The sound of revving Harleys at the traffic light and screaming street bikes on a highway will soon be just a memory.
That is where the automotive industry is heading and there’s no escape from it.
It seems incredible to believe that combustion-based engines are coming to an end; the new trend has already started and it is just a matter of time before we see a bunch of Tron-looking bikes zipping around town.
Technology and evolution will bring us to a new era of transportation and interaction with the machines.
It’s quite easy to see this trend, if we think about what high speed Internet and mobile technology brought in the past 20 years just to the travel and automotive industry. The world, which used to be too big and complex to navigate, is now available in the palm of our hands. Billions of users exchange trillions of bits of data every minute through our network.
If 15 years ago somebody mentioned to me that we would all have high speed Internet on our mobile devices, I would have probably answered, “What for?” We were perfectly fine with texting and T9 keyboards, right?
Now, unless you are a baby boomer or even a Gen Xer, it’s almost unthinkable to imagine a society running without high speed Internet and smartphones.
Among generations Y and Z, that’s all they know, actually! These generations were born with technology already in their hands and, as sad and daunting as that may sound, if you were born in the previous century like me, you are already “too old.”
My generation (1980) grew up and lived without “modern” technology for most of our lives, so it is easy for us to make a comparison with how it used to be; people were still calling each other on house phones, looking up places on paper maps, and writing letters. Things that will make a 20-year-old cringe nowadays.
It’s easy for us to hold back and wish for technology not to take over our world, because we know how good it used to be. Back then motorcycles had no electronic technology and you had to manually flick a switch under the tank to enable fuel reserve.
There was something about the lack of safety of those motorcycles that reminds me of the uncertainty of life. There was more connection with those shaky and smelly machines than with these modern silent ones.
Now that we are on the verge of 5G and driverless electric cars, we are stepping into a realm that is almost too fast for us to bear. Technology does this to people’s lives. Makes everything happen faster.
In the next five years, I believe we will see the rise of electric cars, which will culminate in 2040 with probably the eradication of fossil fuels for most of the private automotive industry. Most first world countries are already starting to work towards that goal.
What would happen to motorcycles then?
Well, it’s easy to imagine that electric will be the new way. The good old “carby” will be a thing of the past. Once motorcycles become fully electric, it would be easy to monitor and manage our vehicles from our mobile devices.
Companies are already working on motorcycle AI, which will help the rider pick better lines, avoid obstacles and navigate through cities. Having AI (or a computer) on a motorcycle feels a bit like going to our favourite restaurant with a dietitian. It takes all the fun out of it.
A great change is going to come and will bring faster and safer vehicles.
It’s a new and exciting future.
Let us enjoy the relationship with our smelly and noisy steel horses for a while . . . as long as it lasts.