General Question

rockstar's avatar

Why haven't the automobile companies progressed further then what they have?

Asked by rockstar (675points) July 10th, 2008

Cars have been around for roughly 100 yrs. Think about everything that has progressed in that time. I bet 99% of everything we use on daily basis has been either invented or changed drastically in that same time period. Why haven’t cars changed more than what they have? We should be running our cars on air or some other renewable source by now.

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9 Answers

shrubbery's avatar

Well Robert Zemeckis thought we were going to have flying cars by 2015, I’m looking forward to those.

nontalk's avatar

Economic incentive.

marinelife's avatar

To expound further on nontalk’s answer, there is no force pressuring car makers to move to new technologies. The price of fuel was stable; the profit margins were fine. Their manufacturing plants are set to build the cars of today. The government was not requiring them to investigate new technologies or fuel alternatives. R&D and setting up new manufacturing lines will require significant investment.

rockstar's avatar

@Marina-I agree with you and that is my thoughts on it. I would think it be worth the money to help save our environment though? They spend lots of money on r&d for other technologies. So why not have go towards another cause. Maybe even the government could even give support to these companies for their contribution. I don’t know, just some thoughts going through my head.

nikipedia's avatar

We don’t really run much of anything using renewable energy. This is a much bigger problem than auto manufacturers are equipped to deal with.

marinelife's avatar

@rockstar I expect that if a Democratic President is elected, there will be some regulation on creating more fuel-efficient vehicles and probably some incentives for alternative fuel vehicle research.

lifeflame's avatar

Actually, the technology for greener cars (electric, hybrids, hydrogen cars) was all there – I was working with Friends of the Earth as an intern 11 years ago, with an energy expert who said that basically the technology was there and the research had matured but frankly, there wasn’t any incentive to go further with this. Given the close connection of the automobile industry with the oil companies, the guys I was working with predicted that there basically wouldn’t be much of a change until our oil ran out and got too pricy… and then they’d switch/work on to something they’ve known about for a decade.

(The hydrogen car, for example, is really great—the by-product is water.
However, because of the explosive nature of hydrogen, it needs to be stored well; which means changing the infrastructure – how to make it safe and available at gas stations?)

Anyway, with the energy crisis around teh corner and gas becoming increasingly expensive, I expect that there;ll be economic incentive to switch now.

And maybe, just maybe, America could develop better mass transit!!

ninechars's avatar

It’s true that there have been limited economic incentives to make greener cars, but yes, the technology—specifically plug-in hybrid technology—already works.

The American automakers in particular have forgone development of greener vehicles for a decade or so, opting instead to make up for their weak profits on cars by marketing ridiculous SUVs. I bet they are wishing they had pursued a different marketing plan now that the price of gas is so high.

Toyota, on the other hand, makes a healthy profit on their cars in the US and also released the first commercial hybrid. I good refinement of this question might be “Why haven’t American automakers in particular progressed further?”

vinaykagarwal's avatar

Before the gas prices started soaring, consumer demand for alternative fuel vehicle was rather limited. Within the last few years as the gas prices have skyrocketed, tens of new automobile companies have rolled out many new and possibly novel vehicles – many too novel to be called cars. Even most major car makers also are beginning to roll out rather novel models.

You can find out about these vehicles by reading automotive news and blogs. Recently launched is compiling consumer oriented condensed information about these vehicles.

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