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How should your car be in 2020?

Hi, I need some ideas for new innovations (features, design, safety, etc.) in cars in 2020.
How do you imagine your car?
What should be standards?
What are the future needs?

I am collecting ideas for an university project.
I am thankful for every idea!


BMW’s 3/3/3 plan they were working on a while back seems ideal for me . A 3000 pound car, with 300 HP, and 30 MPG (overall) seems like an attainable goal.

It will be a conglomeration of parts and assemblies all designed to comply with some regulation or other either by a U.S. or European regulator. Or perhaps China will be a major market by then and the Chinese will add their regulations to the mix.

It’ll sustain a direct partial frontal hit by a rocket-propelled nuclear weapon while still protecting the passengers… a good goal.

It’ll be either an EV or a hybrid. If the EPA gets its way with regulating CO2, it’ll be an EV. Or powered by a rubber band. Which would make it more powerful than my '61 Beetle.

All of these things will cause the price to be a bazillion dollars.

MY car in 2020, however, will be a well maintained, well waxed, 2005 Scion tC. Which I’ll enjoy looking at from the window of the Old Veteran’s Home.

I’ll throw out a guess that cars will be flying by then. I’m not really serious though because Popular Mechanics in 1962 promised me that all vehicles would be flying by 1980. We all know what happened to that prediction. I’ll just say that a 2020 vehicle will probably look and drive just about like any new 2014 car or truck out there right now. That…and the items that @rattlegas has listed below.

In 2020 I will share my car with other people because it will be too expensive to keep to just myself. New insurance policies will be developed for multiple owners.

In 2020 my car will snoop on me. It will tell the cops and the insurance company if I speed or run red lights or drive more than my allotment.

In 2020 my car will force me to perform maintenance on the emissions system. My driver display reads " Car will only start 29 more times without maintenance."

In 2020 my car will know if I have a valid driver’s license because I will have to scan it to start the car. All driving telemetry will be recorded in the car’s “black box”.

I’m afraid I agree with rattlegas. Already they pick up cockpit conversations and record speeds and braking and other items, so the rest can’t be far behind.

Actually, I would like to see fewer wacko improvements and just leave them alone for a while. For example I talked about all four windows and the sun roof opening on my Acura when it was snowing out when somehow the lock button got pushed twice in my pocket while I was working in the garage. A thunderstorm would have been a catastrophy. Now they are talking about the trunk opening just by standing by it for three seconds. I’m sorry, I can open my own trunk. And the navigation system telling me I’m in a field when I’m on a four lane highway or I’m on an uncharted road. I’m sorry, I can handle it myself. Just lay the programmers off for a while and take a breather before you hurt someone.

Sadly, I too agree with rattlegas. Excellent list.

I think we have to put things in perspective. A lot has been made of hybrids for example. But really, how many are on the road. The features we would like to think will be the norm, won’t be in the majority of cars on the road. On new cars, they will still be options and on most cars which are on the road now and bought within the next two or three, nothing dramatically new. 2020 is 6 years from now.

If you really want an idea of how different most cars will be on the road, you need to stretch it to 20 years. Otherwise, you are just talking about a few of the total. Do you really think that for example, Toyota which has had the same motors and transmissions in many of their cars for 10 to 15 years and are just coming out with a couple “new” ones along with a slight change in management systems, in 5 years things will be that much different ? Heck no. A few cars will have cutting edge potential mentioned by “rattle gas” but little of this will be realized for you and I.

Oh yes, a few wow features like auto magic door openers and and optional car parking/driving features over restricted roads and accesses…but that has little to do with what the vast majority will be driving. I could still be driving the same cars I have now, very little different from those 6 years ago.

The OP’s vision is NOT far enough ahead. 2020 is NOW in engineering development time. 6 model years out means that the early R&D parts are already in the lab and on vehicles being tested for performance. Most automakers have new inventions already well along in the development cycle before they start a new model. It takes 36-48 months to develop a new model. 18 months before that, guidelines are being developed by marketing on what targets the new car has to hit. Since marketing people have no clue what is possible from an engineering standpoint, they must be sold the new feature during that process. All this means that 5.5 years before the new model lands on the showroom floor, the “what if” process is largely done. Some new development is done in parallel but that is risky business. @Quilmes, set your target to 2030, not 2020.

