What will automotive life be like in 2030? I spent Monday evening with my nose in our digital archive, looking back eight years for guidance about the situation eight years forward.
Beyond obvious stuff (we will be chest-high in EVs and chargers and plug-in hybrids will need far better electric-only range), I found no nuggets. There will be surprises about how EV motoring is paid for, but for now it’s in the authorities’ interests to avoid specifics about that (if they have any).
One thing I did notice, though, is how much we talked about body and chassis rigidity back then, as if it were something special, like a swanky hi-fi. Nowadays all cars have unimpeachable rigidity, which makes it amusing to recall when they didn’t. With one 1960s Ford (Cortina, I think), you had to avoid parking on uneven ground and opening a door, because you wouldn’t be able to close it again. Creaking noises from the rear of pre-BMW Rolls-Royces were dismissed by snooty salesman as “the leather working, sir”.
Craziest of all was a quirk of the Fiat Croma and related Lancia Thema, discovered during an action photoshoot: on the limit through a left-hander, their bodies twisted so much that their boots would open. I’m so glad we’ve moved on.
In a long and chequered history of running long-term test cars, I’ve never before moved from one model to another from a similar stable. I did it today, though. My Dacia Sandero Stepway, a doughty ally over 16,000 miles and nine months, has been replaced by a slightly larger Dacia Duster.
I ran the Sandero because it was brand new at the time and we needed the story, but I’m running the Duster now out of naked self indulgence. It’s one of my favourite cars, and I’m looking forward to telling you why.