Search the internet and you’ll find screeds of posts and blogs about EVs, driverless cars, but very little about personal mobility, yet this is what all the big thinkers are grappling with as we try to define our future transport needs.
Honda’s Frank Paluch spoke at SAE World Congress last week taking what has at times become a sticky subject and turning it on its head. It’s not solely about making and selling cars. It’s not just about making our cars more efficient. It’s not only about addressing range anxiety. People will continue to drive vast distances be it for pleasure or business. The trick is how we enhance that travel and what we can do as a society to make it better in every way. That includes making it more cost efficient, more intuitive to the needs of the driver, less reliant on fossil fuels and ultimately improving the safety of every single journey.
Like all visionaries, Honda’s R&D President has seen beyond the clutter and noise in the short term, and has set his sights on what the future of transport could be for people seeking even great flexibility, efficiency and environmentally friendly solutions. If we were building our infrastructure from scratch we wouldn’t design what we currently have.
Paluch’s ambition will outlive the short term policy makers. Yet he will need the backing of political decision makers to encourage a sea-change in the way we plan infrastructure going forward. Short-termism does nothing but place a temporary plaster over a wound. Until we treat the wound, the problem will keep reoccurring.
Honda is a highly respected company, with a track record to demonstrate its ability to innovate and deliver what the customer needs. As we look at future technologies that manage the scale and environmentally acceptable needs of transportation in 2050, we welcome bold thinkers.
Though disruptive in its approach, it is not an entirely radical idea to covert one lane of the I-5 for highly automated, connected vehicles, going at high speed and even powered by alternative fuels. As well as offering an initiative that moves societies beyond the age of oil, it will also makes our societies more responsive and safer.