Plugged in for the future…

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"The gas tax will probably go out the window. It won't be nearly enough to keep our roads in good repair. Get ready for a usage tax."

Wow! This new year is barely a half a month old, and I have already read two articles about how our auto industry is in the beginning stages of a massive change. How big of a change? A total change. Some blame China. After their proclamation that soon all non-electric cars will be banned from their roads, it set the US auto makers into a frenzy. By the way - California might also do the same. The change over to electric cars, which was going to take decades, is now only going to take years.
By 2023, General Motors has plans to introduce 20 new electric models. 20! And Ford also has plans to introduce 13 new electric models, including an F-150 electric truck. It is not just Ford and GM - just about every auto maker on this planet is following suit. Where at one time it was just the Chevy Volt and the Tesla, in five years there will be a wide variety of electrics to choose from.
As if this revolution in the auto industry will not be massive enough, it will also be happening right on top of another equally massive (or more so) revolution. That would be the self-driving car revolution. Just this month, GM unveiled a concept car on what their version of a self-driving car might look like. Think it looks weird? Get used to it. We will be seeing a lot of weird looking autos being produced in the next 10 years.
With every improvement however, comes challenges. And these challenges will be huge. The new batteries which will power all these cars are still being refined. Currently, some auto batteries will go up to 300 miles on a charge, but most are still down in the 200 mile range. These batteries need to be at least doubled, or tripled. Long lasting and quick charging will be the name of the game.
The gas tax will probably need to go out the window. It won't be nearly enough to keep our roads in good repair. Get ready for a usage tax. Most believe this usage tax will incorporate a GPS system which will report your miles and location to some governmental taxing authority. Hello, big brother!
I would be remiss if I did not bring this up again. With this projected (and very massive) change as to what we drive, and how we drive (or don't, as in driver-less cars), why in the Sam Hill are we still pouring billions into transportation which runs from a fixed location on a fixed schedule? Yes, I am talking about choo-choo trains. We ALL need to be ALL IN to make this electric revolution work. To take money away from getting our infrastructure ready for driver-less cars, and then pour that money into a rail system which few, if any will ride, is a fool's errand of biblical proportions.
What? Some are saying right now they don't want to drive an electric car, and they sure don't want one which drives itself? Not to be the bearer of bad news, but those folks need to get with the program. The wave will overtake all of us. The future is coming and in some ways, the future is already here. We need to get plugged in for the future. Much more on this subject coming soon.