Potential future car technologies include new energy sources and materials, which are being developed in order to make automobiles more sustainable, safer, more energy efficient, or less polluting.

Advanced control[]

  • Platoons of cars that are controlled by the lead car
  • Automated highway systems
  • Vehicle infrastructure integration

Energy source[]

Main article: Alternative fuel vehicle

One major problem in developing cleaner, energy efficient automobiles is the source of power to drive the engine. A variety of alternative fuel vehicles have been proposed or sold, including electric cars, hydrogen cars, and compressed-air cars.

Car of the Future video[]


Car of the Future PBS

Car of the Future - NOVA 22april2008 "Join "Car Talk" hosts Tom and Ray Magliozzi as they take a look at plug-in hybrids, all-electric roadsters, biofuels and more in this lighthearted but shrewd take on America's four-wheeled future."

Along the way they visit: DAVID L. GREENE (Oak Ridge National Laboratory), JOHN B. HEYWOOD (Sloan Automotive Laboratory, Massachusetts Institute of Technology), Detroit Car Show, AMORY B. LOVINS (Rocky Mountain Institute), Alt.Wheels Festival, in Boston, BOB, FORD REPRESENTATIVE, BETH LOWERY (General Motors, Vice President, Environment and Energy), JOSEPH ROMM (Center for Energy and Climate Solutions), JÓN BJÖRN SKÚLASON (Icelandic New Energy Ltd.), ALBERT ALBERTSSON (Svartsengi Power Plant), LEE R. LYND (Mascoma Corporation), Andrew A. Frank (University of California, Davis), MARTIN EBERHARD (Founder, Tesla Motors), ROBERT A. LUTZ (Global Product Development, General Motors), ANTHONY POSAWATZ (Vehicle Line Director, General Motors).

In the end they conclude that a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) is the vehicle they want in the future.

Energy savers[]

Various technologies have been developed and utilized to increase the energy efficiency of conventional cars or supplement them, resulting in energy savings.

  • Regenerative braking recaptures energy that would otherwise be lost as waste heat from the brake pads.
  • BMW's Turbosteamer technology to harness the heat generated by conventional internal combustion engines and use it to generate mechanical energy [1], which can increase in fuel efficiency by 15%. [2]
  • Compressed air Hybrid is an engine made by researchers at Brunel University, UK, which forces highly compressed air into the engine, which they claim reduces fuel consumption by 30%. [3]
  • Utilization of waste heat from D.W. as useful mechanical energy through exhaust powered steam, stirling engines, thermal diodes, etc..[1]
  • Using computational fluid dynamics in the design stage can produce vehicles which take significantly less energy to push through the air, a major consideration at highway speeds. The Volkswagen 1 Litre car and Aptera hybrid car are examples of ultra-low-drag vehicles.
  • Installing Vortex prevention devices at the back of the roof of a car reduces drag and therefore improve fuel efficiency. [2]


  • Duraluminum, fiberglass, carbon fiber, and carbon nanotubes may totally replace all steel in cars (potentially improving lightness and strength). Aluminum, carbon fiber and fiberglass are currently being used more in cars today.

See also[]

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