The kids are alright. The parents less so.
For a while there, we thought the future of the automobile was in trouble because young people didn't seem to be interested in driving.
The US Federal Highway Administration recently provided some shocking statistics. In 1983, 80 percent of 18-year-olds had a driver's license. In 2018, the figure dropped to 61 percent. Since we live in a democracy, that's a win. Ford in Britain seems to agree because it recently researched what drivers of the future want. While doing so, they also gave the kids a Mustang Mach-E to play with.
It spoke to several eight- and nine-year-olds about the future of the car. By the time these kids are old enough to drive, it will be 2030. That's the year the UK is moving over to EV-only car sales.
Unfortunately for the UK, only 49 percent of the younglings want their future car powered by electricity. A pitiful 17 percent preferred gasoline, followed by 10 percent of kids who want a diesel-powered vehicle. Seven percent of kids want a car powered by natural gas. Even Dodge, the last bastion of ICE, now agrees that electrification is the future.
The study does have some good news, however. Nearly four out of five (79 percent) are looking forward to learning how to drive. This is excellent news. While ICE cars are disappearing rapidly, autonomous vehicles can, for now, in the UK vernacular, sod off.
When asked what kind of car they imagined driving, the kids obviously went for a flying car. A full 36 percent of kids wanted comfortable seats, followed by 27 percent who wanted a banging sound system. Just 32 percent wanted environmentally-friendly features, while 24 percent wanted self-driving ability.
Ford's senior exterior designer, Nedzad Mujcinovic, brought their ideas to life as a rendering called the Ford Future Generation Concept Car. It's an EV that can fly, and it has a red and black color scheme, also approved by the kids.
Finally, Ford asked the little ones which environmentalists they admire the most. David Attenborough (46%) was the firm favorite, followed by Greta Thunberg (36%), Prince Charles (28%), Swampy (25%), and Caroline Lucas (24%).
Ford also questioned some adults, who are more hesitant about the swap over to EV only. One in five British adults disagrees that the ban on diesel and gas cars should come at all. A full 40 percent of British adults are worried that they may not understand how to drive an electric vehicle.
When asked what they'll miss the most about internal combustion engines, 45 percent said the noise, while 39 percent said they'd miss changing gears. Both are valid points. But one in three Brits also cite "missing going to the gas station." What's going on over there? Are the British okay?
Thankfully, the kids seem to be hanging on.
"It's clear that today's children have their wonderful imagination, but they're also sensible at the same time. They want their car to fly and be fun, but they're also very keen on future mobility being sustainable and safe. We've mocked up how we think this dream car should look. It would certainly grab attention - but we're not overly sure it will be appearing on our forecourts in the next decade or so," said Alice Swallow, senior innovation engineer at Ford.