2020 will see all that connected-ness that @rattlegas quite aptly outlined. Other developments can be found in the many trade publications targeted at the auto industry. Increased use of aluminum and carbon fiber, gasoline fueled diesels, turbo WITH supercharging and direct injection on both gas and diesel engines. Pedestrian airbags. Better hybrids with more plug-in’s, duel fuel natural gas/gasoline engines, natural gas options, broader release of “park-itself” cars, lane-keeping systems, auto-brake systems, “smart” cruise control systems.

All kinds of electronic controls to make really bad drivers seem like fairly good ones… :smiley:

Another way of attempting to weigh how cars will change in the next six years, which is not, from my perspective a long time, is to go back in six year increments to watch the progression. I believe that self driving cars will be rejected at times for those who like to drive. An airplane type “Black Box” for every car makes perfect sense to aid with identifying driver responsibility rather than have trial lawyers fight it out with whatever incomplete clues they might have in the case of an accident. A dash cam as the Russians use could be part of that. That is an extension of driver training and law enforcement for those who might not like it.

I agree that the OP probably should have written 2040 rather than 2020, but the fun of prognosticating should not be lost due to a technicality.

It scares me to realize that “black boxes” are already with us, and in the not-too-distant future our entire driving behavior will be subject to “instant replay”. And perhaps even to control systems that override our decisions… much like distant techies in internetland have taken over our computers.

tsm: Behave yourself and you have nothing to fear about a black box recording your behavior. What’s to be afraid about?

Hopefully about the same as it is now, only 6 more years, probably 200k plus.

For econoboxes, ideally they’d be smaller and lighter, less polluting, with fewer electronic gizmo add-ons. MSRP corresponding to $15,000 or less today. 0-60 time: less than 10 seconds. AC an option, not required. 5 speed manual always available as an option. And whatever technology used, get 50 mpg highway, 40 mpg city. And be designed and constructed – sans unforseen accident - to be expected to last 30 years on the road before being retired.

Note: You asked what they “should be”, not what they likely “will be”. I don’t actually think my wish-list above is what will happen.

The gas mileage standards will drive the design. Look for smaller engines, turbocharged, direct injected, and a lot of lightweight materials used. Performance will suffer somewhat, since fuel economy is number one priority.

I can visualize a Camry size car with a samll 4 cylinder engine, lots of aluminum and carbon fiber, good crash resistance and hybrid option at not to much of a premium.

The year 2020 is not far away; look back 6 years to 2008, and note that cars were not much different. The mileage standards will have the most impact.

More Diesels(if we can fuel them) more electrics,some more absurd safety devices,less truck drivers because of some really restrictive licensing requirments,more truck lanes(to separate traffic to make truck and car collisions less likely)more self driving features,manual transmissions very rare,more( ugh) plastic,thinner stronger glass, all new cars will be tracked and disabled at will and list goes on, more modiefied fuels to cause more problems,etc-Kevin

I don’t really see many changes between now and 2020. I bought a new Toyota 4Runner in 2003. This was a new design. I bought a new 2011 Toyota Sienna which was again a new design. I have both vehicles and I don’t see much in the way of new features in the Sienna–a back-up camera and multiple screens I have to go through to set the clock. The automatic transmission has a few more speeds.

In terms of “standards” for 2020. If you look at industry leaders now, they project to what would be a “standard” or norm for 2020. As far as mpg; cars are doing fine so 20% more mpg in the fleet by 2020 is likely. MPG for trucks is really where some big moves can be made. I’d say the mpg for a 1/2 ton pick up should approach 35 mpg highway and 25 mpg city by 2020. Long haul trucks should also look for significant improvement in mpg.

The standards for crash safety will improve.

By 2020 you may see some new technology, like hydrogen powered cars coming into the market.

This is only 5 years away so you are looking at improvements on current cars, not radical changes. Trucks on the other hand have been slow to change up to this point so there are a lot more opportunities to improve trucks; small, mid size, and long haul.

I agree @Triedaq‌ . We have about the same difference in two cars in years. Of course Toyotas are not a good indicator as they change things once every twenty years at the most. But this isn’t popular mechanics and I don’t see any flying cars coming before 2020. My mirror, mirror on the wall says I will own the same two cars I do now. ;=(

@UncleTurbo–one example of what you are talking about is the change in the Ford vans from 30 year old design to the new Transit design.