BACK TO THE FUTURE Chrisitan Manrique



When “Back to the Future” was released in 1985 one of the most famous quotes by Doc Emmet Brown at the end of the first film and at the beginning of the second one of the trilogy was: Roads? Where were going, we dont need roads. The car used in the film, a 1981 DeLorean DMC-12, was turned into a time machine that could actually fly, as Michael J. Fox characterized as Marty McFly pointed out. On the other hand, the vehicle, the time machine who came back from the future (October, 21, 2015), was electrical and powered by a nuclear reactor via plutonium to generate the 1.21 gigawatts of electricity needed. A lightning bolt was used to power the flux capacitor in the first movie. Nowadays, this still sounds like science fiction, though.

October 21, 2015 is the day. Unfortunately, the countdown from back to the future is here and, unless a miracle happens 30 years from that first Doc Emmet Brown’s journey, roads are still in use and cars cannot fly. Nonetheless, some steps forward have been taken and improvements have been produced.  Plug-in hybrid vehicles  and electric cars, as well as hydrogen cars have become a reality.

World vehicle fleet is estimated to have currently 1.1 billion running units and by 2050 it will reach 1.5 billion. World vehicle production in 2014 was 89.734.228 and nearly 80% of it came mostly from 10 countries,  was the ninth amid them.

I suggest that, based upon my own calculations taken from countries’ economic situation and consumers’ taxes, by the end of this year the number of cars produced could reach 90 million units. Meaning a 0.5% higher rate. If production levels are kept in Spain and not taking Volkswagen crisis into consideration, in the short run, the country could rise up to the eighth position overtaking Brazil’s. Out of the 2.7 million units that Spain could produce, 83% would be export based. This due to high demand from Turkey, Poland, Switzerland, South Korea and Japan.

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2014 data taken from:

2015 data: personal calculations.

Sustainable vehicles: plug-in hybrid cars, electric cars and hydrogen cars will become part of energy technology

Greenhouse gas emission (CO2) reduction is today among world sustainable development goals (SDG), supported by the United Nations SDG 2030 Agenda. If we also take into consideration global population growth, it seems logic to preview that clean technologies applied to mobility will become a very important resource.

Current trends are promoting hybrid cars and technology vehicles powered by gas (Liquid Gas Petroleum (LGP), Natural Gas Liquid (NGL) and Natural Gas Compressor (NGC)), though. Notwithstanding, by 2020 market will be overtaken by plug in hybrid vehicles, electric cars and and units run on hydrogen battery.

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Porcentaje mundial de ventas de vehículos por combustible en 2050

As the International Energy Agency suggests, by the end of 2014 there were 665.000 plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles around the world. Currently, this number has outreached one million vehicles.

The United States (275,100 vehicles), Japan (180,248 vehicles) and China (83,198 cars) have become the countries with the highest number of electric vehicles. In Europe, the most important are the Netherlands (43,762) and Norway (40,887). Spain is far behind with 6.780 units.

The global fleet powered by Natural Gas is estimated to be around 18 million units, 44,590 of them located in Spain.

Currently there are 2.800 orders for hydrogen cars in the world. It is estimated that by 2020 this figure will be the exact amount of units running in Spain, although there are not any.

Intelligent vehicles: wired and driverless

 Vehicles of the future will become part of a digital infrastructure ITS (Intelligent Transport Systems), in which through ICT (Information Communications Technology) use, all will be wired. Such a significant evolution shall have a positive impact on traffic, making it more efficient, cheaper and will increase security levels.

Intelligent Transport System

From this process an important asset will arise: driverless cars, through a testing period at the moment. Google has already launched a prototype, proving that this sort of technology can become a reality in no time.

On the other hand, this evolution will extend new behaviors such as car sharing, following the path set by collaborative economy, cutting down traffic in the streets, reducing the number of accidents by human factor and, above all, saving money.

Driverless vehicles will allow us to manage time in a different way, transforming endless hours on the steering wheel into more profitable hours. In a world where time and its use becomes more expensive, technology will focus on providing services to benefit from this extra time.

And remember that by October 21, 2015, as Doc Emmet Brown pointed out 30 years ago in Back to the Future, we should have been using flying cars because where we were going roads were not needed. Who knows? Maybe he was right and perhaps the year 2015 was just too early.

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