Close your eyes and think really hard about what electric vehicles might look like in, say, June 2024.
My experience is that chances are even the wildest imagination will be dwarfed by the real things, and they are barrelling into our lives faster than expected.
That is what I call the benefit of hindsight. What are already out there seldom failed to wow even seasoned auto reporters when they were unveiled.
And the trend is, the decibels of wows and applause are rising faster and steeper than before, just like blood pressure fluctuations my colleagues and I experience as we rush to finish stories after new product launches.
One of the changes that even those who know little about the sector can tell is electric vehicles’ mileage.
The term “mileage anxiety” was once a roadblock that discouraged people away from electric cars. With the lapse of merely three years or so, the concern now seems like from the Neolithic era.
Vehicles that can run over 700 kilometers on one charge have hit the roads, ranging from the Tesla Model S to the Xpeng P7.
Their rival Nio has confirmed that its latest model, which will come out in 2022, will have a staggering range of over 1,000 km on a single charge.
Big touchscreens, which Tesla first introduced into cars, are available in literally every e-car, and they are getting bigger, in terms of both their size and number, to facilitate such things as navigation and onboard infotainment.
Augmented reality or AR head-up displays, or HUDs, are making their way into electric vehicles. HUDs were originally invented for military aviation to prevent pilots from looking down to check parameters by projecting them on the windshields.
The AR-powered ones, like those in Volkswagen’s ID.3 and ID.4, present more information based on real-time sensor data, including advanced driver assistance system alerts and navigational cues.
Car keys are no longer necessary. You can easily open the doors with the smartphone.
And with a scan of your face, the vehicle, like Aion’s LX, will adjust itself automatically from the position of the driving seat to music it will play and destinations you are most likely to go.
Driving assist functions are almost standard on electric cars. Some latest ones, including the IM model by SAIC and Alibaba, can drive themselves into the garage after the passenger alights and return to pick her/him up with just a tap on the phone screen.
Startup Pony.ai is offering robotaxi service in the whole 150-square-kilometer Yizhuang region in Beijing. Baidu is offering driverless rides in the capital city’s Shijingshan district.
And don’t be surprised if you are told that you will soon hail flying driverless taxis.
China’s Geely showcased a two-seat model in April this year at the Shanghai auto show.
Developed by German company Volocopter for urban mobility, it can fly at 100 km per hour at up to 2,000 meters for 27 minutes, with a load of 160 kilograms.
Geely said the two are building a joint venture in China to produce the model, and applications have been filed for a business license.
As for what will be the next jaw-dropping thing, I have little clue, to be frank. But if you would like to give it a wild guess, a little unsolicited advice from me would be, “Never say never”.