When it comes to the automobile, change is a constant. The year 2019 promises to be no exception, replete with buzzwords and hyped technology. It’s customary, at this time of year, for observers of the automotive world to sit down at their desks and prognosticate about what’s to come – yet how can you glean real four-wheeled insight from a stationary position?
The future of the automobile can only be found in traffic, and so, I decided to find inspiration behind the wheel of a 2019 BMW M2 Competition, the first of its kind and a replacement for the M2 Coupe. The M2 Competition is loaded with a turbo in-line six-cylinder engine that creates 405 horsepower and can go from a standstill to 100 km/h in 4.2 seconds. Its top speed is 280 km/h.
Driving the M2 provided a perfect lens through which to peer into the possibilities of 2019. The M2 is top-notch technology, without question; it’s a pleasure to drive but that pleasure is limited by the driving world that surrounds it. Congestion, pollution, frustration all strike a modern driver, no matter what kind of vehicle they are driving. I mean, 280 km/h is a great top speed, but when can today’s driver ever enjoy it?
Herewith, resolutions and predictions borne from the driver’s seat of a two-door worthy of the race track.
1) Windshield wipers: When driving a high-end automobile, one of the first things I notice is how awesome the windshield wipers are. They sweep the water aside and leave the windshield perfectly clear. Many drivers use a worn-out pair. When it’s raining they curse them but as soon as it’s sunny they forget, until it rains again. As far as luxuries go, windshield blades are not extreme. In 2019, I am going to splurge for the best.
2) I admit to being a “far-parker.” I drive a Dodge Grand Caravan. It hauls a lot of stuff and people. Parking it, however, is never a pleasure and, on average, I parallel park it at least three times a day. When I’m feeling lazy, I just park it off in a corner and walk. I dream of going back to a small car that can squeeze into small spaces. Yet, while driving the two-door BMW M2, I became an obsessive “far-parker.” I would find the most remote and isolated space and park there, keeping the flash car out of harm’s way. “Hello, my name is Road Sage and I’m a far-parker.”
1) In 2019, we’re going to see a rise in “EVS” – Electric Vehicle Skepticism. Right now, governments, automakers and drivers alike are sworn to EV as the solution to reducing the pollution caused by automobiles. Electric vehicles, however, are not without their environmental impact. What, for instance, will become of all those old dead batteries? In Forbes, Jeremy Alicandri notes that “much of the electricity that powers EVs is produced by ‘dirty energy,’" and quotes Herbert Diess, CEO of Volkswagen AG, who said, “If you don’t have renewable energy or at least a low-carbon share of energy, then you’re driving on coal instead of oil, and it doesn’t make sense.” In 2019, more and more automotive minds will look at the downside of EV and will argue that small, fuel-efficient motors may be a better long-term answer.
2) While Canadians support our country’s new drunk-driving laws in theory, they may not like them in practice. As of December 2018, police can demand a breathalyzer from anyone they pull over. They no longer need to have a “reasonable suspicion” that the driver is impaired. If a driver refuses to take the test, he or she can be charged.
In other words, strictly speaking, the police can now pull you over at any time without a reasonable suspicion that you have committed a crime, just so long as they give you a breathalyzer afterward. This policy is in place in a number of countries, among them Denmark and Australia. I’d like to see the Canadian government adopt tougher penalties, such as those found in other countries. As of April 2018, any driver in the Australian state of Victoria who is caught driving with 0.05 blood alcohol content will now:
- Lose their license for a minimum of three months;
- Be required to use an alcohol interlock device (ignition breathalyzer) for a minimum of six months;
- Be required to participate in a behaviour-change program
These kinds of tougher penalties for those found guilty will help curb drunk driving. However, giving police the right to demand breathalyzers without cause may result in more unintended consequences – for example, racial profiling – than it does reduce the number of drunk drivers on the road. The Charter of Rights guarantees Canadians protection from “unreasonable search and seizure.” We’re sure to see many legal challenges to the new laws.
So, to sum up my predictions and resolutions for the 2019 world of the automobile, change will be a constant.
Growth, as they say, will be optional.
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