What the hell is going on with automobile technology these days? As many people know, electric cars are nothing new (see documentary titled Who Killed the Electric Car). Any watcher of Top Gear (the BBC version, not the pathetic American, bastardized version) can testify, the episode featuring Jay Leno put forth the idea that Hydrogen cars, not electric, are the true cars of the future. Jay Leno article from Popular Science
I'm no scientist, and you might be thinking, "but wait, didn't the Hindenburg teach us a lesson here that this stuff can be dangerous?" Not really since that had a lot more to do with the paint and other aesthetics than the fuel itself. I can only really name a handful of car companies exploring the idea of hydrogen cars. Is this really our next step for daily commuters? I personally like the idea and think that the Toyota Prius and related ilk certainly have their place and I hope that this trend of more efficient vehicles continues so that the gas guzzlers can still roam the streets, albeit with the expected sneers from their eco-friendly road going counterparts.
Things in play on a macro level are growing populations, "shortage" in petroleum, rising gas prices in a stagnant economy, auto manufacturers dwindling profits, among many others. The comical taxes placed on car companies like Aston Martin that predominantly make super cars (read: gas hogs that might get 8 mpg) was easily diverted by bringing on some ridiculous version of a Toyota IQ simply rebranded so their average lineup consumption meet the standards clearly isn't getting a message across and I applaud the manufacturers for this.
Another very popular auto company in the news lately is Fisker, notably for reaching $200MM in revenues for 2012. Nevermind the fact they were originally predicted to be closer to $1.2B, which was then cut to $400MM, it's still progress for a business that was started only 5 years ago. However, you can say this is definitely an indication that electric cars aren't quite taking hold as many have predicted.
Popular Mechanics article with Leno
I know I'm rambling here but to bring this to a point, I came across THIS VIDEO where a scientist breaks down the fact heavier cars are a big issue and shows off some ideas for lighter designs of the future. I also saw in a separate article a graph showing that American cars have gained weight at almost a 2x more than American adults (fact check needed here since I'm not sure I can believe this). His "hypercar" design should be 2/3 less in weight than the average vehicle on the road today - AND get an astonishing projected 249 mpg! Two auto companies are already working this science into future concepts which should be seen in auto shows in the near future.
What say you on the direction of autos in the US and abroad? Anyone that's ever been to Europe for example can attest that large cars simply don't have much of a place in major metro areas or other heavily populated regions. I'm personally a huge proponent of anything that can keep supercar makers like Aston Martin, Zonda, Ferrari in business without needing to constantly apologize to environmentalists.