The future is already here

There are some big challenges ahead for the aftermarket, Neil explains what's in store

Published:  21 January, 2015

By Neil Pattemore

So, if diesel engines are the new pariah, what's the alternative? New designs of petrol engine are coming into the market using smaller capacity engines with turbochargers to produce higher power outputs. In doing so, higher combustion pressures and temperatures increases NOx. This needs post-combustion treatment, with as yet, unknown longer term impacts, so is there a truly 'green' alternative?

The obvious answer is electric cars - accepting that the electricity needs to be generated somewhere, but it might be easier to clean up a power station than a myriad of cars - but are they viable? The answer is now probably 'yes', but at a cost. However, prices are already starting to drop as new registrations increase, albeit from a very low volume base. With Tesla now being the most popular car in Norway and with a new smaller and cheaper 'model 3' being launched in 2016, this is a game-changing scenario. The performance and range are highly acceptable and Tesla has now made their clever fast re-charging algorithm openly available to other electric vehicle manufacturers as a philanthropic gesture to support the industry sector. At the other end of the scale, there are new small electric vehicles coming to the market which can be type-approved as quadracycles (they must weigh less than 450Kgs without the battery) - think Renault Twizy. These may technically be classified in the same category as a powered two-wheeler (motorcycle), but have real-world practicality in the inner city environment.

With Lithium-ion batteries now being developed that can provide three times the performance and crafted to be part of a vehicle's body panels, new vehicle designs will certainly be different to those we all know today!

Working on cars may also change in the near future with the development of augmented reality, where a camera worn by the technician as part of a pair of special glasses will allow corresponding repair information to be projected onto another part of the glasses to guide the repair process with details of the spare parts needed - all in real time.

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