Predictions are notoriously difficult things to do well, especially since I just found out that the “prescience juice” I bought online seems to just be blue Gatorade with a bunch of baby laxatives mixed in. That’s why this year I’m trying a different tactic, giving you guaranteed predictions of things that won’t happen, automotively, next year. Hope this helps.
Now, I have restrictions for this: anyone can accurately predict that 2017 will not be the year that every new car sold comes with a magical otter that makes you fantastic non-alcoholic cocktails and tells you erotic stories about Fred Savage. That’s because there’s just no such thing as a fantastic non-alcoholic cocktail or the ability to connect eroticism with the former star of the Wonder Years. So I’ll be limiting my non-predictions only to things that, hypothetically, could plausibly occur.
Got it? Okay, with that in mind, I can confidently say that none of these will actually happen:
1. Autonomous cars with manual transmissions will be developed.
Personally, I think this is a brilliant idea, a way to keep enthusiasts interested in self-driving cars. The car is entirely autonomous – steering, braking, everything – except for the transmission, which is a stick as we know it.
Such a car has no steering wheel, accelerator, or brake, but it does have a big clutch pedal and a shifter. You have to clutch and shift, just like you’re used to, but you’re just not actually driving. If you’re in first, and you don’t bother shifting, the car will just be stuck screaming along at 25 MPH, revving the engine at 6500 RPM.
It’s like the exact inverse of an automatic conventional car, only much more useless. It’ll be all the boredom of an autonomous car without the ability to really do anything else while inside! It’ll be occasionally fun, but mostly just frustrating and maddening!
I suppose luckily, this won’t happen in 2017.
2. Widespread adoption of car infotainment systems that don’t suck
Yeah, as much as we can hope, wish, criticize, and cajole, this isn’t happening – some center-stack screen interfaces will be pretty good, but, overall, they’re still going to be overcomplicated, dated-looking, confusing stacks of menus with ridiculous input knobs and nubs and nipples.
Some kind of universal system, adopted by carmakers across the board, that just takes your phone in a convenient, cable-free dock that charges and connects it to the car, and mirrors the UI you’re used to, with all your data, like a better version of Apple Car Play or Android Auto, right onto a nice big touch screen will also probably remain a dream.
3. A new premium electric car will be unveiled and nobody will call it a “Tesla Killer”
I’ve seen experiments conducted in autojournalism laboratories that have proved that it is technically possible to describe a new premium electric car without calling it a “Tesla Killer,” but so far this has not been replicated outside of the laboratory environment, and I’m skeptical it ever will.
4. The Cabover Revolution will begin
Soon, my dreams of the world understanding the best designs will eliminate the protruding hood and place the engine low and central in the car will not become a reality.
I’m working on accepting this.
5. The Saturn brand will make a comeback to widespread delight and acclaim
Please note that I’m not saying the brand won’t make a comeback – I’m just saying nobody’s going to be delighted. With dealer-less, no-haggle car sales starting to gain momentum, there may very well be some temptation to resurrect the Saturn name, where a lot of these no-haggle ideas started.
GM or someone else may actually try it. I kind of want to watch that happen.
6. Tweel mania!
Okay! I have a good feeling about my bad feeling about these! Have a great New Year, pals!