Predicting the future is something many experts avoid like the plague, but for Professor Neville Jackson, head of technology and innovation at 100-year-old Ricardo plc, there’s no hiding place.

Ricardo is a consultancy: it makes its money spotting transport trends and demands ahead of others, then coming up with the solutions it believes big manufacturers will need for a happy future.

This entails having a pretty accurate idea what customers will want from their cars in the next two to three model cycles, say between now and 2030, a tall order when you consider how much cars have changed in the recent past. Who’d have expected a three-cylinder, 1.0-litre Ford Mondeo? But when I spent an hour with Jackson at Ricardo’s Shoreham HQ recently, he described the future with a willingness and clarity I simply hadn’t heard before.

In 2020, says Jackson, we won’t see much change compared with the cars we know now. Things will be better done; cars will keep getting cleaner. There will still be plenty of diesels about, though they’ll gradually move to power bigger cars.