Here's a good look at how the automobile has progressed over the last hundred years. What started out simply as a means of transportation, slightly faster than a horse-drawn carriage, has become a huge part of the worldwide economy and an integral part of our culture.
On the left we have what, in our eyes, looks like a primitive attempt at motorized travel. At it's introduction, however, it represented the very latest available technology science and research had to offer. On the right, we have an example of what the industry is capable of now. Sure it's not as fast as an F1 car, but it's been proven safe and reliable enough for daily use. It's taken us 100 year to get there, but what a difference!
When the first gasoline cars were built, there were no paved roads. Now, we must go out of our way to escape the noise of traffic. Back then, there were no gas stations. Now you would basically be a fool to run out of gas (guilty!). The world wasn't car friendly, and the development of the automobile probably looked like a risk at that time. Now there are so many of them, manufacturers have been forced to rethink how these machines consume the earth's energy resources.
It sounds a bit like the introduction of the plug-in electric vehicle, doesn't it? Electric vehicles aren't really new, but the world hasn't quite been prepared for them. They will require an extensive network of charging stations, a new generation of service and repair facilities, and continued research to improve the reliability and cost-effectiveness of new battery technologies. All of these factors can make the first generation of EVs seem a bit risky. In time, they will be common, and someday it will probably be hard for people to imagine a world full of gas burning cars.
There's really no comparison between the Ford Model T and the Mercedes-AMG SLS in terms of performance and features. One hundred years has resulted in an almost absurd level of improvement and refinement. Imagine what cars will become in the next century. Will we even drive anymore? Will someone find the secret to teleportation by then? Who really knows...
One thing is for sure: engineers and designers will continue striving to introduce cars that perform better, look better, last longer, and just do more. It's what consumers want. Economic troubles and government regulations may seem like kinks in the works, but they may spark some of the most innovative and creative solutions we've ever seen. A century from now, an SLS will probably seem silly and dated, and the Model T will look like a caveman invention.