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Picture: 123RF/PHOTOCHICKEN
Picture: 123RF/PHOTOCHICKEN

Dateline: April 28 2039

Honda has made good on its promise to cease sales of combustion cars by 2040. The last one produced was in fact a hybrid model, with a minuscule 900cc petrol engine to supplement the electric motor.  

Well respected throughout the motoring world, Honda had a reputation for building compact, fuel-efficient cars that were ultrareliable. With 30 new electric models introduced over the past 15 years, Honda has completed its transformation into an “electric only” car company. Volvo achieved this feat years before, but with a much smaller model line-up and customer base, it was a far easier transition.

But Honda’s solid engineering skills and design mojo were not enough on their own. It needed tech resources to compete in the highly electronic world of electric vehicles (EVs), which led to partnering with Japanese giant Sony for fresh ideas, and a whole new take on cars. Honda also collaborated with General Motors for global scale and access to batteries.

“In 2022 we saw that we could not create the future by drawing a straight line from our ‘Business of Today’ as it existed,” Honda CEO Toshihiro Mibe said. “We had to envision the future, and make sure our plans were flexible enough to get there as technologies progressed.”

With this kind of strategic agility and a willingness to embrace partners from completely different industries, Honda has succeeded in becoming a top seller of affordable EVs, both in Japan and abroad.

“We’re saying goodbye to gasoline,” said the plant manager as the last one rolled off the line. “From now on we’re all-electric, all the time.”

Published on April 28 2022

Electric cars and trucks are here to stay

Cities insist on cleaner air despite the slump in oil

Dateline: May 15 2030

They’ve slowly been making inroads into the mainstream transport paradigm, but now electric cars are the mainstream, and trucks are right behind them.

Ten years ago, cities from Shanghai to Venice to New York were treated to weeks of fresh air and cleaner rivers, courtesy of coronavirus shutdowns. It was remarkable how quickly air quality surged, as people remained at home and cars remained parked. Most airlines were grounded too, as travel bans to curb the pandemic were hastily decreed.

Eco-warriors rejoiced as factories closed and streets emptied. “Just look at how much damage we are doing to the environment,” they chorused. “You can see the difference already.”

Once lockdown ended, why should it be back to the bad old ways? Obviously it was important to rebuild economies, but it was also an opportunity to do things differently. People were hesitant to mingle, and use public transport, so private cars were back in force, with their pollution problems.

Many cities, and even whole countries, were quick to increase incentives for switching to electric transport, and penalties for diesel and petrol vehicles. Companies such as Tesla and BYD ramped up production, and it was not long before electric cars were outselling combustion vehicles in the light passenger class, ideal for city commutes.

Now it is more like 65% globally, and light trucks are about 20% electric, and more in the large metros, where diesel is completely outlawed. Country towns and farming communities are still driven by the economics of cheap oil and old school cars, but with modern batteries and chargers, everyone will eventually go electric, just like they all got smartphones in the end.

There is just one problem. Junkyards cannot keep up with the millions of old gas guzzlers and rust buckets that are being discarded; they are unsaleable and cannot be recycled. And the museums can only hold so many cars from the previous century.

Published on May 14 2020

Despite appearances to the contrary, Futureworld cannot and does not predict the future. The Mindbullets scenarios are fictitious and designed purely to explore possible futures, and challenge and stimulate strategic thinking. 

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