If you were born sometime between 1979 and 1997 or so, you're a Millenial, and you hate all of the cars currently made--so much so that you wouldn't even consider buying one. Or so Popular Science says in its latest video "rant," from projects editor Dave Mosher.
Sorry, Dave. You're wrong. On all accounts.
Why is Dave wrong? First, let's consider his "manifesto" for the Millenial generation. (We'll let the classification of those of us at the upper end of the 16-34-year-old spectrum--who definitely don't self-identify as Millenials, Hooniverse hoons included--slide).
Mosher says there are no cars being made right now that a Millenial would want. The problem? The cars aren't built for them.
His evidence? About 30 percent fewer new vehicle registrations to Millenials during the 2007-2011 time frame; about 50 percent of Millenials want to live in a "walkable" neighborhood.
So here are Mosher's demands for a car that Millenials would buy:
"Lose the driver's seat." -- Mosher doesn't want to actually have to drive his car, he wants a computer to do it while he sits in the back seat.
"Don't make me wreck the planet." -- Batteries, plastic, metal--Mosher says all of these materials are harmful to even acquire, much less use, so we have to somehow make it clean and green.
"We need a grid that can support really fast charging stations so it's just as safe and as easy as pumping gas." -- Clear enough.
"We need clean renewable energy, no more fossil fuels, fussy nuclear technologies, none of that stuff. Automakers, you guys got the government to build you a national highway system, it's certainly within your capabilities to have them build you a clean, renewable electric grid. Get it done." -- OK then.
"Make cars more affordable...We don't care if they're glitzy and glammy and have all kinds of fancy electronics in them." -- The economy sucks, Millenials don't have much money, so Mosher says cars need to be cheaper.
"So that's really it auto manufacturers, that's all you need to do to sell me a car and the rest of my generation."
Oh, that's it, eh? Simple, right?
Hold on a second, Mosher Millenials.
Let's distill the rant to its core points to formulate this ideal Millenial car: It should be fully autonomous, made entirely from recycled/recyclable materials harvested in eco-neutral ways, it should run on perfectly clean energy, and it should be less expensive than the $30,000 average new-car cost cited in the video.
That, in a nutshell, is what's wrong with Millenials, not cars. The Millenials' desires, as phrased by Mosher, simply don't match up with reality, or even with near-future probability. They're idle wants backed with no interest in helping reach them and no concern for the costs, difficulties, or, most importantly, time frame required to do so.
But let's take each point individually.
"Lose the driver's seat."
This one's already in progress, with several cars on the road today that perform some aspect of self-driving function. They're mostly expensive, luxurious cars. Why? Because developing the technology isn't cheap, nor is the equipment used to bring the autonomous ability to life--it's simply very early in the emergence of this sort of capability. But it's coming, though even within the next decade or so it will likely be relatively uncommon. We'll allow this one for now.
"Don't make me wreck the planet."
Again, this one is already in deep progress, with many car assembly and manufacturing plants supplementing or mostly meeting their power needs through their own self-made solar, wind, or other purely green, renewable electricity sources. Materials like steel, aluminum, and carbon fiber all rely on mining and recycling processes that have been heavily refined over the past century, but can still cause some environmental damage. Unfortunately for Mosher, those materials are required to meet necessary safety regulations, as well as the simple realities of structural support and integrity for the vehicle to meet its dynamic goals and passenger/cargo load requirements. Until we find a way to alloy Unicornium, we're stuck with the latest advances in high-strength steel, bonded aluminum, carbon fiber, and CFRP.
"We need a grid that can support really fast charging stations so it's just as safe and as easy as pumping gas."
Tesla is already working on how to deply battery-swapping for its cars, intending to meet this exact goal, but it's far from the first company to want to do so, or even to take steps to make it happen. The problem here, again, is money and time. The rate of adoption of electric cars is still low, due in part to their fundamental limitations, and due in perhaps larger part to their still-expensive nature. This is a bit of a Catch-22 situation right now, but with demand (i.e. actual electric cars on the road in significant numbers) the stations to power them will likely arise just as naturally and numerously as the gas stations we have now.