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If It Could be Anything With Four Wheels, What's Your Dream Car?

The automotive market is changing faster than it ever has in history. With all of the new hybrids, EVs, and PHEVs becoming available, it would be fun to stop and think for a minute about what would make a great future car. If the sky's the limit, if all of the current technical limitations were lifted, what would be the best new features to have in a car to make it the most comfortable, convenient mode of transportation? I'll impose two limitations: no flying and no teleporting. Allowing those two things seems like cheating. It's too easy to say, well, I want a flying car, of course, that folds up into a briefcase, and be done with it. I want to really think about what features would change the driving experience for the better. At the same time, I'll let my imagination run a little wild, so some of these things may never be possible. But we can dream, can't we?

Make it a family-sized car. I have a young and growing family, and we like to take road trips. That means a bigger car would be much more convenient for driving across the country and going on camping trips with all of our gear. I'd like a station wagon or minivan sized car that could both seat seven when we have extra passengers and have plenty of cargo space when just the four of us are traveling.

It'll be a pure EV. The performance, efficiency, and comfort of an electric motor driven car can't be beat. I'm thinking Tesla Model S performance and comfort here, but with even better efficiency. EVs are currently getting 2.6-3.5 miles/kWh, on average. I'd want it to do 5.0 miles/kWh easily in normal driving conditions at 65 mph, and it should have close to zero energy loss when charging or discharging the battery.

How about a 700+ mile range. With a metal-air battery, super capacitor, or some other technology that makes much higher kWh/lb capacities possible, a 700+ mile range would allow me to drive all day without having to stop to charge. I'd also only have to charge once a month for my normal daily commute. Of course, if charging stations were widely available and cheap, I could live with a 400-mile range and charging when we stopped to eat on road trips. Charging stations would definitely need to be available at hotels to recharge while we're sleeping.

I want solar charging. And not just any solar charging, I want a solar paint job that converts sunlight to electricity with at least 50% efficiency with some advanced nanotechnology paint material. Coupled with the huge battery capacity and great mileage efficiency, I would almost never have to actually charge this car. It would do all the charging for itself. Of course, with that kind of solar absorption efficiency, the color choices would likely be reminiscent of the Ford Model T days. I could have it in any color I wanted, as long as it was black. Maybe a nice deep iridescent blue would still be possible. I'd take that in a heartbeat.

Heck, how about the windows, too. The windows could also be auto-tinting in bright sunlight with the tint absorbing more solar energy. The roof could also be made of this solar glass to give a nice panoramic sky view. The glass would be shatter-proof to be safer in accidents, and the driver could have the ability to change the state of the glass for more viewing transparency or more solar absorption for charging. This solar glass would provide the added benefit that the car would not get so hot in the midday sun because the solar energy would be partially absorbed as electricity.

The car should drive itself. I could switch to manual override if I wanted, of course, but the car should otherwise be fully-automated. I could simply tell it where I wanted to go, and the car would take me there unassisted, giving me plenty of time to spend on things I'd much rather be doing than driving, like reading a book, watching a movie, or catching up on my news feed during the daily commute or playing travel games with my family on vacation. If we're on a road trip and the car is getting low on charge, it should automatically re-route to an inductive charging station, park over an open charger, and recharge enough to get to the destination. Then it would continue on its merry way. Along with the advanced sensors and controls for automated driving, the car would have all of the standard safety features: airbags, ABS, traction control, stability control, etc.

It's connected. The car is connected to the internet so that it can coordinate with charging stations, Google maps, traffic reports, roadside assistance, and much more. It can also be a wireless access point for all of our devices. I'll have access to all of my online movies, music, books and apps while being driven around by my personal chauffeur.

And that is all I would want in my dream car. That's not too much to ask is it?

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