So many major advances in automobile technology will come to market in 2010 that I started calling it the Year of the New Automobile. 102 years since the first Ford Model T rolled off the assembly line the internal combustion engine is finally on the way out. Nissan is releasing an all electric vehicle. Toyota is to sell a plug-in hybrid vehicle (PEHV) with next-generation lithium-ion batteries. The Prius is said to have solar panels by 2009. Volkswagon is releasing a vehicle with a 1-liter engine that gets 235 MPG. GM plans to make the Volt in 2010, which is an electric vehicle with a gasoline generator on-board. Audi is making a hybrid SUV beginning in 2010 called the Q7. France-based Zero Pollution Motors is releasing an air-powered car in the US called Breeze. 2010 also shows the return of the Camaro with GM‘s new 6-speed transmission. For all these reasons, I believe 2010 is the Year of the New Automobile.
So when was the Year of the Automobile? TIME magazine reported in 1934 that 1933 was the original Year of the Automobile. This was because, “in 1933 the automobile industry … fashioned some 2,040,000 cars, 42% above 1932. Its sales not only bulged in May and June when all industries were booming, but afterwards, when other industries felt a reaction, it continued making headway. In darkest November it did 108% more business than in November 1932.” Sales of alternative fuel vehicles rose to over 1.7 million in 2007. Hyundai’s Dr Sungho Lee predicted in June 2008 that the cost of running gas-powered vehicles will double by 2010 and zero-emission fuel cell vehicles could be commercially available within five to ten years. The future looks bright for alternative automobile technologies, especially in 2010 and on.
UPDATE: Honda is bringing the Insight back to the U.S. as a 2010 model for an MSRP of $18,500. The Insight is rumored to get over 70 miles per gallon.