Let’s get one thing out there right in the beginning: I’m a truck guy, always have been. It’s not that my head can’t be turned by a great car—I still feel my heart flutter every time they roll out the latest Corvette. But so far, I have not let the mid-life crisis get the best of me, and it doesn’t take too long to refocus on my true ride of choice: a pickup, especially a vintage model.
Having made that clear, I am still reliving recent experiences from the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show, which showcased a dazzling display of new auto technologies. In addition to driverless car demos and a concept crossover that features solar panels built into the roof so it can provide some onboard energy production to assist the hybrid power train, we were invited to take a real-life test drive through the streets of Las Vegas in a snazzy electric vehicle.
For about twenty minutes, we zoomed around in this sexy little temptress from BMW, impressed by the handling, quiet ride and surprisingly roomy interior. But most of all, we were amazed by the rush of acceleration. We came away even more convinced that electrics are here to stay, and that they are already a better option in many applications.
For the skeptical, I would simply point to all the iconic brands in the auto industry that are racing to overcome technical challenges, consumer resistance and market hurdles to be at the head of the pack, as the world rolls into the next iteration of transportation.
I think there is a good lesson in all this for the building industry, as well. In the same way that the internal combustion engine rendered the steam-powered technology virtually obsolete, these advances in new technologies will do the same in turn, and not so very far into the future. We need to keep our foot on the accelerator in advancing performance in the houses and other buildings we produce, because we are as creative and innovative in our industry and any other…when we decide to be.
I’m going to keep a close eye on the progress of the market transformation in the automobile sector, and will be rooting for the risk takers, the visionaries and those willing to back their efforts. I’ll also lobby for the infrastructure required to facilitate this new approach to personal mobility and more sustainable transportation. Some of what we learn will be valuable to our own industry.
I do have one question though: when do I get to test drive that electric-powered, three-quarter-ton four-by-four crew cab with the short bed? Now that is one driver’s seat it will be hard to keep me out of!