strategies implemented? What is the path of applied research, research engineering, invention, and new technology? Grid directions? Vehicle to house, vehicle to grid? What synchronizes? Financing of all of this? What about the developing world? etc. etc. What about urban and suburban design?
So many questions and this just touches the surface. There are emerging signals and one can construct a few interesting models to gain some depth. Reality will not strictly follow them (that's why they're called models), but it may rhyme enough that they are interesting. It is great sport.
Horace Dediu and Jim Zellmer conduct fascinating discussions that speak to these issues at Asymcar - a podcast, but you can find individual programs and show notes on the site.1 They were kind enough to invite me to the discussion on Asymcar 16, so I'll take the easy way out and count that as my blogging hour this time around. We only scratched the surface, but this was an interesting discussion with two very sharp people.
For fun you might be interested in a short Ars piece on the evolution of automotive controls and interiors - something deep that we tend not to think about. One of the sharpest engineers I've met works on this problem - to say she is multidisciplinary is understatement.
There are several earlier posts that are relevant - you can also poke around in the energy category
If there is interest I'll write a post with some of the numbers and back of the envelope calculations you can use to compare apples and oranges in a meaningful way.
I've been playing around with banh mi variations - here is a simple pickled vegetable that works. Amounts are guesses - they won't be very critical
° 1/4 cup rice vinegar
° 1/4 cup water
° 2 tsp sugar
° 1/4 tsp salt
° 1 cup carrots cut into matchsticks
° 1 cup peeled daikon radish cut into matchsticks
° combine vinegar, water, salt, and sugar in a medium bowl, stirring until sugar and salt dissolve.
° add carrot, radish, and red onion and toss. Let stand for at least a half hour stirring occasionally. drain the excess liquid..