Here’s something to think about. Imagine if you could take your old, paid-off Ford F-150 to the local dealership and get the latest direct-injected, EcoBoost V6 professionally installed with a basic warranty. What if the next vehicle you bought was designed with future upgrades in mind instead of obsolescence and replacement.
Okay. So you can already have the dealer install a brand new crate engine. Of course, dealer markup and labor rates make this cost prohibitive for 99% of the enthusiasts out there. This is one of the reasons why there is an entire aftermarket devoted to providing upgraded components for the engines which came in our vehicles off the assembly line.
THE FUTURE OF MODIFICATION
That idea up there about the old Ford getting the latest Ford technology? Tesla is building something similar into the Model S. They design the chassis with all the hardware they expect to need, keeping modularity in mind. When they want to implement a new feature – like the trip planner mentioned in the CNET article – it’s an OTA (over the air) upgrade. The car simply upgrades itself. Pretty cool, right?
The more I learn about EVs, the more I think they’re the future of motoring. And, given how much they seem to have in common with the electric RC cars many of us have played with, I can’t help but think we’ll one day be able to swap out battery packs, motors, and such to take advantage of the latest technology just like we can with them. Anyone running a brushless motor and LiPos in an old RC-10 should see the connection.
Wouldn’t it be nice to buy a car and know you could keep it forever, enjoying most of the benefits of advancing technology? How might older vehicles – generally smaller and lighter than their modern counterparts – perform with modern engines and gearboxes in them? Like I said, something to think about.
BUT WAIT, IT’S ALREADY AT RISK!
Hat tip to Kris Marciniak for sharing this one with me. Take an irresponsible population increasingly disinterested in actually driving and give them more and more electronic nannies – rearview cameras, blind spot alarms, and park assist, falsely encouraging their incompetence. Further isolate them from the machine by replacing throttle cables and steering columns with digital servos. Then show them how autonomous vehicles are already roaming the streets among us. What do you get?
You get a bunch of fear-mongering cronies in Washington, D.C., looking to lock down and control what they don’t even remotely understand. (Don’t worry. Corporate lobbyists are happy to “inform” them.) How do you think government oversight might impact this sort of technological advance? Mandatory McAfee anti-virus subscriptions on all new vehicles? Mandatory master remote kill switch so they can disable your vehicle if it’s out of control or you’re a day late paying your registration?
THE GLASS IS HALF FULL
This sort of news gives me hope. Though I grew up with – and still prefer (mostly due to cost and availability of aftermarket support) – internal combustion, I love the idea of being able to upgrade the performance of my vehicle wirelessly or to swap between motors and battery packs depending on how I want to use the car.
Knowing clueless politicians – who can’t seem to do anything for anyone who isn’t on Wall Street these days – are already looking to lock down freedoms we don’t even have yet in the name of “safety” makes me a littler nervous, but I gotta figure, if we can root our phones and change operating systems on our computers, everything’s going to be okay.
The future of modification looks bright. What technology are YOU most interested in seeing applied to our vehicles?