Balboa Park-The Future

The Future exhibit

Balboa Park-The Future

Cars of the Future and Personal Transportation

From the time that cars were first conceptualized, there was always the question of what will the future of cars or personal transport could mean. One of the most prevalent concepts was a car that would either run on air or fly. Countless books, movies, and television shows have been populated by the flying car or air driven cars. This has not yet become a daily reality, but other alternative fuel powered vehicles have and will continue to do so.

Alternative Fuels—Not a New Idea

When cars first were being produced in the late 1800s, gas powered cars were not the first cars created. Vehicles running on steam were created in the late 1700s and vehicles running on electricity were created as early as the 1830s.

Electric Vehicles/Hybrids

Electric cars are not new concept. Some of the first types of engines made for automobiles were electric, but they were expensive, slow, and needed frequent recharging which made them less popular than gasoline engines. Now, the electric hybrid vehicle has made its impact with almost every car manufacturer. From compact cars to super cars, there are fully electric or electric hybrid options.

Electric Motorcycles

Motorcycle manufacturers do not all have electric or hybrid options. Only a few companies offer electric vehicles. Currently, Harley Davidson has a prototype electric motorcycle, the Livewire. Victory has now come out with the Empulse TT. Some manufacturers, such as Zero, Lightning, Energica, Sora, and Brammo (now owned by Polaris) offer only electric options. The limiting factor with electric vehicles remains to be range and available charging stations. 

Electric Bicycles

Electric bicycles are beginning to increase in popularity. Electric bicycles work like manual bicycles but with electric assist. Unlike other electric vehicles, when the charge is depleted, the user can continue to travel under their own power. There are electric bicycles that cover all types of bicycling activity, from commuter/city bicycles to mountain bikes to folding bicycles for shorter distances. Electric bicycles have ranges between 20 to 30 miles, depending on the terrain and the level the rider is pedaling. The fastest speed of electric bikes is required to be regulated at 20 MPH per government specifications. 

Hydrogen Cell/Hybrids

Some of the newest alternative fuels consist of hydrogen-based cells. The only emission from these vehicles is water, but the technology is so new that there are very few charging stations available. One of the most publicized cars with this technology is the new Toyota Mirai. "Mirai" in Japanese means "future." It boasts a 300-mile range on a tank of hydrogen with a charging time of only five minutes. The self-driving prototype, the F015 by Mercedes, is also a hydrogen cell hybrid.

Saltwater Cell/Hybrids

The primary forerunner of this technology is QUANT with its nanoFLOWcell. It uses an electrolyte flow system that originally was based on technology developed for the NASA space program. It boasts of 370-mile range and powered by saltwater. The engine has 912 HP with 0 to 60 in 2.8 seconds and a top speed of 230 mph.

Air-Powered Cars

Compressed air-driven cars are not new but they have not been used for automotive purposes. MDI of France is promoting the AirPod vehicle. The range is approximately 125 miles with the highest speed of 50 mph. One of the most interesting aspects is the price which would be approximately $10,000.

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